Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 4.28.58 PMOur 2013 Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry report found Patek Philippe to be the last major brand in the category to hold out on developing an official Facebook account. However, a search for the brand on Facebook brings up three unofficial pages, one with 3.5x times the engagement rate of our Index’s average. All three pages are updated regularly and have enough brand-related content to be mistaken for a corporate page. The most popular, with 92,772 likes, has existed since February 2010.

Patek Philippe’s resistance to social media is not surprising. Watches & Jewelry brands are well known for their late adoption of digital. A survey of Swiss watchmakers revealed that 47% still believe social media presents a reputational risk. What’s interesting is how Patek Philippe has completely handed off its social media presence to fans, and obtained favorable results. Many digitally forward brands such as Coach and Marc Jacobs have moved user-generated content to the forefront of their digital presence, but Patek Philippe’s Facebook page may be one of the best examples yet.

Prior to launching an official site on Facebook in April, Rolex was the other social media holdout. Rolex also had one of the most engaged fan-bases on the social media platform. Leveraging the unofficial brand communities, it was able capture 1.5 million fans in six months. It will be interesting to see whether the fan pages will continue to benefit Patek Philippe, or will the brand determine the need to control its Facebook presence as Rolex did.

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