Cartier Pasha watch campaign

PARIS — Setting the bar for luxury in a coronavirus era, Cartier has called on a diverse cast of assured stars for this year’s blockbuster watch launch for the label — the new Pasha edition — that kicks off in China.

The Compagnie Financière Richemont-owned brand has assembled Rami Malek, Troye Sivan, Willow Smith, Maisie Williams and Jackson Wang for the campaign, which includes a movie with all five discussing creativity and achievement, as well as short films featuring each one, and images by photographer Craig McDean, all set to flood social channels starting July 1 in China. South Korea will be next, starting in mid-July, followed by a Sept. 4 launch elsewhere in the world. Given the star power backing the campaign, and the diversity of the group, it will be noticed from the get-go, predicted Arnaud Carrez, Cartier’s marketing and communications director.

“You will see that the buzz is going to increase during the summer starting in China. It will have a ripple effect, people will talk about it, given the five individuals — it will go viral everywhere around the world very soon,” predicted Carrez. 

The campaign, which the executive described as “unexpected,” had been planned in advance, and the film was shot in New York in January. 

“We’ve always been committed to engaging diverse people, talented people across various communities but I would say that this is a premiere for us to gather such a diverse and international group of individuals with strong individuality, people who are changemakers in their respective creative fields,” he continued. 

In a statement describing the choice of ambassadors, Cartier said they represent a generation of talents who have “cultivated their own uniqueness.”  

“Each one of them has very strong convictions, they are very committed, very engaged and I think what is also very important is they contribute to cultural, artistic and social changes, they are nonconformist,” noted Carrez, describing the individuals fronting the campaign.

Asked about the youthful age range of the campaign figures — most are in their 20s, though Smith is 19 and Malek is 39 — Carrez pointed to the house’s history of catering to a “multigenerational” audience. 

“Some are very young, but it’s not so much about the age — we’ve always been keen to embrace diversity — when I say diversity it’s always multigenerational diversity, and I think it’s in relation with our creations that cater to a very diverse audience,” he said, ticking off collections with wide appeal, like the Love and Trinity jewelry lines or the Tank, Santos and Panthère watches. 

“If you look at China, the share of Millennials is already very high and accounts for the bigger share of our sales, so we are already very engaged with these audiences,” he added.

China was already the main source of growth for luxury brands before the coronavirus struck, but the crisis has reinforced the country’s importance to the sector. One of the earlier markets to emerge from lockdowns, China’s digitally savvy consumers are serving as a crucial testing ground for important launches. And with international tourism on pause, famously high-spending Chinese travelers are restricted to making purchases on their home turf. 

Cartier joined Tmall’s Luxury Platform in February, becoming the first hard luxury label to open a virtual selling space on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.

The results have been “far above our expectations,” said Carrez, who noted the platform’s importance for gaining insight to use in other markets. 

“I think it’s going to be a real test,” he said, referring to the launch of the Pasha edition in China.

Inspired by a model dating back to the early half of the 20th century, the Pasha watch was launched in 1985, followed by a steel version a decade later. The house has modernized the timepiece, which carries design elements contrasting square shapes with a circular dial with the time indicated with just four, prominent, Arabic numerals.

“This watch has always been a symbol of style and strength of character,” asserted Carrez.