Has the novelty of collaborations become muddled by oversaturation? Has the novelty of collaborations become muddled by oversaturation?

Has the novelty of collaborations become muddled by oversaturation?

Borna Bošnjak

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good collab, regardless of whether you’re talking fashion, which seems to be the birthplace of this phenomenon, or watches. Especially when two brands that shouldn’t work together on paper come out with something great, I get this tingle of excitement, which I believe James May calls “The Fizz”. Having said that, have we reached, or possibly, overstepped, the pinnacle of collaborations? With so many scrambling to get in on the action, is the novelty of it all in danger of turning into a gimmick?


So, why even collab in the first place, and what makes a good one? For starters, it’s a great way for brands to expand their appeal to markets they would not normally occupy, but that may be a source of new fans. The one that comes to mind immediately is Seiko x Rowing Blazers, as the preppy potential of both brands makes for a perfect crossover. A good collab, especially a reasonably priced one like that guarantees the brands good press (kinda meta huh?), as it shows these age-old companies recognising the potential in younger buyers and staying in touch with pop culture.

On the other hand, brands can sometimes take after Mr Buscemi here, overestimating their ability to stay lit with the vibes and dab on the haters, eventuating into toothpaste collaborations (I’m not joking, examples one and two here). Take the example of Gucci x Fnatic. For a brand looking to break into the world of haute horlogerie, and a marque that already has plentiful general appeal, collaborating with an eSports team just seemed like a shot in the dark – and one that missed by some margin.

Too much of a good thing?

You certainly can have too much of a good thing. Just a few short years ago, when I was but a broke, unemployed student, watch brands coming out with special editions was big news – just think of the waves that releases like Louis Erard x Vianney Halter and the Hodinkee Travel Clock created. These days, I am but a broke, albeit semi-employed, student, and new collabs seem to be cropping up on a weekly basis, to the point where I struggle to keep up.

From Timex x Stranger Things to De Bethune x Voutilainen, every imaginable price bracket is saturated with collaborative efforts. Depending on the complexity and audacity of the two brands combining, there is potential for some real gems, yet most of the time, I can’t help but audibly sigh when scrolling past another post introducing This x That. It is a very rare occasion that I get genuinely excited when a new collaboration drops, and when I do, it is clearly a product of long-term commitment to creating something truly awesome (*cough* like all T+T collabs *cough* totally shameless plug *cough*).

Has it all got a bit ridiculous?

Images courtesy of A Blog to Watch and Business Wire

With any trend, there will be those who just look to make a quick buck, with seemingly no real consideration behind the designs they’re putting out. While it did inspire me to find more examples of fun watches, the Invicta x SpongeBob collaboration is among the most cursed pieces of design I’ve come across. It’s not only the case with affordable brands either, proven by the example above, a Montegrappa Chaos, supposedly designed by the one and only Sly Stallone.

What the future holds


Even though the novelty has become played out, I see no signs of it stopping – and maybe that’s a good thing? While the concept has lost some of its initial intrigue, it often forces brands to work outside of their comfort zones, which can lead to innovation. Unfortunately, that’s not to say that we’re not in for some more Invicta x SpongeBobs, but for every one of those, there are bound to be more MB&F x H. Moser or Louis Erard x Seconde Seconde types of collaborations. It seems like we’ll have to accept that these releases won’t feel as special and that it’ll take more effort to sort through the chaff. The thrill of the hunt it is, then.