How Instagram changed the way we look at luxury watches
A picture is worth a thousand words – then the right picture, with the right filter is worth a lot more.
With over 500 million users, Instagram knows all about the value of pictures. It’s more than just a social phenomenon – the media explosion has changed the way people look at things, especially luxury goods.
In my line of business it has contributed to a shift in the way watch lovers interact with watches. It’s a growing trend. Some Instagram accounts dedicated to watches have in excess of a million followers.
In the early days of my watch collecting, there was no Instagram. It wasn’t even on the horizon. I always loved to pore over images of fine watches, learning everything I could. But I had to make do with the few images I could scratch together from media and advertising. Today, like most people, I can’t live without things like Instagram.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram pointed out some of the reasons his image sharing service has become such an influencer: “Our atomic unit of communication on Instagram is an image,” and then he added, “Advertisers all around the world speak in images.”
It’s true – images are powerful things. It often happens that we post a watch on our account, @Momentumdubai and it instantly generates interest. A client sees a watch on Instagram that he just has to have, and whether he is in Dubai or Hong Kong, he sends a message and buys the watch.
It makes sense. The way the human brain processes images is astounding. A team of neuroscientists from MIT has found that the human brain can process complex images in as little as 13 milliseconds. It takes a lot longer to process that amount of information in written form.
There’s something addictive about high-quality images of watches. Systrom enjoyed pointing out the following statistic: When someone opens Instagram, typically they’re likely to open it eight more times that day. I can see why.
Instagrammers all over the world are posting the most attractive images they can in a bid for the most likes and shares. There’s no text, so it’s all about letting the images speak – which is the perfect milieu for watches.
Anish Bhatt runs one of the most popular Instagram accounts @watchanish, with 1.6 million followers (and counting) and tens of thousands of likes per post. He now gets approached by top brands to run promotional posts on their behalf.
His success can be attributed to his magazine quality images, and an eye for street photography – something that would make the more traditional watch brands cringe. But hubs of interest like Bhatt’s Watchanish started appearing everywhere, and the likes of Rolex and Breitling couldn’t ignore it.
Watch lovers from every corner of the globe are browsing hundreds of images. They’re comparing, admiring, learning and – quite possibly – obsessing over the best of the best.
What I most enjoy about Instagram, though, is that it’s not monopolized by the big brands. The little guy has an equal footing.
It’s a place to share your common passion, and to research that dream watch – displayed in plenty of different settings and seen from lots of different angles. Private collectors and dealers are given a platform, and even if you can’t afford it, you can still dream.
Some of my favorite Instagram posts have come from the popular watch blogs like @hodinkee, @watchesbysjx, both of which have always believed in high-quality images, but I also make time for some of the more obscure Instagrammers like @_queuecumber_.
Tariq Malik is the managing partner and co-founder of Momentum watch shop, DIFC, Dubai. momentum-dubai.com