Talking sales and product philosophy with Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer Talking sales and product philosophy with Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer

Talking sales and product philosophy with Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer

Zach Blass

Last weekend, the watch and filmmaking industries came together for the Hamilton Behind The Camera Awards – a ceremony which celebrates the often unsung achievements of those behind the camera and their crucial contributions to the art of storytelling. While there was a jam-packed itinerary surrounding the event, I got the chance to sit down with Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer to chat about Hamilton products and philosophy. Here are some of the key takeaways from our discussion.

Vivian Stauffer
Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer (right) wearing a limited edition Hamilton PSR PVD Gold

What was the bestseller of 2020, and the current bestseller of 2021 so far?

As was the case with many watch brands, Vivian noted that the pandemic posed many challenges for their planned release schedule. While some may have delayed novelties, Hamilton felt that a particular anniversary launch was too important to be pushed back: the Hamilton PSR, a revival of the revolutionary Pulsar watch introduced in 1970.

“To celebrate this 50th anniversary, we produced the new PSR in 2020,” Vivian explained. “With or without the pandemic, it had to go live and to be in the market. And it was an amazing success.”

Another strong seller in 2020 was their second collaboration with Christopher Nolan and his film Tenet. While films like No Time to Die were delayed and pushed back, leading to the watch to be well introduced before the film was released, Nolan refused to delay Tenet – a decision Vivian notes helped with the sale of the watches. Because the film coincided with the launch of the timepieces, fans of the film were immediately able to engage with a product that played a large role in the action-packed film.

Vivian Stauffer

In 2021, one Hamilton model is so hot they currently need to make more in order to satiate demand. “The best seller I would say, if I’m just talking about the novelties, is the Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze,” he revealed. “We are running behind a bit. We underestimated the power of this product and now we are running behind to be able to deliver enough watches.”

Hamilton is not looking to indulge in the product scarcity phenomenon

While some brands leverage inaccessibility to their products to drive up intrigue and demand, this is not a phenomenon Hamilton looks to indulge. While we both agreed that being behind on demand is a better problem to have then not having enough, it is not Hamilton’s manufacturing philosophy to leave consumers empty-handed.

Vivian explained: “It’s a great thing and it’s a problem. We would prefer that product is readily available because we are not in a price segment where we have to make people wait. I think in our price point when people want to have fun or to purchase the watch for themselves or for a gift, it has to be available. So it’s not appealing if you’re going to wait for years or months to get it. That’s why I’m more in favour of having enough stock on time to fade the demand. But it’s a good problem to have.”

Vivian Stauffer

It was very refreshing to hear a CEO of a brand feel this way, especially when many journalists and collectors have noted that Hamilton timepieces are some of the best options for new or even seasoned collectors, to add quality watches to their collection at an attractive price. Honestly, when people ask me what would be a great first watch, the Khaki Field Mechanical is always at the top of my list for suggestions. So it is cool to know that those looking for the bronze variant of the Khaki Field, or any Hamilton watch really, will be taken care of in as timely a manner as possible.

On or off screen, every Hamilton watch is typically born with a story in mind

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

When you look at the modern Hamilton catalogue there are seven collections on the table, but in a sense they can all be divided into two categories: military heritage and classic icons. The beauty of both is that they each have the common thread of a heritage-driven story. In terms of the field watches, the timepieces look to create a connection between the owner and the watches’ roots in the US Armed Forces. They are an artistic and practical reminder of all those who fought for their country, and utilised Hamilton’s products as a necessary tool.

“We have the three Khaki lines, and that’s our history,” Vivian said. “We were the official supplier of the US Army. And, you know, in the armed force you have the Navy, you have the Air Force and you have the soldier on the ground. So that’s why we have the Khaki Aviation, Khaki Navy, and Khaki Field families.”

On the other hand, you have classic icons such as the Ventura and recently revived PSR. Both modern interpretations of their historical counterparts are meant to be a bridge between the modern Hamilton consumer and the brand’s past as a pioneer of American watchmaking.

“We have the Ventura, which is the icon of Hamilton. We have the American classic family where we take inspiration  from what we have done in the past. And we have the jazz master, which is the more contemporary, more classic line of Hamilton.”

Whether it be the Ventura, which has a well-known relationship with Elvis Presley, or the Pulsar P2 inspired PSR, which captivated audiences while appearing on the wrist of Roger Moore in the James Bond film Live and Let Die, buyers are instantly teleported back in time. This is a strategy that echoes the way in which some of the most in-demand watches today at retail are those that allow new collectors to acquire pieces that evoke their coveted and collectable vintage counterparts. For Hamilton, their watches are time machines in more ways than one.