The most popular metaphor for watchmakers is the statement about trees. If you browse through our magazines and websites, you will find that it is used many times by manufacturers. Give a few examples? On the occasion of the SIHH Geneva International Horological Salon, the title of a supplementary article about Jaeger-LeCoultre was simply called the ‘Jacques Tree’. Another example appeared in an interview with Philippe Merk, CEO of Audemars Piguet, when he mentioned ‘Royal Oak Tree.’ In the last issue of Europa Star Watch World, an article about Lange & Söhne introduced Lange Academy from the perspective of ‘Understanding Trees and Tree Roots’.
Why is the metaphor of trees used so frequently? Perhaps because in the eyes of watchmakers, just as trees are closely related to our social state, it is also inextricably linked to the art of timekeeping. Of all creatures, human beings are best at governing space, and trees are clearly in control of time, because no other creature exceeds the lifespan of a tree-some types of California fir trees can live for nearly 5000 years. Trees are actually immortal because they can multiply infinitely. It is said that a Swedish spruce sprouted in 7158 BC, and it has been more than 9,000 years. Therefore, it is not surprising that the watchmaking industry compared trees to the masters of time. However, we are concerned about the revival of this metaphor.
For a long time, the concept of watches and modern concepts are inseparable. With the increasingly busy global business, the regularization of transportation, and the interaction of the world economy, the social importance of watches continues to increase. Today, ‘instantaneous time’ occupies the core of financial transactions, banning space and borders. Trees that cannot move space but have better time control seem to be a symbol of comfort and encouragement. The world may collapse in front of us, the crisis can induce a global financial turmoil, and the class concept may be shaken, but the trees stand upright, as if it is a comforting reference point.
This tempts us to seek inspiration from trees. Its structure is very suitable for the analogy of watch brands. In this world of economic globalization, watch brands are exploring how to re-stabilize their geographic base and historical depth (tree roots), with an emphasis on solidity and reliability (trunks). They also show their abilities through branches and take pride in the fruits of each season. The eternal seasonal cycle of trees-blooming every year and staying true to oneself-provides a very inspiring image.
As such, trees represent a growing tradition. Although its growth rate slows down in particularly cold and severe winters, it never stops-a point that many watchmaking brands desire. Trees therefore remind us of timing. Isn’t the annual ring of the trunk a record of time passing, a bit like a natural clock?
It’s no surprise that the metaphor of trees is so popular now. The euro may appreciate; China’s rise may slow down; sea levels may rise. But the big tree will continue to grow steadily.