It has a strong case, that’s for sure. When we think of watches, it’s fair enough that many of us would automatically jump to the expensive, longstanding brands who everyone seems to know: we’re talking Rolex, Omega, and even Jaeger-LeCoultre. While these businesses are obviously well respected and make impressive watches, are they cool? You could say that the art of being cool is to be different from everyone else and not giving a damn about their image (think the rebel kid with the motorbike and leather jacket). Nixon is most definitely a watch manufacturer (among other things) in this regard, with a breezy, laidback Californian attitude that a kick out of being unique, modern, and undeniably cool.
In the words of Nixon themselves, on their official website, the brand takes a lot of pride in making products that it believes has a bit more style and personality than something from the Swiss watchmakers, which rely so heavily on their traditional watchmaking:
“When you choose to wear a watch, put on your headphones, or select a wallet to hold your hard earned cash, you deserve to have something that reflects your entire package. You may not know how to say it, but you’ve got something to say and you can’t slap on an off-the-shelf piece and consider yourself you.”
It’s clear then, that since 1998 Nixon puts a lot of effort into something that’s got a bit of personality and where the designers have been giving the green light to have fun. Let’s take, for example, Nixon’s pride and joy right now: the Dork Too. A successor to the popular original Dork watch, this is a bit geeky and downright silly, but in the end, it’s cool because it’s at least trying something different. A watch that relies not on fitness tracking features or an elegant bezel filled with gold and diamonds, the Dork Too’s main attraction is it’s chunky, robust, retro look and the ability to read out the time when a button is pressed. It also features a few other phrases, like ‘Beer me’ and ‘Mondayyyyyy’.
What about their competitors?
When it comes to digital watches, Casio and Seiko have certainly had their moments. Casio had a great run during the 90s with its hugely popular F-91W, and Seiko reportedly invented the first LCD quartz-powered watch in 1973 and continued to revolutionize digital watches into the 80s, with several collector’s items from those eras likely to be found on second hand watch sites if you’re lucky. However, one could easily argue that those two brands could never quite diversify the designs enough to stay relevant in the late 2010s. No, the mantle of King of Digital Watches easily belongs to Nixon right now, as it’s one of the few companies out there willing to take a risk on designs and not play it safe.
It’s clear that other big names feel the same draw towards Nixon’s rebellious, unconventional methods, and the company has released special edition collaboration mechanical watches from Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, and even Metallica. Sure, Damien Hirst and Panerai is a fine partnership as any, but find me another watch brand who could get Disney admirers, Star Wars geeks, and Metallica’s headbanging fans to join under the same watch banner.
What’s in a name?
When all is said and done, even the company’s name may or may not be a tongue in cheek suggestion to a rather disliked former American president. When interviewed by ISPO.com, Nixon’s founders, Chad DiNenna and Andy Laats, explained that they liked the idea of having a name that would be divisive. “When we said, ‘Nixon,’ everybody stopped and thought about it. We saw that we had a name that was recognizable but unoccupied,” said DiNenna. “Parents didn’t like it either, which seemed like an added bonus since we weren’t making watches for anybody’s mother.”
Something that your parents hate… what’s cooler than that?