Feature Article - July/August 2011

Precious Medals

Watch Incentives to Motivate & Reward Your Best

By Emily Tipping

What is the purpose of a watch?

Obviously, it can tell you what time it is, time being a complex subject in and of itself. But a watch is more than a timekeeping device. A watch can be a status symbol. A watch can be a memory. A watch can be a piece of jewelry. A fashion statement. An heirloom. A compass. A solid something that stays with you as you navigate your day, anchoring you to each hour, minute and second that passes, just before it becomes past.

Watches tell us the time, and more. But they also hold far more meaning than the functions they serve—whether simple or complex. Perhaps this explains in part their lasting endurance among the top rewards and incentives.

Watches also are ubiquitous. They are a part of the wardrobe, and many people own multiple watches. And for this reason, watches continue to perform well at both retail and in the incentive space.

"People today utilize watches as accessories to their wardrobe, and as such currently own more than five watches," said Joe Zanone, senior vice president of Movado Group Inc. "Watches in general are also a very good idea in terms of gift-giving, marking special occasions. In the retail world today, the biggest selling times for watches all center around celebrations. …This holds true in the incentive area as well, with watches being used to mark anniversary milestones, such as five-, 10- and 15-year service awards, sales achievements, safety man hour goals, wellness rewards—this list goes on. Who doesn't want a watch?"

"Watches are collectible, fashionable, tell a pride story on the wearer's wrist and, most of all, are a consistent reminder of their achievements, as the average person looks at their watch 20 times per hour."

-Joe Zanone, Movado Group, Inc.

Considering the importance of trophy value in the premium, incentive and reward space, it should come as no surprise that watches—bundled as they are with deeper meanings—outlast other, more fleeting rewards as a reminder of accomplishments and recognition.

And, in these times of economic turbulence, watches offer an even higher perceived value for many recipients, precisely because of the value they hold. As the price of precious metals continues to rise, items made from them become even more attractive for many recipients.

In fact, said Zanone, "There is a very large increase in gold-plated product because of the price of gold."

Jim Keenan, senior vice president of Special Markets for Citizen Watch Company agreed. "You have to look at what's gone on in the world around us," he said. "All of the reasons for a watch being a great incentive or reward item still pertain, but the added benefit of watches within the watch and jewelry category is with the escalating prices of precious metals, gold, silver and diamonds, the perceived value of watches has increased relative to other jewelry items. Therefore, when you spend a certain sum on a watch, the end user is getting something that has a greater perceived worth. And because of the fact that the price of precious metals has gone up, the jewelry item the end user might get that is made of gold, silver or diamonds have become smaller. So in comparison, a watch is a greater value."