In early 2018, Tom Ford and his eponymous brand launched their first watch, the Tom Ford 001. Now, they’re ready to release their first automatic watch. It looks like they new release will be in a classic round case, with both automatic and quartz movement options.
Tom Ford’s first watch effort is a collection of rectangular, tank-style, quartz-powered watches that come in 27mm x 40mm or 30mm x 44mm sizes. The rectangular case comes in 18k gold or stainless steel with either a brushed, polished, or matte finish. Prices range from $9,900 for the large 18k gold version to $2,190 for the medium stainless steel version.
The timepieces are being manufactured by Bedrock Manufacturing, a company we’ve covered here before as the parent company of Shinola and Filson (while being owned by the same guy who started Fossil). Tom Ford’s website leaves scant details about the movements powering its watches, except for saying that the timepieces are made in Switzerland and have quartz movements. Shinola/Bedrock’s historical Swiss manufacturing partner is Ronda, so if I had to take a guess I’d bet the TF 001 collection is using Ronda movements.
The watches are simple two-handers. Tom Ford said he hates the quartz tick, so he didn’t want that present on his watches. Fair enough — many Cartier Tank models (not to mention the Jaegre LeCoultre Reverso, the other obvious rectangular competitor here) don’t have a seconds hand either.
Tom Ford has also emphasized the ease with which anyone can change the strap on their TF 001. No need for special tools or a visit the the jeweler to swap out. Thank goodness more brands are doing this.
More important for Tom Ford the business, the interchangeable straps encourage multiple purchases, and the brand’s website offers a wide variety of (expensive) straps for just that. There’s a $620 alligator strap, available in 16 shades (why not hot pink?), a $420 braided leather strap, and two more traditional leather strap options at $220. The alligator and leather straps are made in Italy, the braided leather is made in a French town long known for the technique.
In many ways, Tom Ford the man is the ultimate consumer of Tom Ford the clothing brand, and he probably summed up his feelings about jumping into the watch game best:
“I don’t know that I would buy a $20,000 watch from Tom Ford,” the designer said during a recent phone interview from his Los Angeles office. “If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I would buy a different watch, and I’m really our customer in so many ways. But would I spend $2,700 for really great watch in steel with a black face and interchangeable bands, or $8,000 for a gold one? Yes.”
I’d argue that it’s still hard to justify spending that much on a brand that just started making watches a year ago, especially when the most obvious competition, a Cartier Tank, is around the same price. Or, if the interchangeable straps mean that much to you, the square Cartier Santos utilizes the brand’s new QuickSwitch system, allowing wearers to quickly change straps.
Oh, in a recent interview with GQ UK, Tom had some other thoughts on the multiple uses of his watch straps as well:
“Our watch straps work as cock rings as well, by the way. They do. Just yank the strap out of your watch, thread it through and pull. I don’t need a cock ring, but I suppose some people do. Woven leather is gentle and it doesn’t rip out pubic hair.”
While this collection of watches is the first bearing Tom Ford’s name, he also oversaw watches during his time at Gucci, Boucheron, and Yves Saint Laurent. It’s a natural category extension for his own brand, which he launched in 2006. And selling a bunch of watches produced by Bedrock at prices above $2,000 has to be bringing in killer margins for the brand. Additionally, it introduces new consumers to the brand, and old Tom Ford consumers to watches.
As much as I hate on Bedrock and founder Tom Kartsotis, they have done more than just about anyone to introduce young people to classic, analog timepieces, which alone is worthy of praise. Now, the Tom Ford-Bedrock partnership is introducing a set of luxury consumers to an elegant wristwatch. And everyone’s making a bunch of money while they do it.