Tropical Watch
Designing an identity
and e-commerce site
for a timepiece dealer

Jacek Kozubek, a renowned vintage watch dealer, came to Godfrey Dadich with an unusual branding challenge. Kozubek was launching a new venture selling his trademark timepieces, and though he operates in the luxury sector, he wanted the brand identity to feel unpretentious and approachable. He felt the industry had become too stuffy, and he wanted his customers to feel comfortable, whether they were buying their first vintage watch or their fifth, whether they were spending $3,000 or 50 times that. Our goal: to create a brand that would feel high-end but also casual and relaxed.

Our client wanted the Tropical Watch brand to feel luxurious but also relaxed and unpretentious.

Kozubek had already named his venture Tropical Watch, which was our starting point in developing an identity, promotional products, and an online shopping experience. To anyone interested in horology, the term “tropical” refers to vintage timepieces whose dials have faded in the sun over the years, taking on chocolate or sunset tones and richer, more interesting patinas. Kozubek hopes that buying a tropical watch gives his clients the feeling of a beach vacation: It’s like the moment when you slip off your shoes, step onto the sand, and take the first sip of your drink. It’s that moment of “ahhhhh, at last.” 

A striking hero image anchors the online shopping website. 

For inspiration, we looked to the era when many of these watches were produced: the mid-century Jet Age. We studied the colors and styling in the work of photographer Slim Aarons, who captured the lives of postwar jet-setters and celebrities. We pored over midcentury passport stamps, which influenced graphic elements in Tropical Watch’s branding.

Our research also led us to Hoefler & Co.’s Decimal typeface, which was inspired by the markings on classic watches (and which is featured in season 2 of our Netflix series, Abstract, in the Emmy-nominated episode about typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler). We used a marbled texture to give the brand a high-end yet psychedelic feel that matches Kozubek’s personality; he’s both a globally respected expert on vintage luxury watches and a committed Deadhead. And we incorporated a palm tree, an element Kozubek had hoped to see in the branding because of its global resonance.

Our client suggested using a specific shade of light green that he had spotted on a custom-spec’d Ferrari 488 Pista.

Along with the brand identity, we delivered a suite of promotional products, from business cards to tote bags to tissue paper. Throughout the process, we consulted with Kozubek in collaborative working sessions to get a clearer sense of his needs. He was delighted with the results: “I’m blown away with how perfect this is. It’s beyond anything I could have imagined.” He added: “I had the best launch ever. Your branding created so much hype and anticipation. I’m doing better than my competition, and the tote bags have been a crazy hit.”

We created a suite of promotional products, including business cards and tote bags.
Colorful stamps—inspired by midcentury passport insignia—lend a playful edge to the online shopping experience.

For the e-commerce website, we landed on a design with a striking hero image, easy-to-browse pages, and large-scale photography to show every detail of the watches for sale. We also custom-designed clickable buttons with a rounded edge to match the typeface, and we created icons inspired by midcentury passport stamps. The online shopping experience had to be flawless to inspire trust for customers making big-ticket purchases, and it needed the same level of thoughtfulness and polish as the luxury products Kozubek sells.