When Image And Reputation Matter

There’s an old saying that I love that goes like this: Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

This is so engrained in our psyche as humans, that companies have started to invest more and more money in making us think their products are great, rather than actually making great products. It’s cheaper and they make loads more money, and the watch industry is no exception. Never has the watch market been filled with so many overpriced and boring watches (a reason why the vintage market is so hot), period.

It’s gotten to a point where this is so important to a company’s bottom line, that in 1997 Dr. Charles Fombrum and Dr. Cees van Riel founded the Reputation Institute. They’ve become the world’s leading research and advisory firm for *reputation*. According to their own marketing, they help companies answer 3 questions:

  1. What is my reputation?
  2. How does it compare?
  3. How can I improve it?

According to the firm, a company's reputation drives business. The higher the score a particular company receives, the more likely it’s products will be purchased or recommended. 

What’s shocking is that this analysis has nothing to do with the quality of a company's products. They do not assess quality in any way, simply the perception of.

The latest top-100 is out, and not surprising at all, Rolex was ranked first with a score of 80.38 and they are the *only* watch company in the top-100.

In fact, the company that ranked 100 is Volkswagen with a score of just 64.73 meaning no other watch company was able to do better than a company that scammed the earth with their Diesel fiasco.

And yet, if you know anything about watches you know that while Rolex makes a great watch, they’re really more of a mid-tier high-end watch brand. So, why are the others not on this list?

This is where you really have to tip your hat to Rolex and Hans Wilsdorf. Even before a single watch was made, Hans Wilsdorf was focused on his brand and image. For example, the name Rolex, it comes from (albeit unconfirmed), the French phrase “hoROLogic EXquise”. It’s a 5 letter word whose letters are the same size when written in upper-case, meaning it was quite symmetrical, something Wilsdorf was obsessed with. Furthermore, it is also an onomatopoeic word, meaning it phonetically resembles or suggests the sound it describes.


As a watch enthusiast, all this means is it that it's very important to be as objective as one can when buying a watch. With so much information at our fingertips, the last thing one should do is believe off-hand what any brand's marketing tells one to believe. Instead, critical thinking is imperative focusing on the actual merits of the watch and the watch company. Only as a final step should one’s subjectivity come into play, possibly as a tie breaker when considering more than one worthwhile option.

Doing otherwise could mean you've been had!

If you’d like to learn more about the Reputation Institute, you can do so by clicking here.