When it comes to horological print ads, there’s one man who has made a business of studying, preserving, and offering them for sale. His name is Nicholas Federowicz and he’s the man behind Ad Patina, a niche business selling framed vintage ads of collectable replica watches online uk. When it came time to look at ads from the ’90s, (something I’m into) I knew Nick was the right man to call.
The ’90s were the last great era of print media. Today, print advertising has taken a back seat to digital advertising, and that’s alright. The good news is that there are still plenty of great ads out there from the ’90s that shed some light on not only what brands were doing, but what the luxury fake watch-buying public was thinking.
We’ve chosen five ads that capture the horological zeitgeist of the time. You know, the days when you could actually buy high quality replica watches at the price the manufacturer recommended you buy them at. Folks say the ’90s were a forgettable decade in terms of watch design, but I’d push back on that; just take a look at these ads. They make the Swiss super clone watches and watch-wearing lifestyle look fantastic, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do.
Fake Patek Philippe, “You never actually own a Patek Phillipe,” 1999
Federowicz says “Patek’s ‘Generations campaign’ may be the most well-known marketing done by any watch brand. It started around 1996 and is still going strong today.” He’s right on the money. The messaging is perfectly on-brand, and that’s why the campaign has lasted this long. It’s a subtle way of recognizing the cheap fake Patek Philippe UK as a financial asset that also qualifies as an heirloom piece. That’s the magic of good advertising, a single statement tells you all you need to know. Stephen Pulvirent (or Stevey P., as I know him) covered the background of how the ads came together a few years ago, definitely worth a read.
Replica Panerai Italian Frogmen, 1998
You really can’t have a conversation about ’90s watch culture without looking at the profound impact of Swiss made replica Panerai. It was incredibly popular in the ’90s with both “watch people” and the watch-curious, alike. A lot of that is due to its presence on the silver screen, worn by Sylvester Stallone in Daylight and of course, the Arnold in the 1996 action flick Eraser. The copy on this ad reads “Formerly a military secret. Finally available to a select few.” It’s a reference to top super clone Panerai’s connection to the Italian frogmen of yore and the brand has leaned into that area of its heritage quite heavily until this very day.