The need for emotional connection between brand and consumer has never been more paramount in the modern day consumer experience. Meet the watch brand entering the market with the agenda to spotlight everyday heroes and encourage its wearers to live life a little closer to the edge.
Should you ever decide to research the etymology behind the word ‘risk’ on a rainy day, you’ll find a host of derivatives claiming its origin. There’s the French offering of ‘risquer,’ an Italian with ‘risco’ to run into danger and the classical Greek ριζα, meaning root, later used in Latin for cliff. Either or, the word seems to come with a big red warning sign saying stop exactly what you’re doing. But, if the emotional sobering of the past year taught us anything, there’s two lessons to learn from. One: life’s two short to not take risk, and two: there’s strength in community.
Cultivating a sense of community sits high on the agenda in the watch world today as brands invest large proportions of their marketing strategy in immersive experiences where clients, press and the brand team all come together for highly-curated adventures to launch the latest models. For Riskers, the idea of collective goes beyond that. “Today’s fragmented and unstable world can be disappointing and frightening,” shares Pierre Guerrier, the co-founder of the novel watch brand. “We need to be reassured that the notion of community is still worth something and that it has a future.”
Riskers cites itself as a company ‘born of heroism and inspired by men doing extraordinary things.’ So much so that each watch is dedicated to an unabashed ambassador throughout history from war veterans to present day charitable leaders combating poverty across the globe. In a marriage of old and new, Riskers takes the path less trodden in the watch world. It’s not about CEOs, CFOs and seniority – it’s about a core team striving to reach the same goal. Composed of four members – each with prior experience at internationally renowned brands – Malo le Bot, Alexandre Peraldi and Emmanuel de la Brosse make up the quartet of this community, set out to counter the egocentric prose of the news by highlighting the greatness of ordinary people. “ Riskers was designed to create a community,” offers Guerrier. “We were never looking for massive artificial subscribers. We created connections with those who follow us for who we are.”
To take a risk is to not only show an act of bravery, but to believe in chance too. It’s an unsolvable equation and you’ve got no clue if it’s going to work or not, but fostering this attitude from an early age, Guerrier, who studied Management and later Marketing and Communication at university stumbled into the world of horology fortuitously. During his studies, Guerrier was invited to intern under Cartier, without knowing that he was going to spend the next fifteen years under the luxury goods holding company Richemont, who own Cartier. Beginning in the Marketing Services department, Guerrier climbed the ladders through client research to branding strategy and later, operational marketing. Corporate jargon aside, “that’s when the exciting adventure began,” he notes, entrusted to oversee the men’s watch collections for Piaget, including the legendary Altiplano watch – the brand’s most iconic watch, dubbed as one of the world’s thinnest watches.
“In 2017, I was approaching 40 years old. It was time to decide what comes next,” reflects Guerrier. “After that, I don’t think you have enough madness left to go for it. There was an old fascination running through my head: the mythical trench watch of the First World War. I was convinced that this would be incredible inspirational territory for a good designer. And I knew a great one!” Taking a leap of faith, and launching a Kickstarter fundraiser where 80% of the buyers came from the community followers, Guerrier was certain that to thrive in an exceptionally competitive market, clinging onto nostalgia too much might have its limits. Instead, he returned to his foundations, understanding client needs and realised what makes something timeless is the emotion it carries with it. The Harvard Business review calls it ‘the new science of customer emotions’ whereby emotional connection and quality storytelling promotes loyalty between brand and consumer. It’s no secret that Gen Z and Millennials are far likely to prioritise purchases that feel authentic and evoke individual memories.
A watch is anything but a rational purchase. “We no longer need a watch to tell the time. But we still need a watch to say who we are, what our dreams or values are,” shares Guerrier. “ The watch is therefore a purely emotional object,” something which Guerrier feels is often forgotten in the industry. “The tragedy of the major players in the luxury sector is that they still have outdated, status-oriented communication mechanisms. Today, people want genuine stories.” For Riskers, these stories manifest in models that pay tribute to risk takers both past and present. Their inaugural four models feature: Albert Roche, distinguished as a successful French soldier in the First World War; a leading academic Guillaume D’Abovillewho joined the NGO Enfants du Mékong (Children of Mekong) to help the livelihood of children in poor economic conditions; the French Mountain troops, deployed on military operations and made major contribution to the introduction of skiing and the development of its practice in France at the beginning of the 20th century and lastly; PIerre Müller, an emergency doctor in a bush clinic in New Caledonia, practicing emergency medicine and mountain rescue for 15 years.
Despite the male-dominated roster, which Guerrier acknowledges and notes the future growth of, the aim is to portray a real diversity of heroes across all genders and nationalities. “Our criteria is that the hero has taken a risk (financial, physical, moral or social) and that he or she has done it for others or in a collective dynamic. Riskers is not an individualistic adventure. For instance, the trench watch was the object that soldiers took from home. It reminded them of home-life and their loved ones. We wanted to create an object with a strong identity and at the same time very sensual, soft and reassuring on the wrist. We decided that each watch would tell a human story, that of a hero,” shares Guerrier. “We quickly decided that we would not only talk about the soldiers of the First World War but more specifically about those who are taking risks for others today. We have never seen so many series and films about superheroes. Today’s generations need to dream, to be inspired. The hero by committing himself to others gives this sense.
For all of the uncertainty in the world, one thing we can always depend on is that time will continue on. Perhaps that’s what sets Riskers apart from new brands looking to make it in the industry, combining two juxtaposed visions, time as a reliable source, while risk is more precarious. “All of our clients come with their stories and our conversations are very meaningful,” Guerrier notes. It’s not simply about striking a commercial conversation, but a dialogue of longevity. “The brand name is also quite statutory. Clients like to identify with risk-takers. It’s empowering. We have designed a real luxury watch under €2000.” Boasting limited edition models at an amicable price tag, each watch has been created with a humanitarian conscience, by donating part of the proceeds from the sales of each associated watch.
Perhaps you’re not daring enough to be the risk-tasker jumping off mountains – and there’s no shame in that – but maybe you’re a Risker instead, honoring the lives of those bold enough to feel the fear, and know that there is risk enough in our daily lives, discovering new things, arguing your case, and standing for what you believe in.