Feature Article - July/August 2020

Past, Present & Future Rewards

The Timeless Appeal of Watch & Clock Incentives

By Emily Tipping

Businesses and employers might still be mired in the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but there's no doubt that things will return to some semblance of normal, and those who want to outperform their peers will be at the head of the pack when it comes to offering rewards and recognition to those who have partnered in keeping the boat afloat. And while categories of merchandise rewards rise and fall with time and trends, there are some items that will always be associated with appreciation and recognition. Watches—with their inherent symbolism of the partnership between a business and the person it seeks to recognize—have long held a place at the top of that list.

"A timepiece has long been a relevant and highly valued reward option," said Jeffrey Brenner, director, Special Markets & Military, Seiko Watch of America LLC. "Now more than ever, the recipient, consumer or event attendee wants established brands. Brands such as Seiko are qualified manufacturers of high-quality, trusted and impeccably designed products that cross all demographics and needs."

"A watch can be considered as a fashion item to enhance a wardrobe selection and, more importantly, a business necessity," added Adrienne Forrest, vice president of corporate sales for Citizen Watch America. "A timepiece can be worn daily, providing a constant reinforcement of a mission accomplished or job well done.

"Further," she said, "watches can be handed down as heirlooms. They are lasting, as opposed to gift cards or cash that can be spent and gone, or even electronics that can become obsolete quickly."

"Giving a watch as a gift makes a very impressive and lasting impression," agreed Marty Beck, director of sales for Stuhrling Watches. "The perceived value is usually much greater than the actual cost. The watch will last long after chocolates, roses or any other disposables or expendables have vanished from mind and sight. What other prominent gift can you think of that will constantly be a reminder of your benevolence?"

Putting things in perspective, Beck added that people look for solace in times of turmoil.

"Our watches are colorful, cheerful, exquisite, lively, expensive-looking—all of which make the recipient a happier person."


When it comes to trends, everyone has their own taste, but discerning recipients understand the value of recognized and successful brands.

"Brands' past design successes are being reimagined to meet today's younger, more discerning consumer," Brenner said. "Others say 'retro,' but that is not correct. It all comes back to the recipient, who demands that the product they select or have as an option is from an established, proven manufacturer."

This cannot be stressed enough, he added. "It's all about quality, with a strong design."

Forrest agrees. "Authenticity continues to be a strong trend among today's discerning consumers," she said. "The desire for real, quality timepieces, not disposable, that have high perceived styling and value for money is a very strong watch industry trend.

"Bulova is in a great position to continue its strong leadership position in our product segment with its focus on automatic watches. The newly released Frank Sinatra Collection pays homage to the iconic singer with 10 new, vintage-inspired watches, dispersed among four different design iterations, each named after a famous song by the artist. Each of the models includes an image of Sinatra's hat and/or signature on the dial, an explicit form of third-party branding uncommon in full collections."

Brenner added that there's a shift toward mechanical movement, or automatic timepieces. "Men's designs are moving toward a smaller size case with a variety of stylish bracelets, leather and nato (fabric) straps."