The watchmaking industry is a fiercely competitive place. Most designers don’t have the freedom to create watches according to their muse. They have to adhere to a brand’s DNA as well as take direction from the marketing department. These restrictions can make a designer cringe and feel constrained. Not so for Chuck Davidson, a designer responsible for watches such as the Corum Fossil and Concord ANTIBES, which got accepted into the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Design. Davidson relishes the challenge, and, in fact, believes a marketing plan can inspire creativity as well as lead to more success.
At the young age of 20, Davidson graduated from the prestigious L.A. Art Center College and immediately went to work as a designer/art director at the ad agency N.W. Ayer. Over the years he worked on such accounts as Chrysler, Piaget, Movado, Corum, AT&T, DuPont, Vivid, Thai Airways, DeBeers and Rand Diamonds. Until recently, he’s been the Creative Director of Citizen Watch Co.
A boundless trove of ideas, Davidson thrives on coming up with the original, often by juxtaposing unusual fusions. For example, he’s the guy who convinced DeBeers that diamonds are more than forever, pairing them with a Levi’s jacket to fasten the cuffs. And then he placed diamond earrings and a diamond ring on a baby for Vivid diamonds. Both diamond campaigns were extremely successful. Davidson’s also the man responsible for re-launching Movado’s Museum watch around the idea “The Art of Performance”, which gave a new life and (huge) audience to the model through communicating its history and special place in the market.
Having this unusual background gave Davidson a perspective from both sides of the fence. Putting together his interest in horology and paleontology, he made a fossil clock for his own enjoyment. Davidson’s genius attracted the late Gedalio Grinberg, the former president of the North American Watch Corporation, which represented Piaget and Corum in the United States. He saw the clock and was knocked out, commissioning Davidson to create some prototypes for a new watch collection, which became the Corum Fossil watch. It was the first time the company had used an American designer.
Davidson has many watch designs to his name, including the Corum QUO VADIS, ARABIAN WATCH and diamond watches for jeweler Beaudry. It doesn’t matter to Davidson whether it’s a quartz or mechanical movement. To him it all comes down to the design.
According to Davidson, the only thing that differentiates a product in the marketplace is design. It’s that aspect that gives you an edge and enables a company to compete on a higher level. The best designs communicate on a primal level, and, as a result, appeal to a large group of people. Marketing’s strategy can drive the design or a strong design can lead the marketing strategy.
Davidson explains that certain designs appeal to particular demographics. In the luxury market, consumers prefer more conservative designs. It’s a safer way to associate with the fashionable people and make an investment of significant cash. Take, for example, a Rolex or a Cartier Santos. In a conservative environment or for a conservative person, these designs give a sense of security. You have to be bolder to wear say a Graham or Linde Werdelin.
At the lower end, people are more willing to experiment and take chances. If the product goes off trend or doesn’t fit someone’s style, it’s not a big deal because a lot of cash wasn’t spent.
In the world of Chuck Davidson business melds with creativity. In our exclusive video, Davidson gives more insight into his unique vision.