On August 21st, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tarō Kōno（@konotarogomame
） was photographed during a meeting with South Korea’s Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha. There wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the meeting, nor was there anything particularly important about what was happening in the photograph.
And yet the photo went viral, causing quite a bit of controversy. How does a run-of-the-mill diplomatic meeting between two allies cause such a stir? It was all because of the watch Mr. Kōno chose to wear that day.
How a Watch Becomes a Scandal
The backlash against the photograph was immediate and scathing. Critics on the internet attacked Mr. Kōno for his ostentatious display of wealth, calling the large gold watch he wore on his right arm, “shameful”. Many people echoed the sentiment that Mr. Kōno wasn’t displaying the appropriate modesty for the occasion and that he was an embarrassment to the Japanese people.
Whether or not you agree with this sentiment, the real issue here is that the watch in question wasn’t a gold watch at all. And it certainly wasn’t an extravagant display of wealth.
The watch Mr. Kōno wore that day was a finely crafted bamboo watch, sold by the Chinese company Bobobird. And while it features attractive, minimalist styling and quality manufacturing, the watch isn’t expensive. The model in question, their Men’s D19 bamboo watch runs for $29.95 on bobobird.com.
As controversy mounted Mr. Kōno posted photos of the watch he had on that day, making certain everyone understood that his watch wasn’t an expensive gold watch and was, in fact, the perfect timepiece for the occasion. Stylish yet understated, demonstrating that he, and by proxy, the Japanese people had fine tastes, yet understood that this could be had without fixating on wealth.
There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
When officers at Bobobird heard what was happening they were thrilled. Never before had one of their watches, or possibly any watch ever, become the center of international controversy. But it didn’t surprise them. They understand full well why tens of thousands of people on the internet could mistake their simple bamboo watch for an extravagant gold timepiece. Bobobird wooden watches are extremely attractive, unique timepieces that few have ever seen before.
Those that assumed the watch was made of gold did so because it never occurred to them that a watch could be made from wood. But Bobobird has created a market for fine wooden watches, with styling and value that belie the low price tag. Bobobird believes that high-fashion shouldn’t be the exclusive domain of the wealthy and that quality craftsmanship should be accessible to everyone.
It’s ironic that a watch built by a company that believes that you shouldn’t have to be wealthy to own fine things was lambasted as a symbol of ostentatious wealth, but Bobobird is happy about that, too. It’s proof, they say, that they’re doing something right.
If one of their inexpensive wooden watches can be mistaken for a much more expensive gold watch then they’re living up to their mission, creating dapper, attractive watches for men and women at prices that everyone can afford.
If you’d like your own Bobobird watch or are simply interested in perusing their selection, visit bobobird.com. There you can see their full selection of beautiful timepieces. Never before has luxury been so affordable.