Following the last edition of Watches & Wonders, several of you asked me what I thought of the Oris ProPilot X Kermit Edition. The answer is not easy because everything depends on the position I take. I place myself first as an observer of the brand strategy. From this point of view, I have no doubt that Oris was right to present this watch resulting from a partnership with The Muppets. Already, to begin with, the watch told me that Disney had held the rights to the series since 2004, which I did not know. So, thanks to Oris for informing me of this contractual situation. Then Oris would have been wrong to deprive itself of the buzz and the media coverage that the ProPilot X Kermit Edition generated. It’s simple: it was one of the watches most present in the minds and in the conversations of visitors to Watches & Wonders. And even if he was still positioned at the entrance to the stand, Oris’ bear gave the feeling of being relegated to the rank of extra behind the famous Kermit frog.
First day of the month and presto! Kermit appears in the date window:
It’s cleverly done on Oris’ part. First of all because Oris has a serious or even (too) reasonable brand image which is surely a virtue but not necessarily a decisive advantage from a commercial point of view when it comes to seducing a large part of customers who buy based on favorites. Appearing as quirky, fun, this can only be an advantage in a crisis context. Let’s never forget that the harder times get, the more customers want to have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point of spending several thousand euros to buy a product from a brand as austere as its daily life?
Then, Oris mobilizes its best know-how to embark Kermit. While other models could have been used to materialize this partnership and in particular more accessible watches, Oris is staging its most ambitious piece, the ProPilot X in titanium. The ProPilot X is, in my opinion, the most aesthetically and technically accomplished watch from Oris. I really like the consistency between the case and the bracelet, the geometric style, the clasp, the use of titanium and of course the presence of the in-house caliber 400 which stands out for its excellent performance (anti-magnetism, 5-day power reserve, all with a 10-year warranty). But then, why dress up this well-designed watch with a frog? Quite simply because Oris wants to take advantage of the buzz to convey a double message: a reminder of the manufacture caliber to begin with and the price level to finish.
The in-house caliber 400 is the main vector of Oris’ ambition:
This is a fundamental point: the communication campaign linked to Kermit highlights the strategic orientations of Oris. Oris goes up in range just like the frog goes up the ladder. The proportion of watches using the caliber 400 or its variations such as the 401 continues to grow in the catalog and the prices follow the same trend. Thus, the selling price of the ProPilot X Kermit is 4,400 euros (i.e. 200 euros more than a “traditional” ProPilot X) which is a much higher price than those that customers knew a short time ago.
The ProPilot X Kermit has in fact generated a lot of buzz, which has confirmed Oris’ position as a credible player in the 4-5K segment. In short, a fun watch serving a very serious purpose. Undoubtedly, it is very well played on the part of Oris.
Now, I place myself from the point of view of the potential buyer. I have already expressed my positive feelings about the ProPilot X. However, I was not fully convinced by the ProPilot X Kermit. To tell the truth, I had the feeling that Oris found himself in a sort of hesitation in the tone to use. The watch is intended to be fun but ultimately, it is not too much. The technical and rigorous context of the ProPilot X is not necessarily the best suited for this exercise. And above all, the concept linked to the presence of Kermit is far too smoky: the frog only appears on the first day of the month in the date window in order to communicate a kind of incentive to think of oneself, to think of smiling, thinking about making time for yourself. Well, not sure that Kermit, as cute and funny as she is, will manage to motivate me to lead this introspection, especially since the date window is very small: it is better to be awake and have your glasses on the first day of the months to take advantage of Kermit’s presence on the dial. In addition, the dominant color of the dial, an intense light green is quite tiring in the long run. The watch is supposed to rest, it tends to tire quickly. I think there was better to do then: either go straight into the delirium (a clearly visible Kermit, work on the oscillating weight, what do I know?) or use another watch with a summer tendency, like a Diver for example, to make the presence of the frog less incongruous.
I was therefore not charmed by this strange watch which, by dint of hesitating between humor and seriousness, finds itself in a kind of uncomfortable in-between. The ProPilot X is a superb watch, if I spend more than 4,000 euros, it is out of the question to have to support a dominant color which is not easy to wear. And if I want to wear a funny watch, then other pieces seem better suited to me: there’s plenty of competition, especially with a price of 4,400 euros.
But in the end, is my point of view really that problematic? Of course not, because the mission assigned to the ProPilot X Kermit has already been fulfilled. We talk about Oris, we talk about its flagship model, we talk about its in-house caliber and Oris has managed to breathe a dose of “cool attitude” into its image. The objective of the watch is not to rejuvenate its clientele (the Muppets speak more to people of my generation than to younger people… it’s almost an “old” thing!) but to make the brand more desirable as a whole and more visible to customers who can afford to spend more than 4,000 euros on a watch. I sincerely believe that Kermit in a few weeks has done more than the Bear, yet at work for ages, to support the ambition of the brand and its profitability for the coming years. In other words, let’s not be fooled by the smile of the frog. On the contrary, its role is very serious, not to say capital.