Established in 1892 by brothers Robert Hawley Ingersoll and Charles Henry Ingersoll in New York, NY, Ingersoll is a brand of high-end watches for men and women sold worldwide. Originally produced by hand and sold at $1 a piece — a day’s wages at that time — the company introduced automated production in 1896 with the help of none other than Henry Ford and since then have been producing high-quality watches used and praised by many, including notable individuals like U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi. In the 1930s they worked with Disney to create the iconic Mickey Mouse watch where his hands tell the time and by 1957 they had made 25 million of them. Passing through a number of owners over the years, the Ingersoll brand is currently owned by Zeon Watches, a British subsidiary of the Chinese company Herald Group, and distributed in more than 50 countries. At this year’s Baselworld watch Fair, Ingersoll introduced a new identity designed by London, UK-based A New Kind Of Kick.
A New Kind Of Kick gave the traditional watch brand a new sense of direction and a new lease of life, as a result of re-examining their forgotten history, from this ‘The True Original’ was reborn. Our challenge was to put style and meaning back into a historic brand that had lost its foundations. To discover their magic and form the thread that would run through every touch point.
Tweaking the existing logo to include the brands founding date further cements the companies history. Also incorporating the original founders signature into much of brands print and packaging.
It’s unfortunate that the logo didn’t change at all. It was prime for a redrawing by expert hands — paging Dr. Rob Clarke — and would have catapulted this new identity to even greater results. We’ll have to assume that a proper logo redesign was a non-starter with the client in which case, yeah, the bigger and more separated “1892” is a big improvement as is the move away from red. The addition of the signature as an identity element is good because pretty much any company with origins beyond the 1900s must use its founder’s signature as an identity element — I acknowledge this sounds like a little bit of sarcasm but people back then did have kick-ass signatures that look great today.
The few applications shown are quite nice. There is nothing revolutionary about them and, in a way, they sort of not stand out but everything is very well designed, made, and presented. It has a kind of late 1990s, Graphis-winning, early-VSA Partners look that’s satisfying and reassuring in an odd way — you don’t see this kind of design anymore perhaps for a good reason but, to me, this works quite well.
All the campaigns have been shot using Tintype photography, a forgotten technique dating back to the 19th century. The laborious process of exposing photosensitive tin plates links back to the birth date of Ingersoll and our proposition ‘A True Original’. Shooting on location in Austin, New York City and New Orleans.
Even the ads have a bit of an old-school advertising structure and approach — it’s not the usual wild posting images we have nowadays of random design elements on rectangles on a wall. These have actual art direction, which is a rare thing and the tintype images are really great because, yeah, they always come out great.
The brand was relaunched at the Basel World watch fair in Switzerland. Taking direct inspiration from late 19th century American dry goods stores from the time of the brands original inception. We juxtaposed this with modern luxury features bringing the brand to life for a contemporary audience. Standout features included a wall of boxes, lead-lined windows and vintage haberdashery cabinets.
The highlight of the project is the exhibit at the watch fair that takes direct cues from images of the early days of Ingersoll reinvented with a contemporary, elegant flair. That wall of boxes? Hot then, hot now. The branding on the space is minimal but the overall, subdued tone is very precise and effective in conveying both the quality of the product and its storied past. Overall, the identity and campaign establish a clear picture of what kind of watches these are and for whom.