Luxury Watch Deals Becoming Latest Trend For NBA Player Endorsements
Swiss watch company Hublot last summer installed a 25th anniversary clock in AmericanAirlines arena, the "latest in a series of investments by Hublot, and other Swiss watch brands, into US basketball and the NBA," according to Arthur Touchot of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Hublot in February '11 "signed a partnership deal" with Heat G Dwyane Wade. Swiss watch company Audemars Piguet in response signed Heat F LeBron James. But Hublot "picked up its second signing this year" with Lakers G Kobe Bryant. The "blossoming relationship between luxury watch brands and basketball became even harder to ignore when IWC became the third watch brand to partner with an NBA player" in Knicks F Carmelo Anthony. The deals so far have "led to million-dollar investments, through charitable donations to players' foundations, and collaborations on limited editions." Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias said, "Are we targeting NBA fans? No. Not especially. Watch brands are choosing to work with players who care about their watches, and talk about them to other players. They're choosing the most active kind of representative." Anthony co-founded and launched Haute Time, a "print magazine that previously existed only online." It aims to "inform watch enthusiasts on the industry developments, and Anthony writes a Watch of the Day column for the website." He said, "I want (people) to know why they are buying that watch. If I can be the guy who speaks for the timepiece world in my community, I'm going to do that." IWC describes Anthony "as 'a partner' and, unusually for such a relationship, it does not require him to wear the brand exclusively" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/9).