Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Greatest Marketing Campaign That Never Was (a marketing campaign) - Part 1

For the past 20 plus years, I have been writing about Vulcain, and more specifically the Vulcain Cricket and its relationship to various US Presidents. And what I've learned along the way is that there is a dearth of actual, factual information on how so many US Presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon) came to be Vulcain Cricket owners. Several of my more well-heeled colleagues in the Fourth and Fifth Estate (and to some extent, yours truly as well) have sustained a fairly flawed belief that the Vulcain watch company had conceived of, and launched a marketing campaign to present a watch to each US Presidents. And after a visit to Vulcain HQ and a perusal of what documentation actually exists, it became quite clear to me that I needed a better source...
Well, all I can say is that it's good to have friends! A few calls were made, and Michel Ditisheim invited me to come over and talk about the Cricket, the Presidents, his friendship with the Paajanen family, and even a bit about life.
For those of you just turning in, Michel Ditisheim
is perhaps the last, best link to the original Vulcain, the "middle" Vulcain and today's Vulcain. His father was the inventor of the original Cricket. Michel worked with the Paajanen family to help present Vulcain Cricket watches to former US Presidents in the 1990s and 2000s, and he was instrumental in shepherding Vulcain through the rocky quartz crisis and ultimately to its reemergence with new owners in Le Locle earlier this century. His father, 
Robert Ditisheim, was not unlike the guy who said "What if we slice the bread, before we sell it?" In other words, when he created the Vulcain Cricket, he brought to reality something many people wanted - they just didn't know it yet!
"It was a sensation!"  - Michel Ditisheim.

So what is agreed upon by everyone? The very first Vulcain Cricket to be presented to a sitting US President was given to Harry Truman by the White House Press Corps. It was not a gift from Vulcain. When I asked Mr. Ditisheim why they chose the Vulcain Cricket, his answer was elegantly succinct - "It was a sensation!"
It is important to understand that at the time it was introduced, the Cricket represented something that had not been seen before. A wrist watch with an alarm. What was often referred to as a "secretary on the wrist".  It's interesting that many of us think of alarm watches as useful for waking us up. But for you younger readers out there, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and we typed out our correspondence with an Olivetti Lettera 22 -
Courtesy of Wikipedia
 We did not receive Google Reminders on our cell phones. Owners of alarm watches would use them frequently during the day to set the alarm for meeting reminders, etc.

Yes, the Vulcain Cricket was indeed a sensation. So it made sense that the press corps would present such a watch to President Truman. But then the history gets murkier. 

So stay tuned, we're going to shed some much needed light!

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