Arnold Schwarzenegger has just taken the ultimate plunge as a serious watch lover and launched his own brand of eponymously named watches with the new Arnold Schwarzenegger watch brand. Most of the Arnold Schwarzenegger watches will be priced in the $600 – $1,500 range and represent Arnold’s character, career, and timepiece preferences. I sat down with Arnold Schwarzenegger at Baselworld 2015 to chat about watches, his collection, and why now was the time to start his own watch collection with his name on the dial. And, yes of course, the watches are massive. Even the ladies’ versions are 45mm wide.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an impressively accessible person who very much feels like the sum of his life which combines being an athlete, businessman, actor, and politician. Friendly and charismatic, Schwarzenegger continues to pursue his passions as someone who seems to genuinely enjoy what life has brought him. As a watch and car lover, Arnold agreed that the highlights of his year are going to classic car week & the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance near Monterey, California, as well as Baselworld.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a brand out of the man that he has created over his lifetime of effort. Come to think of it, at least on an external level, Arnold Schwarzenegger epitomizes the definition of a “man’s man.” Arnold Schwarzenegger is an archetype of masculinity. He has been on a four decade winning streak, is a self-made made man, and whether or not his tastes fit your own, this is a person who commands respect like very few people living today.
Is it a natural step for this watch lover to become a watch designer? Schwarzenegger claims to have wanted to produce his own watches for a while now, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger watch collection for 2015 is due to a fortunate connection with what is Brazil’s largest watch producer. That’s right, Arnold Schwarzenegger is working with the Brazilian Magnum Group to produce Swiss Made watches. In turn, the Magnum Group has taken this fortunate relationship extremely seriously, bending over backwards in ways few other groups would have done in order to make Arnold’s dream a reality. You might have expected Arnold Schwarzenegger to partner with a more well-known brand among watch lovers (such as Audemars Piguet that he has worked for extensively in the past) but there are some unique benefits to working with the Magnum Group.
First is what I mentioned above about the team of Brazilian designers and engineers working closely under Arnold’s direction. Schwarzenegger proudly shared how their team flew to his home in Los Angeles from Brazil on a regular basis for a year and a half to work directly with him on designs and concepts. Second is the fact that with their manufacturing capacity and know how, they can produce accessibly priced timepieces as well as special high-end models with diamonds (Arnold has been known to love diamonds on some of his watches from time to time).
Think about the logic of this decision for a moment. If Arnold Schwarzenegger was to partner with a major group like the Swatch Group, Richemont, or LVMH to produce timepieces he would merely be a name associated with the venture and would be under the whim, schedule, and decisions of the group. Arnold doesn’t have the time or desire or set up his own factory, so his best bet is to work with a partner who truly wanted to materialize his vision while making it comfortable for him. As major as Arnold Schwarzenegger is, I can’t see a major Swiss company sending people to his home all the time to discuss designs as well as allow him to produce what he really wants unless it perfectly melds with their marketing plans and schedules. So the more you think about it, the more it makes perfect sense why working with a company that is not that well-known outside of Brazil was a great fit for Mr. Schwarzenegger during this watch endeavor.
So what will the Arnold Schwarzenegger watch brand be like, and where will it be sold? As of March 2015, a large series of prototype watches are available for us to play with and get an understanding of the brand but it will not be until closer to Q3 or Q4 2015 before Arnold Schwarzenegger watches will be ready to buy. With that said, we have an extremely good idea of what the collections will be like and the various styles and themes. To put that into perspective, there are over 100 different SKUs in the Arnold Schwarzenegger watch collection right now, but the company’s representatives are clear on the fact that the final retail collection will be smaller.
However, by nature, the Arnold Schwarzenegger watches will be massive, both in size and scope. They will be Swiss Made with sapphire crystals, and containing both quartz and mechanical movements. We are talking about someone with so many major careers, and the brand will focus on three major eras of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life. First are his athletic bodybuilding days, next are his action hero actor days, and last is his time as a politician. Of course, some of these eras flow together, but these are the concepts behind the major product families which, according to the press materials, are:
– THE LEGEND COLLECTION – Inspired by the metallic, military style tools and weight room equipment, reminiscent of Schwarzenegger’s early career.
– THE HERO COLLECTION – Conjures images of Schwarzenegger in his most iconic roles.
– THE HERITAGE COLLECTION – presents a sleek line of authoritative classic timepieces that convey a man of strength and leadership, with an edge.
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Legend collection includes the Iron models, The Hero collection includes the Commander, Caliber, Hunter, and T1983 model ranges, and the Heritage collection includes the Governor, and GT38 model families. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Legend and Hero collections will use Swiss Ronda quartz movements, and the Heritage collection will have Swiss mechanical automatics mostly from Sellita. Case sizes range between about 45mm and 58mm, with water resistance of 100 meters.
Arnold Schwarzenegger spent several minutes speaking in depth about the first collection of watches inspired by his time in the gym as a body builder. As a watch lover worth his weight in Everose gold, Arnold is keenly attuned to small details like the quality of a watch strap. Arnold recalled how amazed he was at the quality of the industrial leather used for his original weight lifting belt from the 1960s. According to him, he wanted high-quality watch straps that would look good over 40 years after being used. For Arnold, durability and longevity seem to be part of how he nerds out on timepieces and other gear (the man owns a tank), so appropriate details on his timepieces make a lot of sense.
The bodybuilding watch collection has design elements inspired by things like dumbbells and gym equipment. The rear of the case says “No Pain No Gain.” From his action hero days, you’ll see things that recall The Terminator, Predator, True Lies, and many more of the military or action movies that helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger the household name that he is today. One of the watches has part of a skull on the dial with a red eye which is clearly a nod to the T-800 android from The Terminator. Another model has a crown with a small pin that is meant to resemble a grenade pin as a testament to all the weapon-wielding characters he has played over the years.
The variety of Arnold Schwarzenegger watches is sort of staggering. Sure, not all of them will make it to final production or be commercially successful, but that really isn’t the point for Mr. Schwarzenegger. You have to remember that he isn’t doing any of this for money. In fact, much of what would be his profits will go to support his longstanding and acclaimed After-School All-Stars program designed to get kids more involved in fitness. Arnold isn’t doing it for the money, Arnold is doing a watch brand because the watch lover in him really wants to.
Arnold shared with me an interesting story of how he started to really get into watches. According to him he never recalls having not been into watches, but it wasn’t until his Hollywood career that he started to become a major collector. It seems to have happened as a result of working with producers in movies to select the right watches for his characters to wear. He said that sometimes 50 or more watches would be laid out in front of him, and they would need to carefully select those watches that fit the persona he was going for in the movie. Often times that persona was a strong, masculine fighter.
Arnold recalls that even back then, he felt disappointed with the timepiece options available to him. “I hate it when watches get lost on my wrist,” he says, when explaining his preference for larger watches. Arnold has impressively wide wrists and very large hands, so anything under 45mm wide simply looks petite on him. It isn’t that Schwarzenegger likes large watches per se, but rather that he likes timepieces which proportionally look good on him. If he were half the size, he would probably be wearing smaller timepieces.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has rarely been seen wearing timepieces under 50mm wide, and that size should help you understand the relative diameter of what most Arnold Schwarzenegger watches will be. With that said, both the shape and diameter of the Arnold Schwarzenegger watch collection will vary. Plus, with a specially curated selection of straps they prove comfortable on most wrists. The timepieces are also colorful and dynamic – with some feeling almost toy-like. As a watch collector, Arnold Schwarzenegger does have an appreciation for fine watch making and haute horology, but for him, timepieces are about communicating your tastes and lifestyle.
Few people can pull off a watch quite like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it feels as though all of the watches in his collection have been made for himself before anyone else. Arnold seems to understand that he chose rather avant-garde timepieces which are not about being timeless or classic, but are rather meant to appeal to a very specific type of person who can relate with Schwarzenegger himself. In a sense, this is a very rare opportunity to own a product that a famous celebrity really designed for himself. Arnold Schwarzenegger timepieces are a uniquely personal look into his mind and tastes. They also represent some of the types of things he has been looking for outside the watch world norm. I got the impression Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to merely adapt the style of other watches he likes out there, but really create something new.
I will admit that if I just walked by these watches without knowing they had something to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I would, personally, just keep on walking and not take too much of a closer look. These are not classic or fine timepieces in the sense that they are meant to compete in terms of style or price with other watches such as Audemars Piguet and Panerai – which are known favorites of Arnold. I am also happy to hear that Arnold and the Magnum team are aware that various changes need to be made in order for the Arnold Schwarzenegger watches to be ready for prime time, including refining the hands and legibility.
The “Schwarzeneggerian” element of the designs pulls me in a bit like a good story in a watch should. I am captivated by the little stories each watch tells and the idea that each piece is large enough to show it. I would likely opt for one of the models with a more simple dial, but I think at the end of the day, there is going to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger watch in the brand that speaks to each of his fans – even if it is just a fun collectible or novelty to wear once in a while. It feels special knowing that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name isn’t merely on the dial, but is the product of so much of his own time and intentions.
As I said above, the scope and breadth of the collection is broad, and some of the Arnold Schwarzenegger watches have analog/digital dials, and some are purely mechanical with Swiss Sellita automatic movements. Colorful and bold, there is an honesty to the design which eschews marketing BS and feels as though these designs genuinely act as an extension of Governor Schwarzenegger himself.
What most people seem to forget – even after they meet him – is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a self-driven man as well as a trained politician. What makes him different from many other people in the watch industry or Hollywood is that looking at his history you really never get the impression Arnold has done things to impress anyone other than himself or attain acceptance from the “public…” as is common among internally self-conscious narcissistic egotists who often populate the entertainment and luxury worlds.
Arnold certainly has charisma and has benefited from the training his political career gave him, but he seems genuinely concerned about other people when interacting with them. He does an excellent job of making you feel like the absolute center of his attention when he is meeting with you – and he comes across as being both passionate, honest, and interesting. Thankfully, I do think he is all of those things, and I am happy to report that meeting this childhood hero of mine was a very positive experience. Arnold is The Terminator, the Governator, and now perhaps The Watchinator?
The colorful, bold, and intense designs that compose the Arnold Schwarzenegger watch brand are anything but mainstream in their appeal, but at the same time, Arnold Schwarzenegger him is. Will everyone who has a place for Arnold Schwarzenegger in their heart want to get one of these timepieces even though their designs are clearly not for everyone? Perhaps, just for days when they need a little Arnold-inspired courage and machismo to boost them along? These are all questions which his fans will need to answer for themselves – and if anyone is doing a watch brand for the right reasons, it is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has turned one of his passions into an extension of his lifestyle and personal brand.
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t likely to give up wearing timepieces in his collection of “drawers and drawers of watches.” That isn’t what having his own brand is all about. This is part of his personal legacy that will last as long as he and his memory survives in our collective culture. His watch brand will likewise exist as an extension of our desire for timepieces and a love of all things Arnold.
As of now, the typical price range of Arnold Schwarzenegger watches will be $565 to $2,790, and the first watches should be available for sale around September 2015.