Time Is Love – An Analysis of Solvil et Titus Commercial – 1: The Young Couple

For this post, I decided to write something other than about Risa.

Solvil et Titus is a watch maker owned by a Hong Kong company. I understand that they were 2 different companies that were later bought and the present owner changed the brand to “Solvil et Titus”.

The company is quite good at making beautiful and touching commercials. I came across one that I really liked. It was titled Miss Cellanous or 杂物小姐 and I believe that it was aired in 2011. The story was about a young woman who was slowly disposing of items that did not seem to be hers. Finally, she was left with a Solvil et Titus that was obviously a man’s model. Through these items and her interactions with the young man, we understand that she has difficulty letting go of her love though he had already left her. There are a multitude of symbols and images in this story and once we understand them, we can see how thoughtfully and lovingly the director made this short story.

Miss Cellanous / 杂物小姐’s commercial is below. This one has the ending that I prefer.

Someone made an analysis of this story which I really enjoyed. Here we can see the symbols in each shot and what they meant. My apologies to non Mandarin speakers.

Ring and Knot Commercials

(Note: I have added the director, Nick Lim’s comments and clarifications after he answered my queries offline.)

Then in 2018, Solvil et Titus launched their Ring and Knot commercial with a series of 3 stories. These were even better than Miss Cellanous and whoever wrote and directed it also gave the same care as the previous one. The motifs, images and symbols were there in abundance.

(The director was Nick Lim. You can contact him here – https://www.hellonick.com/)

The stories touched something in me and I decided to take the 3 commercials shot by shot and have a closer look. When I understood them, I was so touched that I had to do an analysis and share it with others. I hope that whoever wrote this commercial and shot it will make a movie one day. I would love to see a full length love story directed by this person.

I will cover the first story here featuring the young couple. The next two stories will come in subsequent posts. The link below shows all 3 stories in sequence, so please forward to the correct point to view each one. It is good to watch them together as you will notice similar symbols and motifs appearing throughout them.

Story 1 – The Young Couple

“All I need is a pair of hands that will never let go”.
We see a young lady trying to grasp the young man’s hand at the start of the story. However he does not seem ready to hold hers. He retracts his and runs playfully away from her. In addition, there are shots showing physical distance between them. It symbolises that he is not ready for commitment. At the scene on the bridge, the young lady was doing the same thing, but we notice that they did not cross it. This reinforces the idea that they (or most likely he) are not ready to move to the next phase of their relationship.

We then see them crossing a street and this seem to imply that they are crossing into a new phase in their relationship. However we saw your pouting (cutely I might add) and she is obviously not quite happy because….though they are “connected”, it is not the kind of connection she wants. They were linked by a bag.

However this scene is important because this is the first time that we see them “connected”. There is progress, but something more suitable to represent it is missing…

The scene then cuts to the young man looking at something and he is deep in thought.

The scene cuts into a close up of the Titus watch and we realise that this is the symbol that we have been waiting for.
The watch has an intertwined bracelet, symbolizing the intertwining of 2 lives. It is also gold whose meaning will play a big part in connecting the series.

It now occurs to us that, unlike the couples in the next 2 stories, this young girl does not have a watch. This watch is a symbol of commitment in place of a traditional ring. The young couple is still not ready, or rather the young man is not.

(Nick confirmed that the the watch was purposely left out. The watch which the young man saw was the symbol of commitment and it was implied that the watch was given to her later. He preferred not to have a scene where she was given the watch).

His thoughts are shown in a montage of 3 shots. They look similar to the 1st set of montage, but they are also different. In the 3 cuts, the physical distance between them reduces until there was no distance between them. The 3rd shot reveals that he is now emotionally connected with her. He is now ready.

Shot 1: Similar to the earlier one where she is trying to grasp his hand – the distance between them was the same

Shot2: This was similar to an earlier shot, but this time, they were much closer, walking side by side.

Shot 3: This is the first time we see them so close. There is no more physical distance between them. His emotional connection with her is now complete.

The scene now cuts back to the store front with “Time Is Love”, reminding us that the watch is a symbol marital commitment.

We suddenly see a hand tap him on the shoulder and realises that it was the girl. We now see a change in him. Instead of the girl chasing for his hand, this time, he starts running after her. This is the first time in the story that we see him running after her. He has made his decision to make her part of his life.

In the next scene, we see him walking behind her, looking longingly. He is holding 2 ice cream cones and handed 1 to her. She accepts. This is the first time their hands connect. He has made the decision to bring her into his life. He reaches out to grasp hers, sealing his decision.

(I asked if the ice creams symbolised anything. Nick said that he needed an ending scene that the boy finally want to hold the girl’s hand as a commitment and thought it could be quite sweet and natural for him to free up one of his hand by passing the ice cream and then to hold the girl’s hand.)

The commercial ends with the girl asking “Where are we going?”

His answer comes: “Anywhere with you”.
It does not matter, as long as I am with you.
This also answers her wish in the start of the commercial “all I need is a pair of hands that will never let go”

Also notice that this was the first time she was wearing a white blouse, hinting at the idea of marriage and the bridal gown.

(Nick said that the white blouse was not meant to symbolise anything thing. I was reading too much into it. Lol…)

The question “Where are we going?” is also answered by the last shot at the river where the couple is walking along the river towards the passing train in the background. The river also represents the passing of time and notice that the couple is walking towards the passing train, symbolizing that they are walking together towards their future. The train passes by and crosses the bridge. The motif returns and is symbolic of crossing into the next phase in their life.

This was a beautifully shot commercial and the song was well chosen. The song is in Cantonese which I do not understand, but the title is 你的名字我的姓氏, “Your Name, My Surname“. Its core message is in this chorus:

从此以后无忧无求
故事平淡但当中有你
已经足够

I do not worry any more. Though our story may be plain and simple, I am contented as long as you are there

The analysis of the next film, the Newly Weds, can be found HERE:

John 3:16-17
New King James Version

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

5 thoughts on “Time Is Love – An Analysis of Solvil et Titus Commercial – 1: The Young Couple

    1. Hi Nick! Thank you for taking the time to drop me a note. I really like the 3 short films that you made for SeT. I still watch them on and off. Its rare to find films and songs that are thoughtfully written nowadays. Can you share your thoughts and experience with this project?

      I watched the director’s cut and I can’t help but feel that you might have had a different vision from what the client wanted. They have a different vibe and seems to be trying to tell a slightly different story.

      I am curious as to the storyboard planning and especially the editing after shooting. Did the team actually try to frame the shots and scenes to use as imagery, motifs and symbols? Because, if the shots came together and the symbols just appeared coincidentally, I think it is really a one in a million chance.

      Also, did you do the Miss Cellanous ad for SeT too? That is my favourite. I ended up buying that exact watch in the ad (2 actually…. 😛 . Searched high and low for it because it was out of production then for i think 2 or more years by then. I only noticed that ad 5 years after it was first aired. But if you did that one, kudos to you! You sure did a good job! 😀

  1. Hi, just had re-read your 3 posts on the films. I think you’ve deconstructed them well for the details intended not to be over-told. Most of your analysis were accurate while some, probably over interpreted. But it’s always good for a piece of creative work to leave room for viewers to complete their own picture.

    I love the stories and the job brief given by the ad agency/client were quite basic. 3 hand-holding stories about 3 different couples in 3 different ages. Spices, or symbols and motifs as you described them, were then designed with bits of insight hopefully appeal to the viewers of different ages. Intended ambiguity were also created to connect the 3 stories using a train. Ambiguity… whether you want to interpret the 3 couples in the 3 films are the same couple, it’s purely up to the audiences. In my first proposal, there were more “surreal” connections between the 3 couples… but then I didn’t make it through at the end after rounds of meeting and discussion.

    A few elements which were not designed as symbols or motifs that you interpreted them as: white tops of the young lady in the ending scene, the sheer curtain in the old couple film ~ they do not really represent bridal veil, or marriage. The vintage picture of the old couple on the bike… they were not smiling simply because we got limited choice of old pics of the actor and actress to photoshop that old pic. As for the bike, because of budget we could not have a real vintage bike but that to me it’s fine. Hope the fact doesn’t ruin your love to the films.

    I directed the 3 films plus another one a few years ago: https://vimeo.com/139802499. 杂物小姐 were directed by Mr. David Tsui of Moviola. Mr. Tsui is the guru in TV commercial making in Hong Kong since 1980s. He directed lots of Sovil et Titus films including some of the classic ones which featured Chow Yun Fat and Anita Mui.

    To end this conversation, great if I may know your name. And if you want to further the chat pls message us here: https://www.facebook.com/hellonickhongkong so to talk privately. I don’t think I should talk that much openly on my clients’ job.

    1. Hi Nick, thank you for your reply. I enjoyed it. Yes, let me contact you privately. I don’t have a facebook account as I deleted it a few years ago due to privacy and the intrusiveness of the platform. I think there was an email address I saw somewhere when you sent the first comment.

      I was watching the 3 films again and have some shots that I couldn’t really figure out. Hopefully you can help to shed some light. If the creator can’t no one can. Let me gather my thoughts together and send you an old fashioned email soon. Thanks again!

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