The headline for IWC’s Pilot watch: “Engineered for Aviation.” While the Rolex Yacht Master is “a chronograph created specifically for yacht racing.” I’ll get to the third ad later but if these two 4-figure watches were designed specifically for airline pilots and fancy boat racers how come it’s trust fund babies and hip hop stars that are wearing them?

This is basically a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious: pretentious myths appeal to pretentious people. The makers of these watches know as much. So do all of us in advertising. Hell, we make a pretty good living coming up with these silly fables.

Still, it seems oddly passé coming across such blatant paeans to materialism and SUCCESS. So eighties. With millennials wearing social causes on their sleeves it strikes me as odd to offer them something so bling-y to wear on their wrists.

Likely young people aren’t the target. Maybe these watches are for Gen-Y or Boomers trying to reconnect with their boyhood dreams of flying planes and sailing ships.

Or perhaps the copy is going for the authenticity vibe, you know, to try and impress people who assume watches made “specifically” for deep sea diving or flying jets must be damn fine watches.

The problem with all that is pilots have instrument panels for measuring barometric pressure and altitude, to say nothing of telling time. Honestly, I’m guessing most pilots wear the watch his/her spouse gave him/her for Christmas.

And who races yachts… really? Like one percent of the so-called 1%? Honestly, the concept of yacht racing is so f-cking annoying I can’t imagine anyone relating to it. Even the average rich person thinks yachts are for sheiks and douchebags. But that’s Rolex.


The third ad, for Tudor, suggests their watch is made for “several days walk from any trace of mankind.” It is what one wears on an “epic journey to the frozen expanse of the Arctic.” I’m not sure how this message would appeal to anyone. I guess with the oceans and skies already spoken for there was no place left to go. Oh well. Over the years, Automakers have sold untold millions of SUV’s promising their ability to traverse places none of their customers will ever go either.

(Full disclosure: With no intention of deep sea diving, I purchased a Rolex Submariner in 1996. I wanted something iconic and grown-up to replace the Seiko I still wore my mother gave me when I graduated high school.)

Anyone see this commercial for the new Mazda 3, comparing the vehicle to none other than martial arts icon, Bruce Lee. I’m old enough to remember Lee and can recall paying two bucks at the long gone Parkway Theater in Chicago to see his films. Such was Lee’s influence, all of my friends purchased nunchucks, spending hours in front of the mirror practicing his lightning fast moves. I can recall my best friend Dave splitting open his brother’s forehead during an unfortunate battle reenactment. Ah, boyhood.

Though dying young, Bruce Lee was and still is a badass. Of this there can be no debate.

What is debatable is comparing the man to an affordable sports car, or any car for that matter. The copy tells us that because of “Skyactiv technology the Mazda 3 is lighter yet stronger and more nimble” just like the martial arts master himself. “With an engine that punches above its weight.” Ouch.

The argument makes sense on one level. Bruce Lee was a compact man with a great deal of power. But on so many other levels the copy is, well, silly. Bruce Lee is dead. And he would never drive this car. Buying the rights to a few of his film clips doesn’t override the discrepancy between an icon and a middle-of-the-road sports sedan.

Japanese car? I don’t think so.

And another thing. Mazda is a Japanese automaker. Bruce Lee was Chinese. Historically, these two countries despised one another. Whether that’s a fair statement now is beside the point. In most of Lee’s films (and in many 70’s era Kung-Fu films in general) the Chinese protagonist played a hero who battled evil Japanese foes (and their inferior karate), usually portrayed as warlords, murderers and rapists. In Fists of Fury, Bruce Lee defends Chinese honor against thuggish and racist aggression from the Japanese.

Staring in a Japanese car commercial, Bruce Lee must be banging his fists against his coffin. Furiously.

I’m sure we’ve all moved on. But this is just weird. It would be like using Mohammed Ali to sell a Chevy truck with Sweet Home Alabama as the soundtrack.