Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Watches: The LHC Watch, by Greg


1. How can this be better?

2. Who wants to make it?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Watches: Rolex

Here are two watches from the Rolex catalog my coworkers picked up at Baselworld, They are the least expensive and the most expensive.

This is the least expensive at 4,400 Swiss Francs (about $4100).

This is the most expensive. At 262,000 Swiss Francs it is a little more expensive than my house in Chicago.

Notice that the more expensive one displays the date and day of the week. I'm guessing this is why you pay a little more.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Watches: Hublot's Big Bang Maradona

Some of my coworkers recently attended Baselworld, and brought back a stack of brochures. Flipping through them, I came across the Hublot Big Bang Maradona, a limited edition (only 250 pieces made) celebrating Argentinean superstar, Diego Maradona.

It features Maradona's number and signature in Argentinean blue. And the counter goes up to 45 minutes so you can time each half of a regulation soccer match.

I'd love to know why Hublot did this, because it doesn't make a truckload of sense to me.

A watch from one of Switzerland's premiere brands, celebrating a retired soccer player from Argentina. Why not a Larry Bird watch? Okay, so soccer's more popular than the NBA.

My guess is someone at Hublot has a man-crush on Maradona. I wonder how many members of Hublot's board are South American. And how long they debated whether they should go for Maradona, Pele or Ronaldo. I'd like to see the number of these watches than actually end up in the hands of actual Argentineans.

The 45-minute hand seems a cool at first. But if you're watching a soccer match, is it really going to be so much easier to check your Hublot instead of the game clock in the corner of the screen or right next to the jumbotron?

I haven't been able to find the price on this piece, but considering most watches in the Big Bang collection are not limited editions and range between 6,500 and 12,500 Euros, I'm guessing the Maradona edition is some serious cash.

So Argentinean millionaire soccer fans with a penchant for Swiss quality, here's your watch. Hurry. There are only 250.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Change of scenery

Just for fun I did a Google image search on "Swiss landscape" and "Texas landscape." These were the first two results.

I can live with that. Makes me feel all Lonesome Dovey.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Baselworld is the most important trade show for watch manufactures in the world. Who knew?

A few of my coworkers recently attended (I was offered a ticket, but had prior obligations – rats). Even though the majority of the booths are accessible by invite only, I would have loved to browse.

What blows me away is that the average high-end watch manufacturer (think Patek Phillipe or Rolex) plans to make 50% of their annual sales at Baselworld. So it’s basically like the auto show only you can’t get into any of the booths, and the rednecks are replaced with oil shieks, Japanese trust funders and Russian mafiosi.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This does not apply to driving an Alfa Romeo

I'm reading In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, which is about the various ways people around the world are slowing down to enjoy life. Honore's not a self-help guru; he's a journalist who approaches each slow advocate skeptically, so it's enlightening without being preachy.

One of the chapters deals with Cittaslow, a movement by cities to slow down their pace to make life more enjoyable.

But what I find hilarious and typical is the list of official Slow Cities.

USA = 1
Italy = 46

Oh, Italy. I'm going to miss you guys.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Watches: Swatch

Back in 1984 when Howard Jones and his rack of synthesizers were inspiring my classmates to bleach and feather their hair, and girls started taking their fashion cues from Molly Ringwald movies, the fashionistas of my elementary school were discovering Swatches, sometimes wearing two on the same wrist, or using them as pony tail bands.

In my Levi jacket, spangled with enough Van Halen pins to pass for a Spanish general, I would have none of it. For a quarter of a century, I've associated Swatch watches with kids in my sixth grade glass who were affluent enough to be trendy.

It's taken me 26 years, but I finally have a great appreciation for Swatch as a brand. (Certainly a much stronger brand than Van Halen turned out to be.)

Cool things about Swatch:
  • Launched in early 1983, they were smart enough to realize they needed a brand. They knew if they were just another Swiss watch, their deep-pocketed competition would demolish them.
  • Switzerland was known for producing the best watches in the world, but they were also the most expensive. In the early 1980's, if you wanted a good watch for under a couple hundred bucks, you bought a Japanese Seiko. Swatch changed all that. (In fact, Swatch was short for "second watch" - the one you'd wear when you didn't want to scratch up your $10,000 piece.)
  • Early on, Swatch started partnering with artists like Keith Haring to build their design cred.
  • They remained true to their meticulous Swiss heritage, first developing the flattest watch in the world, and then figuring out a way to reduce the pieces needed from 91 to 51 without losing any accuracy.
  • Today, the Swatch Group is the world's largest watch company and owns the following brands: Omega, Tissot, Mido, and the watch lines of Calvin Klein and Tiffany & Co.
There are so many watch companies in Switzerland, and so many have zero branding acumen. It's not surprising to me that the one who understood the power of branding could rise from start-up to market goliath in less than 30 years.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Passed this on my way to work. Sorry, but I think it's funny.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Obama style (from a Swiss perspective)

No matter what policies Obama's implementing (or failing to implement) back in the States, his brand is still strong overseas.

We have a Swiss copywriting intern in the office, and I asked him to write several lines for a client who's wants to announce how they tailor their products to their customers' needs. One of his suggested lines was this:

You wish, we made. (Obama style)

I'm amazed that someone who's only moderately proficient in English is recommending communication be "Obama style."

I'm not sure which is stronger, Obama's brand or the reach and influence of American politics. I can't imagine writing any line and giving the direction "Sarkozy style" or "Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa style."

Maybe these would work:

Yes! No! Whatever! Reorganize the government! (Berlusconi style)

You have no idea who I am! (Stephen Harper style)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RIP Merlin

From 1997-98 I was a producer at the Graham Group, which made all the TV commercials for the Rocky Mountain Chevy Dealers. Merlin Olsen was their spokesman, and I just heard about his passing.

Most people know him as one of the best defensive linemen of all-time. Others know him as Jonnathan Garvey from Little House on the Praire or Father Murphy. So I shouldn't be too disappointed that those Rocky Mountain Chevy ads have been overlooked in his obits.

Merlin was a class act, very kind and respectful of everyone on the set, and as a Sigma Chi brother, we could perform all sorts of secret rituals and handshakes when the cameras weren't rolling.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This blog's days are numbered.

I have accepted a job at the Richards Group in Dallas, Texas.

By May, the Swisstensens will be the Christexans.

I've still got a few interesting posts coming up, so please keep reading.
At least for the next month and a half.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Swiss Navy

Pretty cool branding. Cracks me up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Scarlet Number

In Switzerland, if you get too many speeding tickets, they make you put a sticker on your car that indicates you're only allowed to drive at reduced speeds. They honestly shame you into not speeding. As long as this sticker's on his window (usually 3 months, depending on the violation), this poor guy has to display that he can't drive over 45 kilometers per hour.

Maybe it's because this hasn't happened to me yet, but I think this is pretty hilarious.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Went skiing with my kids this weekend. For lunch, we went into the lodge and ordered pizza and hot chocolate.

I didn't really pay attention to the pizza I ordered. Which is why I ended up eating a slice of pizza with chunks of potato on it.

Dear Europeans, when will you stop putting weird stuff on your pizzas?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Geneva's International Auto Show 2010

Ahh, the International Motor Show in Geneva. One of the premiere car shows in the world with such mismatched communication. While I think this year's poster is a little less bizarre than last year's, it's still a little odd.
I'm guessing the image is supposed to evoke images of light trails on the highway? It looks more like DNA art to me.
Looking at the floor plan, a couple things stood out to me. First of all, European motor shows are very different than ones in the United States. In the U.S., it's not surprising that companies like VW and Toyota get some of the largest areas on the floor. But for Peugeot and Renault to have equally dominating floor space? That's about as Euro as a Mentos commercial.
The other thing that I noticed is that Chevrolet and Corvette have two different areas on the floor.
While I can understand why Chevrolet would do this from a branding perspective, it's still a little sad to me. It's like the teenage kid who's so embarrassed to be seen with his mom at the mall, he feels he has to walk three feet behind her and roll his eyes and shake his head dramatically to convey to everyone else that he doesn't really want to be associated with this woman dragging him through Mervyn's.
(Sorry. Did I just get too autobiographical?)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Watches: The Greg Christensen Collection

We've looked at Patek Phillipe, Enigma, and DeWitt. This week, I present my personal watch collection:

On the left, is a Swiss Military. Made in Switzerland, but purchased at a Costco in Oregon.

In the middle is a Puma, which I love, but the battery has been dead for about two years.

On the right, a Skagen from my mother- and father-in-law for Christmas. Easily my favorite. But since it's made in Denmark, I can't really brag about it to my co-workers.

I think if I sold all three on eBay, I'd have enough to make 1/100th of a downpayment on a DeWitt.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who's Who in Zurich

I saw this book of "Who Is Who In Zurich" on the coffee table in a business lobby.

I picked it up out of curiosity, thinking there's no way I'd know anyone in Zurich. And this is the page I opened to...

It made me laugh. But I had the Beyond Thunderdome song stuck in my head for the read of the day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Value of Fridge Packs

Here's another stealth photo I took in line at the grocery store.

If you're picking up a 24-pack or even a 36-pack, you look like you're having a party. But if you just load up your shopping cart with cheap beer, you look like a lush.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Buzz at the Agency

Recently, the intercom to our agency lobby was malfunctioning. This sign was posted near the elevators.


"BUZZ" was scratched out and replaced with the only-slightly-more-correct word "INTERPHONE."

Apparently, interphone is a real word (though not one I'd ever use with a straight face). I think it was just scrawled there by someone appalled that an ad agency was freely admitting that their buzz wasn't working.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Watches: Tissot

Tissot is a Swiss watch brand you've probably heard of. They advertise in Wired and they're not astronomically priced.

I've noticed a lot of watches have interesting, see-through backs. Tissot has quite a few. It's a shame that the only thing to really see this is a sweaty wrist. But it's probably a cool feeling for the owner to know they've got this back door they only let a few select members of their inner circle know about.