THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WATCH MAGAZINE EUROPE
A. LANGE & SÖHNE
A ROAD MAP FOR THE FUTURE
WATCH BUSINESS MAGAZINE | EUROPEAN EDITION | N°333 5/15 NOVEMBER | CHF12 / €10 / US$12
C RA F T I NG E T E R N I T Y S I N C E 1 755 260 years of continuous history is reflected in the Harmony Collection. A new legacy has dawned.
HARMONY CH RO N O G R A P H
Geneva official watchmaking certification
by Pierre Maillard, Editor-in-chief
hree major news items broke at around the same time, sending out contradictory signals. Starting with the good news, Vacheron Constantin announced with great pomp and ceremony the launch of its Reference 57260, presented as the most complicated watch ever made, while rival Patek Philippe laid the first stone of a new building that will extend its current manufacture, representing an investment of 500 million Swiss francs, “entirely selffinanced”. And for the bad news, Parmigiani announced that one-third of its staff would be made redundant: 30 out of 100. Officially, the culprit is “the strong franc and the slump in the Russian, Chinese and Middle-Eastern markets”. However, Jean-Marc Jacot, the now former director of Parmigiani and its watchmaking division, also points to “the difficulty of coexisting with the major groups, who are using very aggressive tactics to strangle the other brands.” More than ever before, Swiss watchmaking seems to be split along the two edges of a widening crack that threatens to become an abyss. On one rim are the major established powers; on the other the milling multitudes of wannabes and subcontractors. But wherever there is a yawning chasm, there are danger signs. As we have said before in this column, the good health of an industry, whatever it might be, is a direct consequence of the breadth of its offering. In order to ensure its long-term survival, Swiss watchmaking must be capable of producing the widest pos-
4 | EDITORIAL | europa star
sible range of products, from the simplest and most affordable to the most complex and costly (like Hollywood and the American film industry, which produces B-movies as well as masterpieces: without the B-movies, the masterpieces would not exist). Having said that, Parmigiani’s woes are also the symptom and inevitable consequence of a headlong rush forward that has touched everyone to a greater or lesser extent: a rush to upsell at any price, a wholesale and senseless stampede to make top-of-the-range ever higher, the result of which is countless drawers around the world stuffed with watches worth tens of thousands of francs (an enormous, unthinkable sum for the vast majority of inhabitants of our planet – among whom the present author humbly includes himself). Clearly, if you can afford to spend such sums, you might as well have the reassurance of going with what seems to be the most well-established, the most timeless and the most traditional. The rude health of Patek Philippe, which can afford to invest 500 million francs of its own money to “ensure its growth over the next 20 or 30 years” is the fruit of a slow and steady rise to power which is worlds away from the frenetic impa-
tience of luxury start-ups and upstarts. Similarly, the ability to produce a watch with 57 complications like Vacheron Constantin’s Reference 57260 is, as its name implies, the culmination of 260 years of patient watchmaking. In such circumstances it is difficult to compete. Know-how cannot be improvised, it is built up and passed on, and that is something that many seem to have forgotten. If the hundreds of millions invested by Patek Philippe bear witness to a healthy confidence in its future, Vacheron Constantin’s 57 complications are also an encouraging sign that should reassure all devotees of mechanical watchmaking. No, we have not heard the last of mechanical watchmaking; it still has a thousand and one things to say – things that all the smartwatches in the world lack the grace and poetry even to attempt. So, there’s hope. But is there hope for everyone? Yes, if we can bridge the chasm. p
Chris Burden,”Porsche with Meteorite,” 2013. “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” at New Museum, New York, 2013 Courtesy New Museum, New York. Photo: Benoit Pailley
Slim d’Hermès watch in rose gold, Manufacture H1950 ultra-thin movement.
SLIM D’HERMÈS, PURITY IN MOTION.
A. Lange & Söhne Ferdinand-A.-Lange-Platz 1 01768 Glashütte Germany Tel.: +49 (0) 35053 44 0 Fax: +49 (0) 35053 44 5999 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alange-soehne.com
The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily Europa Star. Europa Star subscription service CHF 100 in Europe,CHF 140 International One year, 6 issues Visit: europastar.com/subscribe Enquiries: email@example.com
6 | CONTENTS | europa star
EDITORIAL Contradictory signals
EUROPA STAR CHOICES Choosing that first watch
ALL AROUND THE WORLD Retail map
A. LANGE & SÖHNE
ALL EYES ON… 14 A. Lange & Söhne: a new Lange 1 and a road map for the future 16 RJ-Romain Jerome: beyond life and death 18 22 24 25
BUSINESS, MODELS & STRATEGIES The unorthodox Aurélie Picaud revives Fabergé’s horological lustre Louis Vuitton: operation LV Fifty Five The new life of Manufacture Royale MCT, from Sequential to Frequential
INNOVATION All rise for the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260
30 32 34 36
EUROPA STAR ARCADE Peter Speake-Marin: neo-classicist Elie Bernheim: solo virtuoso Fabien de Schaetzen: accelerating through the bends Cesare Cerrito: l’italianità
ARCADE EUROPA STAR
WOMEN’S WATCHES GALLERY 38 Piaget, Harry Winston, Chanel, Bvlgari, Hermès, Gucci, IWC, De Grisogono
RETAILERS & DISTRIBUTORS CORNER Walking in the death zone: how aggressive discounting is threatening the watch industry Gianfranco Ritschel: “The reality is that, when we open boutiques, we put retailers out of business” Hübner, a century of Haute Horlogerie in Vienna Inhorgenta 2016: a focus on watches
56 60 64
VOICES FROM CHINA Watches & Wonders 2015: a mini-SIHH for Greater Asia How luxury brands can ensure visibility & reach in China 34th Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair: not too bad, or not too good?
ANALYSIS Spectacular Displays
70 TO READ… LAKIN@LARGE 74 Surveying Surveys 51
SPOTLIGHT Casio: G-SHOCK MTG – G1000
LANGE 1 Ref. 191.032. Case: Pink gold. Dial: Solid silver, argenté. Lange manufacture calibre L121.1; manually wound, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; plates and bridges made of untreated German silver; balance cock engraved by hand. Movement parts: 368. Power reserve: 72 hours when fully wound. Functions: time indicated in hours, minutes and subsidiary seconds with stop seconds; power-reserve indicator; jumping outsize date.
THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WATCH MAGAZINE
www.worldwatchreport.com / www.digital-luxury.com
Escale Time Zone.
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And the winner is…
1879 In the 19th century most towns had their own time. In 1879, Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming proposed a revolutionary idea to divide the world into 24 time zones, which was applied five years later, setting the Greenwich Meridian as universal time.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève is the equivalent of the Oscars for the watchmaking industry. This year, Greubel Forsey won the coveted “Aiguille d’Or”. The event contributes to spreading the reputation of this art form and its values of excellence and creativity around the world.
Face Just in case selfies were not self-indulgent enough, Apple’s next generation WatchOS 2 will give wearers the ability to set their own personal pictures as a wristwatch face on the Apple Watch. (Tribune Reporter) 8 | SIGNALS | europa star
Patek Philippe bleeds blue, as the company has many regal clients. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly prefers to open Parliament wearing a wristwatch on a bracelet of pearls made by the famous Swiss brand. (Forbes)
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65 Named after the world’s toughest racetrack, the Nordschleife 20832 Super Plus watch has just been introduced, reportedly as the world’s biggest. With a face that measures 65mm in diameter, the new watch is exactly the same size as a tennis ball! (GTSpirit.com)
Holy Grail The 1987 Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 – one of just two examples ever made in platinum – is commonly regarded as the Holy Grail for Patek Philippe watch collectors. One remains in the company museum, while the other was previously owned by Eric Clapton. It was sold to a collector in 2012 for a record $3,635,808 (News-antique.com)
70 Roger W. Smith is set to announce his first range of watches after decades of work.“It is almost ten years since I produced my first Series 2 wristwatch and, since then, we have produced just 70 pieces.” The small company is the only maker of entirely British watches and movements in existence today. (RWSmithwatches)
EUROPA STAR CHOICES
FIRST WATCH Your son is celebrating an important birthday, or maybe he has graduated, won a sports competition, got his first job, or is about to be married. In any case, you want to give him his first ‘proper’ watch. Which watch should you choose? Or, if you’re a retailer, which should you suggest? My first question would be: what is his style, what’s his image?
B NOSTALGIC DANDY – If he is nostalgic for the Roaring Twenties, models himself after Jay Gatsby, wears linen suits and listens to big band jazz, then have a look at the Manufacture Pocket Watch by Frédérique Constant. Manually wound, naturally. CHF 2,995 plus VAT in steel, CHF 3,395 gold-plated.
C STAR WARS FAN – If, like Marko Petrovic, who designed this watch for the Star Wars/Devon joint venture, he has watched Star Wars countless times, you can’t go wrong with this model. It combines ‘special effects’ (gears are replaced by Time Belts) with the aura of a galaxy far, far away. Only 500 will be made, and you will need deep pockets: USD 28,500.
D POST-APOCALYPTIC – If he likes to warn people of the dangers of nuclear power, with this watch on his wrist he will certainly not lack for topics of conversation. Don’t ask how you tell the time, he’ll work it out for himself. This striking combination of wood and flashing LEDs comes from Tokyoflash. The Kisai Radioactive Wood LED watch, which can be recharged via a USB port, is available direct from http://www.tokyoflash.com, priced at USD 149. E CLASSIC ELEGANCE – He appreciates classic elegance, readability, purity and precision – this regulator-type display ticks all of those boxes – his tastes are ultra-conservative, he likes to dress up in black tie and adores the opera. The Excellence Regulator Power Reserve by Louis Erard is made for him. And it offers surprisingly good value for money: CHF 2,795 plus VAT.
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T HREE T IME ZONES AT A GL A NCE
PATRAVI TRAVELTEC II The Patravi TravelTec II is the newest member of the Patravi TravelTec family. It distinguishes itself by its superb elegance and technical sophistication. The 47.4 mm case is clearly defined, expressive, and presents a worldwide exclusive: a triple time-zone display contained within a single chronograph. A narrow window in sapphire crystal provides a comfortable, lateral view of this patented masterpiece. So home is always just a glance at your wrist away. Wherever you may be. BOUND TO TRADITION â€“ DRIVEN BY INNOVATION
ALL AROUND THE WORLD
is a new Europa Star regular column which will present the openings – or closures – of watch boutiques and stores thoughout the world. We encourage all our professional readers and retailers to send us news about their retail activities. firstname.lastname@example.org
GENEVA Reopening of the RICHARD MILLE boutique situated in the Grand Hotel Kempinski, Quai du Mont-Blanc, Geneva. With 88 sqm added, it is now “a real haute horlogerie gallery”.
ZURICH TIMEBOX concept store opens at Check-in 2, Zurich Airport. Timebox offers a wide selection of fashionable watches and jewellery – high-quality yet affordable, with brands such as Mondaine, Wenger, Jowissa and Luminox.
LOS ANGELES A. LANGE & SÖHNE opens its first mono-brand boutique in California at South Coast Plaza in Orange County (LA), which has the highest sales volume of any shopping centre in the country.
TIFFANY & CO. has just opened its new boutique in the heart of Geneva, the third in Switzerland. This flagship store is the first in the world to offer a salon exclusively dedicated to the new CT60 watch collection.
SWATCH has recenttly inaugurated its biggest boutique in Interlaken, one of the most important hubs of tourism in Switzerland. “In Interlaken, up to 1000 Swatches are sold per day,” affirms Nick Hayek. The Swiss domestic market represents 5% to 8% of the total sales of the Swatch Group.
LAUSANNE CARTIER has closed its Lausanne boutique, indicating to its clients that “they will have the honour to receive them in the Geneva Cartier boutique, 35 rue du Rhône, which, after renovation, has been extended from 170sqm to almost 1000sqm.”
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PILO & CO opens its second boutique in Geneva, situated in the historic Saint-Gervais district, one of the cradles of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Pilo & Co also owns twelve boutiques in China, two in Italy and a further three in Switzerland.
HONG KONG LONDON BELL & ROSS opens its first boutique in the famous and very select London’s Burlington Arcade in Mayfair. Three storeys decorated “as a private aeronautical club.”
H. MOSER & CIE makes its debut in the Harrods Fine Watches arcade. “A true recognition,” claims the brand from Schaffhausen, Switzerland, presenting for the occasion a special “Funky Blue” edition of its Endeavour Perpetual Calendar.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN opens a new flagship in Dubai Mall. “This sprawling luxury shopping centre boasts an array of branded watch boutiques, allowing collectors to hit nearly every corner of the haute horlogerie world in just one location.” TAG HEUER intends to close its Russell Street boutique, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. “I don’t know when it will happen, this year or next year,” explains CEO Jean-Claude Biver, “but we will close for sure because of the high costs of rent and the fall in attendance.” After Geneva and Taiwan, MB&F opens its third M.A.D. Gallery (“a captivating universe of kinetic art where Horological Machines and Mechanical Art Devices reign supreme”) in the Dubai arts district known as Alserkal Avenue.
WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND opens its third store this year in Oxford Street, London, after Canary Wharf and Heathrow Terminal 5. Its 650 sqm will embrace a multilingual 98 inch interactive digital touch screen, showcasing Watches of Switzerland’s award-winning ‘Timewheel’ and ‘VIP Lounge’, which Watches of Switzerland says is designed to appeal to the “international traveller and watch connoisseur.”
Hong Kong-listed CHOW TAI FOOK JEWELLERY GROUP plans to close two stores in Hong Kong as a result of poor sales and a huge 20%–30% fall in the number of customers. In the first quarter of 2015, Prada had 33 stores in China (versus 49 in 2014), Armani dropped from 49 to 44, and Chanel went from 22 to 11.
CHRISTOPHE CLARET opens its first Dubai boutique in collaboration with Ahmed Seddiqui & Sons. After Asia, the Americas and Europe this joint venture with the first distributor of fine Swiss watches in the Emirates marks an important step in the international expansion of the brand.
OFFICINE PANERAI has reopened and enlarged its Hong Kong boutique in Canton Road. Situated in Tsim Sha Tsui, at the heart of the main luxury shopping district, the Officine Panerai boutique which opened in 2010 has now been expanded to an area of 367 square metres, making it the Florentine brand’s largest store in the world.
| ALL AROUND THE WORLD | 13
ALL EYES ON…
A NEW LANGE 1 AND A ROAD MAP FOR THE FUTURE This year marked both a major retrospective and a great leap forward for A. Lange & Söhne, with the double celebration of its founder’s twohundredth birthday and the opening of a new manufacture in Glashütte. It was also time to infuse new life into the brand icon, the Lange 1. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
espite her overflowing diary and the demands of the migrant crisis, Angela Merkel found time to attend the sumptuous inauguration ceremony for the new manufacture of Glashütte’s most emblematic brand, A. Lange & Söhne, on 26 August. Two hundred years after the birth of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the firm has established itself as the flagship of an entire region, as the Chancellor was keen to point out: “Success stories like yours are the result of the excellent reputation of East Germany, a reputation that endures today, with innovative, flexible and modern centres.” With a surface area of 5,400 m2, the new building, which has many ecological features, “gives us flexibility above all: we can grow, provided we continue to respect our quality demands,” as CEO Wilhelm Schmid explained. He prudently points out that it takes three to five years to put young watchmakers and finishers through their demanding training. “Last August, we signed and celebrated our new watchmakers’ training contracts,” Wilhelm Schmid continues. “If in thirty years’ time they are all still as happy with their work and as enthusiastic about our brand, we will have succeeded in our aims. That’s what drives me today: ensuring that our manufacture continues to thrive in the decades to come.”
14 | ALL EYES ON… | europa star
THE NEW HEART OF THE LANGE 1 There is nevertheless one certainty: the Glashütte brand, which introduced four new models at the last Watches & Wonders fair (see page 54), will continue to develop strictly within its five product families: 1815, Saxonia, Richard Lange, Zeitwerk and Lange 1. “They cover a very broad spectrum, from pocket watches to highly contemporary timepieces. We don’t intend to create another new family.” Of course, that does not rule out innovation. “The minute repeater is a very traditional complication. But our Zeitwerk Minute Repeater model, for example, is incredibly contemporary without deviating from our values.” Another certainty, if we look more closely into the collections, is that the Lange 1 has remained the ‘face’ or DNA of the manufacture ever since its renaissance in 1994. With its fusion of innovative design, outstanding functionality and immaculate craftsmanship, this collection has become what might be called a Magna Carta for the manufacture’s self-perception (a ‘pillar’ role that is easily understandable – you just have to look at the watch’s name…). This year, however, marks a change for the emblematic collection, which now includes 15 different models, with a new edition that has been endowed with a technically evolved, manually wound calibre.
LANGE 1 TIMEZONE
The reference L121.1, the manufacture calibre that equips the new version of this Haute Horlogerie classic, is in fact the 50th in the brand’s portfolio of in-house movements. What new features does it offer? Well, quite a few… First, its precisely jumping outsize date, whose display switches at midnight. The force needed to perform this action is slowly built up over a period of several hours. Additionally, the escapement of the Lange 1 has a balance wheel with eccentric poising weights and a free-sprung hairspring crafted in-house. Beneath the handengraved balance cock, it still beats with a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour. The reliable twin mainspring barrel with a power reserve of 72 hours was also retained. As far as the watch’s external appearance is concerned, the model’s characteristic asymmetric dial with its outsize date display and prominently positioned power reserve indicator remained practically untouched. A slightly narrower bezel is the only visible hint of a modification. It adds openness to the face of the watch, despite its unchanged diameter of 38.5 millimetres. The Lange 1 is available in the classic case-dial pairings of yellow gold/champagne, pink gold/argenté and platinum/rhodié.
GRAND LANGE 1 MOON PHASE
TARGETING UNCOMPROMISING COLLECTORS Beyond the very attractive features of this new interpretation of the iconic collection, if Wilhelm Schmid appears confident about the coming decades, it is also largely because of his unique clientele, which is made up exclusively of collectors. “I consider us to have a single market: collectors. Where they live is not the most important factor. In our globalised world, I always ask myself, when a Chinese person buys one of our watches in Lucerne, does this concern the Swiss market or the Chinese market? Our strength lies in the fact that we are never dependent on a particular market. We don’t design products for a specific culture or taste. We are our own benchmark!” Under Wilhelm Schmid’s guidance, the brand has even reduced its points of sale somewhat. “I want to be with the best, not with the most.” Today, the only region where the brand does not have a presence is sub-Saharan Africa. “Perhaps in ten years Africa will become an important market, and we will need to be represented. I’m not ruling it out. But that’s all in the future.” p
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ALL EYES ON…
BEYOND LIFE AND DEATH The fearless independent Swiss brand pays tribute to the Mexican Day of the Dead, as a way of reframing the codes of Haute Horlogerie. The evocative power and stylistic accomplishment of the Día de los Muertos collection will enchant watch connoisseurs and aesthetes alike. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
here is no doubt that RJ-Romain Jerome is reinventing the codes of Haute Horlogerie, under the direct influence of its CEO, Manuel Emch, who is also its artistic director and an art lover. The Día de los Muertos collection is a prime example. Inspired by the Day of the Dead, a festival celebrated in Mexico every year on the 1st and 2nd November, the watchmaking house has recruited tattoo artist Xam to decorate its watches with sugar skulls, an interpretation of the ‘calaveras’ in sugar paste that Mexicans give as gifts during the festivities. The result is the colourful floral motif that has defined the identity of the Día de los Muertos collection since the first models were launched in 2012. In Mexico, as is the case in many countries around the world, death is celebrated with humour and irony, and the deceased’s passage into the afterlife is eased with song and dance. It’s a fertile source of inspiration for any timepiece designer, but RJ-Romain Jerome brings its own particular aesthetic and unique viewpoint, giving the theme a global resonance. The timepieces in the four Día de los Muertos collections, three of which are in limited editions of 25 pieces, with the fourth limited to 99, steer clear of cultural stereotypes, instead playing deftly with the intrinsic irony of the skull, which strikes a chord in everyone, regardless of cultural origin. On the facing page, from left to right and from top to bottom: DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS*, DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS DIAMANTE, DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS RESUCITADO ORO ROJO*, DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS CLÁSICO*
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A SENSE OF CONTRAST RJ-Romain Jerome is an unchallenged master at seamlessly integrating the memes of popular culture into the technical and ultra-precise world of Haute Horlogerie – a risky endeavour that the company has already brilliantly executed in models such as the Batman-DNA, Space Invaders and the entire Steampunk line. Here too, this joyful reinterpretation of the vanities is imbued with a rare aesthetic power, the result of the felicitous contrast between the skull and its background, enhanced by an astonishing sense of detail. The finish of the black PVD-coated steel case and bezel claws recreate the brand’s emblematic X, which can be seen on all of RJ-Romain Jerome’s timepieces. The hour and minute hands are satin-brushed and tipped with ‘blue emission’ superluminova. The black Hornback alligator strap also plays its part in reinforcing the contrast between the watch’s darker and more mysterious elements and its vibrant skull applique. Whether set with diamonds, spinels or sapphires, like the lost light of extinguished lives (Día de los Muertos Diamante series), minimalist and high-contrast, promising a new life (Día de los Muertos Resucitado), or peppered with multiple ‘calaveras’ reminding us of the ephemeral nature of life (Día de los Muertos Clásico), the watch continues to reward us each year with another striking reinterpretation of the memento mori. The automatic heart of these models, strictly Swiss made and assembled in the company premises in Geneva, does not disappoint, its robust efficiency stopping just short of hinting at immortality. The latest series, the Día de los Muertos Clásico, offers a slightly smaller case size of 43 mm, compared with its predecessors’ 46 mm. Apart from their size, the three models in the collection share a bezel and dial engraved with ‘calaveras’ and other motifs reminiscent of the festival. The retail price of the collection ranges from CHF 14,950 to CHF 39,950. The skull has become an icon of popular culture – one only has to look at Damian Hirst’s platinum skull set with 8,601 diamonds, Alexander McQueen’s fascination with the motif, or Scott Campbell’s skull sculpture made up of 11,000 dollar bills. We now have to factor in RJ-Romain Jerome’s contribution; the partnership between Manuel Emch’s team and tattoo artist Xam has cemented the place of the now iconic watches in popular culture, and promises many more fascinating explorations of this (paradoxically) deathless theme in the future. p *RJ-Romain Jerome’s Día de los Muertos collection in collaboration with tattoo artist Xam, author of the Sugar Skull.
BUSINESS, MODELS & STRATEGIES
THE UNORTHODOX AURÉLIE PICAUD
On 1 November 2013, 35-year-old Aurélie Picaud was appointed head of Fabergé watches. Her brief was to resuscitate the watchmaking branch of the celebrated Russian jeweller. Scarcely a year and a half later, at Baselworld 2015, a rumour spread through the aisles: go and have a look at Fabergé, some amazing things are happening! This is the story of an incredible journey. by Pierre Maillard, Europa Star
he petite, young and charming Aurélie Picaud has masterminded a vast watchmaking operation efficiently, virtually single-handed, and in record time. She has overseen nothing less than the rebirth of a watchmaking operation worthy of the distinguished name of Fabergé. It all started with LinkedIn. While product manager of ladies’ watches and Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet, she was invited for an interview with Sean Gilbertson, Fabergé’s CEO
WHO OWNS FABERGÉ? Since 2013 Fabergé has belonged to Gemfields, a mining group that is the world leader in responsible sourcing of coloured gemstones, mainly emeralds and amethysts from Zambia and rubies from Mozambique. It bought Fabergé from the mining investment company Pallinghurst Resources, which valued the jeweller at 142 million dollars. Pallinghurst Resources, whose chairman is Brian Gilbertson of South Africa, retains a stake of 49.3%. His son Sean Gilbertson is now CEO of Fabergé, after taking over from restructuring specialist Robert Benvenuto, who left in June 2015. “His departure has not affected Gemfields’ commitment – obsession, even – with Fabergé,” confirms Aurélie Picaud. “The owners came to Baselworld this year and they were really quite flabbergasted. They discovered a world they knew nothing about, and in which they are determined to become major players.” They have certainly made a convincing start.
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(see sidebar). The interview was fascinating, but the actual job on offer was not particularly well defined. And also, they thought she was probably a bit young. But Aurélie Picaud was hooked; ideas started bubbling to the surface and she persisted. After making a convincing case she was eventually offered a contract, and an incredible journey began.
FOUR LINES, FOUR TEAMS Splitting her time between London and Geneva, Aurélie Picaud began to formulate her plan. She delved into the rich and somewhat madcap history of the wildly inventive and versatile Russian jeweller known all over the world for its imperial eggs. She decided to launch four strong lines in parallel: a women’s complication, a ‘conversation piece’ for men, a jewellery watch and a classic collection of seven models. Her superiors wanted fast results. But how was she to achieve this, from a standing start? She devised an original, decentralised strategy: for each line she went in search of a different team, chosen from among the best in the country, who would master every stage of each individual project. For the ladies’ complication her thoughts immediately turned to Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The poetic and creative boss of Agenhor (Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston Opus, etc.), an expert in retrograde animations, was the obvious choice to create a foundation piece unlike any other. But Aurélie did not want just any old module, she had her heart set on a movement designed exclusively for Fabergé. Jean-Marc Wiederrecht declined. But she continued to press, and was finally granted an audience with the master watchmaker. She explained her idea: she wanted to draw inspiration from two famous Imperial Eggs – the Peacock Egg and the Winter Egg. She wanted mystery and surprise, but they also needed a story. By the end of the meeting the watchmaker was more than convinced; he was enthusiastic. And he even had an idea; it had been suggested to him by journalist Louis Nardin on his return from a lengthy trip to Asia. Mr Nardin had come up with the idea of a fan that could be turned into a beautiful watchmaking complication. u
It’s time for everyday extraordinary. TISSOT CHEMIN DES TOURELLES AUTOMATIC. A VERY SPECIAL PIECE THAT TAKES ITS NAME FROM TISSOT’S HOME ADDRESS IN LE LOCLE, THE CRADLE OF THE WATCH INDUSTRY IN SWITZERLAND. IT HAS A POWERMATIC 80 MOVEMENT WITH UP TO 80 HOURS OF POWER RESERVE, A DOMED SCRATCH-RESISTANT SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL AND A SEETHROUGH CASEBACK.
ZU R I CH — PAR I S — LO N D O N — N E W YO R K — B EIJ I N G — H O N G KO N G — SI N GAP O R E — N E W D ELH I — D U BAI — M O S COW
TI S S OT WATC H E S .CO M
VISIONNAIRE I – The face of the Visionnaire I conceals as much as it reveals under a sublime dial cut into seven curved trapeziums, like an open egg shell. The design recalls Fabergé’s speciality and reveals its mechanical heart, the handwound calibre TOF14 flying tourbillon movement.
LADY COMPLIQUÉE PEACOCK 38 MM – The peacock’s golden, bejewelled tail gradually opens to indicate the minutes shown on a mother-of-pearl scale that slowly progresses around the dial, while another mother-of-pearl ring indicates the hours read off against the crown wheel.
While the Lady Compliquée Peacock and Winter Time were incubating, Aurélie Picaud met an entirely different team to start the ball rolling for the men’s ‘conversation piece’. Here too she banked on excellence, by entrusting the project to Giulio Papi of Renaud Papi, the complications arm of Audemars Piguet. She wanted a flying tourbillon, but insisted that the manufacture of the timepiece be driven by the design, which should be dynamic with a hint of mystery, not giving everything away all at once. The Visionnaire I was on its way. A different watch, a different team: Dick Steenman, a master engraver specialising in fine jewellery, was given the task of producing a high-end piece entitled Summer in Provence, which pays tribute to the unbridled baroque inventiveness of Peter Carl Fabergé. Finally, for her core collection, Aurélie Picaud went to talk to Vaucher Manufacture. The result was the Lady Fabergé, an understated, elegant and sleek automatic in 18- or 22-karat gold. The course was set. This young woman, travelling back and forth between London and Switzerland, personally coordinated all the different divisions and métiers involved. Wisely choosing not to put all her eggs in one basket, she entrusted the cases for each watch to different producers.
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THE WORD SPREADS Baselworld 2015: all the timepieces were ready and the buzz was everything she could have hoped for. A particular tone and style were evident from the outset. “I want to move towards the objet d’art,” says Aurélie Picaud. “I want to break certain codes, I want our watches to be mischievous. I want to blend innovative techniques with a unique appearance that is not afraid of extravagance or the baroque, that perhaps veers towards the kitsch on occasion, but nevertheless remains the height of refinement.” When a comparison is drawn with Van Cleef & Arpels, she is quick to counter: “Our timepieces are far less figurative, more abstract, more crazy at times, and that is how they will remain. We play around with combinations of techniques, materials and colours: engraving, guilloché, gem-setting, gold, platinum, titanium, tourmaline, enamel, flowers sculpted in mother-of-pearl.” Many retailers present in Basel were keen to take a look. In addition to Fabergé’s own boutiques (in Geneva, New York and Harrods in London), some thirty wholesale partners will be selling its watches beginning this autumn, in the Middle East, Germany and the USA. At the end of September the company opened a workshop in Geneva, “in order to control the entire supply chain, assembly and after-sales service, which will be brought on board gradually.” Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be quite a ride! Bravo, Mademoiselle Picaud. p
Turn passion into perfection SPACE STAR
TITONI LTD. Sch端tzengasse 18 | 2540 Grenchen | Switzerland | Phone +41 32 654 57 00
BUSINESS, MODELS & STRATEGIES
OPERATION LV FIFTY FIVE This name in numbers heralds a new departure for Louis Vuitton, which is launching a more affordable everyday alternative to the polarising Tambour. Could it be the shape of things to come? by Pierre Maillard, Europa Star
ouis Vuitton’s first watch collection dates back to 2002, when the famous Tambour was launched. Its signature drum shape helped the brand to define and promote a highly individual watchmaking aesthetic. But this unique shape, although it effectively ‘beat the drum’ and created a recognisable watchmaking identity for Louis Vuitton, nevertheless had a polarising effect: people either liked it or they didn’t. But this did not stop the Tambour, in its successive iterations (GMT, chronograph, tourbillon, Spin Time and minute repeater), from achieving success and recognition.
LV FIFTY FIVE 31 MM – Quartz ETA 256.031, hours, minutes and seconds, lacquered silvered dial, sunburst and circular-brushed satin finish. Water-resistant to 50 metres, comes in a steel case with engraved back, fitted with a monogrammed folding clasp.
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Indeed, it was so successful that Hamdi Chatti felt fully justified in turning the design unceremoniously on its head. The mere fact of being inverted created something that was spectacularly different, and the Tambour has now truly earned its place in the international watchmaking pantheon. It is sold in some 200 points of sale in the mother house’s network of 465 boutiques around the globe. Nevertheless, in order to overcome the aesthetic objections, Louis Vuitton owed it to itself both tactically and strategically to develop a new collection: a more accessible, more affordable watch – “very recognisable but wearable. Something you can wear every day,” in the words of Hamdi Chatti.
TWIN FOCUS Since his appointment in 2010 as head of Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking division, Hamdi Chatti has focused on two obsessions: making his company a legitimate force in watchmaking circles, and expanding – and thereby diversifying – its range. As far as the former is concerned, it’s a done deal, with the purchase and integration of La Fabrique du Temps, the horological laboratory directed by partners in crime Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, which has given its name to the new manufacture. They are the driving force behind the highly inventive and often whimsical complications that have graced the Tambour, including their showstopping timepiece, the kaleidoscopic, ingenious and much talked-about Escale Worldtime. The acquisition of La Fabrique du Temps, a low-key but finelytuned horological engine, which since autumn 2014 has brought together all the company’s in-house métiers (one hundred or so engineers, watchmakers, dial-makers etc.), has enabled Louis Vuitton to move ahead with the launch of a new watch line intended to become a long-term collection. This series is aimed at a younger clientele and will no doubt be less controversial. Launched initially in stainless steel, at a retail price of between CHF 3,500 and 4,500, the intention is to move gradually into gold, with gem-set models to be brought out subsequently. “But we’ll take our time,” asserts Hamdi Chatti. “As we are our own retailer we are not under any pressure. And with our day-to-day retail experience on an international scale, we can afford to take things easy.”
ROUND, LIGHT AND COMFORTABLE So this is the LV Fifty Five. Why this figure? Classical scholars – there must be a few left – will already have worked it out. LV is the Roman numeral for fifty-five. Brain teaser aside, the LV Fifty Five fulfils perfectly the brief given to the in-house designers: the watch is round, light, highly wearable and extremely comfortable. It is an everyday watch – you almost forget you’re wearing it – but nevertheless instantly recognisable. Beautifully proportioned and elegant, but far from bland. Its design was inspired from the archives of the mother house. The aluminium clasps of a 1920s trunk conveniently provided both an example and a historical reference. The backstory finds its horological expression in the two metal plates riveted onto the case, engraved with the legend ‘Louis Vuitton’. “It’s a reinterpretation of the lock plates that have secured Louis Vuitton trunks since 1890,” we are told. Mounted on either an astonishingly supple leather strap, or a metal bracelet also inspired by the famous trunk (which proves to be equally flexible and light on the wrist), the LV Fifty Five is both understated and refined. The attention to detail is par-
LV FIFTY FIVE 41 MM – GMT automatic ETA 2893, date, hours, minutes and seconds, lacquered anthracite dial, sunburst and circular-brushed satin finish. Water-resistant to 50 metres, comes in a steel case with engraved back, fitted with a monogrammed folding clasp.
ticularly noticeable on its silvered or anthracite dial with its two concentric convex sections, relief hour markers and hands in a stunning emerald green, which Louis Vuitton is proud to produce entirely in-house. How will this more accessible and affordable timepiece be received by the brand’s loyal followers, coming as it does after the more strident Tambour? Its launch is imminent. “No hype, no hard sell.” Louis Vuitton will gradually introduce the LV Fifty Five to the market, beginning, by the looks of things, in Japan, before expanding to other shores in 2016. Nevertheless, as the LV Fifty Five starts to make its way in the world and find its own path, the Drum will assuredly continue to beat. And judging by the satisfied expressions of Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas who, back at their benches, are busy concocting more in-house complications, the Louis Vuitton watchmaking division has a few more surprises up its sleeve. p
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BUSINESS, MODELS & STRATEGIES
THE NEW LIFE OF Founded by Voltaire in the 18th century and brought back to life by the owner of TEC Ebauches, the brand has been in the hands of the G(o)uten family for the last two years. The three cousins Alexis, David and Marc tell us about their plans. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
In 2013 we bought a brand that was losing money. One year later, it was profitable.” Backed up by his cousins David and Marc, Alexis Gouten is making a bold gamble. His wager is that they will succeed in turning around Manufacture Royale, the storied Vallorbe-based watchmaking company founded by Voltaire. It was revived in 2010 by
Arnaud Faivre, director of the component supplier TEC Ebauches, before being taken over by the GTN holding company belonging to the Gouten family, who have considerable commercial experience in the watchmaking industry, and were able to bring their significant abilities and contacts to the project. Around 150 watches left the Manufacture Royale workshops last year. “We work in a particular way. As we have always been supported by TEC Ebauches, we have great flexibility and reaction time,” notes David Gouten. “If we need movements to work on in two weeks, their machines can do it. We operate like a temporary manufacture!” The three cousins hope eventually to achieve an annual produc1770 VOLTIGE – Reference: Anthracite dial, 1770VT45.01.A. Calibre: MR05. Type: In-house Mechanical, self-winding. Dimensions: Diameter 36 mm / Height: 9.45 mm. Power reserve: 40 hours. Frequency: 3 Hz, 21,600 vph. Balance spring: Flat Balance. Case Material: Stainless steel. Case dimensions: Diameter: 45 mm .
tion of 400 to 500 watches. How do they intend to accomplish this? “First, we have to build the brand. It needs a pyramid of products, and above all it needs an identity, marketing and communication,” explains Marc Guten. “A lot of work needs to be put in upstream, The G(o)uten family work that you don’t see; it takes time to build a solid brand. We’re in it for the long term.” The main challenge is to establish efficient distribution partnerships in Switzerland and internationally. “Today it is difficult to find really competent people,” notes Alexis Gouten. “Many of them stick to selling well-known brands. They wouldn’t really be capable of explaining a brand like ours, nor would they be interested.” His cousin David continues: “Nevertheless, there is a new generation of clients from the emerging countries who are looking for brands like ours. Twenty years ago, it was all about bling-bling. A few diamonds and a well-known brand were all you needed to make a sale. Today, the children of these old clients are between 25 and 40 years old; they prefer to wear clothes by an unknown fashion designer; they want to be different. They don’t want to wear the same watch as their father. This is the opportunity we have today, us and other brands that share our vision, such as Romain Jerome, Urwerk and Hautlence.”
UNDERCUTTING THE COMPETITION But Manufacture Royale, whose primary markets are in Asia and the Middle East, is not without some advantages that give it an edge in the image battle: its Androgyne, for example, a tourbillon at CHF 43,000 francs, with a 108-hour power reserve, offers surprising value for money. “This model is our best-seller. It is, however, rather unconventional and somewhat polarising, so we also created the 1770 collection with a more traditional display, which has greatly reassured our retailers.” At this year’s Baselworld the brand also launched a double flying tourbillon, the 1770 MicroMegas, with a starting price of CHF 125,000. “That’s half what the competition charges... They sometimes ask us how we manage it, but I should be asking them why they are twice as expensive as us!” The latest model is the Voltige, also in the 1770 series, whose distinguishing feature is the location of the escapement which, as its name suggests, hovers above the dial. This completes the more accessible end of the range, with a price point of CHF 27,000 and an automatic movement. p
FROM SEQUENTIAL TO FREQUENTIAL MCT changed hands just a few years after its launch, but its buyer, who has now been at the helm for four years, has shown evidence of some joined-up thinking. MCT is forging ahead and adapting, while remaining true to its founding spirit. by Pierre Maillard, Europa Star
CT (which stands for Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps) was founded by Denis Giguet in 2007 – frankly not the best year, on the eve of the financial crisis, to launch a new, independent, innovative, complex and expensive watch brand. It could easily have foundered when its creator jumped ship in 2011. But then, happily, a purchaser, Cage Holding SA, came on the scene. This company, according to its own PR, is the “consolidation of a group of Russian, Belarusian and Swiss companies involved in banking, finance, brokerage, manufacturing, retail and real estate in several countries of Europe and Asia.” The purchase of MCT was Cage Holding’s first venture into watchmaking, one it saw as a “long-term investment” that would give it a unique opportunity to expand its activities in Switzerland. More than three years after the purchase, Cage Holding seems to be keeping its promises. MCT, currently chaired by KristinaRipsimé Ambartsumian and managed by François Candolfi, has not only continued on the radical path set by its creator, by developing new products in complete coherence with the company’s founding spirit, but it has also visibly committed to integrating its creative and manufacturing capabilities. MCT’s operational division, based in Neuchâtel, now includes several units: STM is responsible for developing MCT’s in-house calibres; Digitale performs assembly, acts as a high-quality laboratory and develops complications (including for third parties); and MCH, which was bought in 2013, mainly does assembly work for other watch groups. Although, for the time being, components are made in cooperation with other companies in the Jurassic Arc, an integration programme has been developed with a view to eventually achieving complete control over the production chain.
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One year later, in 2014, the first breakaway model appeared: the Sequential Two (S200). The watch retains the iconic hour modules, but the shape is radically different. Now round, it has a single hand for the minutes, mounted on a central C-shaped disc that pivots 90° every hour. But because the minutes take a more traditional 360° trajectory around the dial, the S200 is easier and more intuitive to read. Its movement, developed in-house, was entirely redesigned and modified to become self-winding thanks to a micro-rotor.
SAYING GOODBYE TO THE PRISMS
FREQUENTIAL ONE - F110 – MCT-F1.0 mechanical manual hand-winding movement, developed and assembled by MCT. Ø 33.30 x 33.30mm, H 10.00 mm. 279 components. Double barrels and central upper balance. Bridges hand-chamfered and adorned with Côtes de Genève. Traditional Breguet terminal curve. Frequency 18,000 A/h (2.5Hz). Power reserve. Case: 42.00 x 42.00mm.
SEQUENTIAL ONE AND TWO The Sequential One (or S100), released in 2008, caused a stir for both its refined and sensuous cushion shape (by designer Eric Giroud) and its radically different way of digitally telling the time. The hour is displayed on four modules, each comprising five pivoting triangular prisms. The minutes are indicated by a central C-shaped 270° disc that turns 90° to the left at the top of each hour, revealing the hour on the next module. Although the mechanism is difficult to describe, once on the wrist telling the time proves surprisingly easy, although somewhat counterintuitive. This manually-wound watch with its 471-piece movement and its special system for accumulating the energy required to rotate the minutes disc and prisms, immediately earned MCT a place in the group of ‘new watchmakers’ looking for unusual ways of telling the time, alongside MB&F, Urwerk, Hautlence and Cabestan. The new team brought on board in 2013 put their initial efforts into perfecting this pioneering product and improving its reliability, before branching out into different materials and giving the watch a more ‘urban’ design makeover.
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The next step, which will no doubt prove decisive for the brand’s growth potential and its ability to extend its range, was to say goodbye to the prism-based hour indicators, which had become MCT’s signature. This was not an easy move for the brand, as it had to nevertheless remain “totally MCT”. This crucial task was entrusted to the Frequential One (F110). Why ‘Frequential’? Simply because this watch gives centre stage, both literally and figuratively, to its balance wheel. [After MB&F’s Legacy Machine, and Manufacture Royale with its 1770 Voltige, this focus on the balance wheel is becoming something of a steampunk trend.] Placed regally in the centre of the dial, it beats at a stately 18,000 vph. The balance wheel becomes the primary focus, the central star around which the hours and minutes orbit, indicated by two hands that appear to float above the dial. Yes, two hands: a first for MCT. The challenge is a mechanical one, because in order to place the escapement in the centre, the drive train has to fit beneath the movement. The hands are held inside barrels, guided along by ball-bearings and mounted on ruby spindles. The hand-wound movement that drives it was entirely developed and assembled in MCT’s Neuchâtel workshop. What makes the Frequential One still unmistakeably ‘MCT’ is probably its return to the cushion-shaped case, this time slightly reduced in size and softened, paired with the sombre aesthetic that defines the brand’s DNA. The first Frequential will be the foundation of an entire line, with a central tourbillon due to make its appearance in 2016. Nevertheless, the characteristic prism display will not vanish forever from MCT’s range. Quite the opposite. The aim is to anchor it even more firmly, by adding ‘classical’ complications; a minute repeater, large date, perpetual calendar and column wheel chronograph are all part of the brand’s long-term vision. The brand currently has a presence throughout Asia, in India and Russia, but partnerships are “difficult”, we are told. Available in Switzerland in the Kirchhofer and Les Ambassadeurs stores, MCT is launching into the USA and developing exclusive collections in partnership with its retailers there. p
Modern times, eternal elegance.
Ernest Borel S.A. +41 32 926 17 26 / email@example.com www.ernestborel.ch
ALL RISE FOR THE VACHERON CONSTANTIN
MOON PHASES AND AGE • INDICATION FOR SILENCE / STRIKING / NIGHT MODES •
• HOURS • ALARM WITH ITS OWN GONG AND GRADUAL STRIKING
INDICATION FOR GRANDE OR PETITE SONNERIE MODES • MINUTES COUNTER (CHRONOGRAPH) •
• MINUTES • ALARM POWER-RESERVE INDICATION AND TORQUE • CHOICE OF NORMAL ALARM OR CARILLON ALARM INDICATOR
POWER-RESERVE INDICATION FOR THE STRIKING TRAIN •
• GOLDEN NUMBER
YEAR WITH 12 OR 13 MONTHS •
• HOURS COUNTER (ONE COLUMN WHEEL)
DAYS • RETROGRADE SPLIT-SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH (ONE COLUMN WHEEL) •
• MOVEMENT POWER RESERVE INDICATOR • MONTH
DATE • RETROGRADE DATE OF YOM KIPPUR •
• RETROGRADE SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH (ONE COLUMN WHEEL)
CENTURY, DECADE AND YEAR •
ALARM & WESTMINSTER CARILLON | HEBREW PERPETUAL CALENDAR | CHRONOGRAPH
For eight years, three of Vacheron Constantin’s Master Watchmakers have been working assiduously behind the scenes to design and produce what is now seen as the most complicated mechanical watch ever made (although some may quibble with the way the complications are enumerated). The Reference 57260, commissioned by a collector who insisted on both anonymity and the utmost discretion regarding its price (the figure of CHF 8 million is being whispered, although it hasn’t been confirmed), marks a major step forward in the evolution of 28 | INNOVATION | europa star
57 complications in a single watch, unveiled on the very anniversary of the Geneva manufacture’s 260th year of continuous operation.
PERPETUAL CALENDAR RETROGRADE DATE •
• STAR CHART AND SIDEREAL TIME HOURS AND MINUTES (for the owner’s city) • LAST DAY OF EACH MONTH IN RED
DAY/NIGHT INDICATION FOR SECOND TIME ZONE •
• LEAP YEAR AND FOUR-YEAR CYCLE DISPLAY
24-CITY DISPLAY FOR EACH TIME ZONE •
• NUMBER OF THE DAY OF THE WEEK (ISO 8601 calendar)
SECOND TIME ZONE HOURS AND MINUTES •
• PERPETUAL CALENDAR MONTH NAME • WEEK TO VIEW (ISO 8601 calendar) • PERPETUAL DAYS AND MONTHS, SEASONS, EQUINOXES, SOLSTICES AND SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC INDICATED BY THE HAND ON THE SUN
PERPETUAL CALENDAR DAY NAME • SUNSET TIMES • (for the owner’s city)
• LENGTH OF NIGHT (for the owner’s city)
LENGTH OF DAY • (for the owner’s city)
• SUNRISE TIMES (for the owner’s city) • TOURBILLON REGULATOR WITH SPHERICAL BALANCE SPRING
EQUATION OF TIME •
WORLD TIME | ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR
mechanical watchmaking. There is little doubt that all the research, accumulated mathematical and astronomical calculations, technical advances, innovative mechanical transpositions and solutions, and complex know-how acquired during its design and production will continue to bear fruit in Vacheron Constantin’s future timepieces, and even beyond, in the art of 21st century mechanical watchmaking as a whole. It’s good to know that, in the era of the smartwatch, mechanical watchmaking can still steal the limelight. (PM) europa star
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EUROPA STAR ARCADE
This most British of Swiss watchmakers – along with fellow classmate Stephen Forsey – has succeeded in creating a kind of timelessness, above and beyond the advertising hype, with his models inspired by the creativity and craftsmanship of the watchmakers of the last century. by Serge Maillard What is your watchmaking approach? I am fascinated by the spirit of watchmakers from the turn of the 20th century, up to the 1940s. At that time they only produced original pieces. Every watch was designed by human beings. It was also a great era for movement development. Brands were in a state of continual research. In those days, it was essential to have the time on your wrist. Today no one needs to tell the time any more, and we are moving into the domain of luxury. Nevertheless, I continue to draw my inspiration from the past, in order to reinvent the watch. The wheel is the symbol of my brand, because it is what the watch is built on. It’s also the symbol for the soul. The wheel inspires my design philosophy; I’m very much about ‘form follows function’. OBJECT: STEP STOOL “I come from Wales, and I decided to move to Switzerland in 1995. The following year I married Daniella, who is from Chile, and a bit shorter than me. Before our wedding I went into an antique shop in Le Locle, and I bought this step stool. After I took it home my fiancée stepped onto it and kissed me. The stool cost me five francs, but it’s moments like these that turn into memories that last forever. And this object is an apt symbol for the joining of our two names, which is where Speake-Marin comes from.”
What do you hope to bring to what is already a rather saturated marketplace? I believe that I belong to a generation of watchmakers – which includes Max Büsser, Stephen Forsey and Kari Voutilainen – who are trying to reinvent the watch according to this principle. I studied with Stephen Forsey at Hackney Technical College in London, and we worked together at an antique restorer’s in Piccadilly. That’s where I fell in love with watchmaking, and it’s also where my classical style comes from. I found my vocation at the age of 17. Before that I didn’t do very well at school. What’s interesting is that we have inherited both the rich creativity of the early 20th century, independent watchmakers like Daniel Roth, Franck Muller, Roger Dubuis and Richard Mille, and also the internet. We wouldn’t be here without the web. Clients have access to an increasing amount of information about watches, which is vital for us in a market that, as you say, is very saturated. You started Speake-Marin 15 years ago. How has the watchmaking environment changed for you over this period? Leading up to 2007 the market was exploding. Back then, the first question people would ask us was, what makes you different? Today the main factor is price. There has been a psychological shift: clients are far more sensitive to cost, and more critical of it. We certainly offer a vast range, going from CHF 8,000 to 300,000, given that our production is just 800 watches per year. We also receive an increasing number of commissions for oneoff pieces, such as the Kennin-Ji Temple Masters, which we have just completed. When I started out, I brought to market all the models I had in my head. I had no business plan. As they say, an expert is
someone who has made all the mistakes in the field! These days I surround myself with a highly competent team, who help me keep my feet on the ground. Our business is currently in the midst of a major restructuring. Sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to take a step back. We will be revising the way we conduct our sales. All will be revealed very soon! How are your collections structured? And what are your primary markets now? Our Spirit collection is sporty and military; the J-Class is classical; the Mystères are esoteric. We’ve also had a go at jewellery, but we can’t afford too much dilution. Nevertheless, our women’s model, the Shenandoah, came from our jewellery range. The Velsheda and Resilience are some of our best-selling models. The latter is one of my favourites; it’s a signature. My clients often say it feels like they’re wearing ‘my’ watch. We have two primary markets: Asia and the United States. Originally we only worked with collectors, but it’s no longer possible to limit yourself to a small group. With the support of our new ambassador, Pierce Brosnan, we are hoping to connect with all watch lovers. Asia is particularly important in this respect. When I spend a week in Singapore I do a lot more business than I would in London. p
Photo: Carlo Fachini
europa star | EUROPA STAR ARCADE | 31
EUROPA STAR ARCADE
Raymond Weil, the brand famous for its music-themed collections, celebrates its fortieth anniversary next year. Thirty-four-year-old Elie Bernheim, representing the third generation to lead one of the last bastions of independent family-run watchmaking, talks about his strategy in the face of unstable markets and multiple pressures. by Serge Maillard The current economic situation is a delicate one, and independent watchmakers are coming under significant pressure from the groups. Some might say the future looks rather bleak. Conditions are difficult, yes, but we have a number of advantages, the most important of which is a truly global presence, which is rare for an independent brand. Also, our financial fundamentals are very healthy, despite the crises. Over the last fifteen years our aims have evolved: we have invested a great deal in mechanical watchmaking, which has enabled us to increase the average price of our watches while taking production up to 200,000 units per year. Behind these strategies, our number one advantage nevertheless remains the quality of our products. In this respect we are untouchable. After-sales service is also a key point: all our sales staff and agents are put through a high-quality training programme.
The watchmaking industry today is undergoing a major image battle. How do you intend to maintain or even grow your presence with both intermediaries and end clients? We can’t compete with the marketing clout of the big global watchmaking groups, but as long as we have a firm footing in our key markets we can achieve our objectives. The United States remains by far our number one outlet, representing one-third of our sales. The United Kingdom is second. But did you know that we are also Turkey’s secondbiggest watch brand? In Antalya we have three times the exposure we are ‘allowed’ in Switzerland! Russia is also a growing market, as is Spain, the Middle East and Mexico. For high-volume brands like ours, it’s important to be present on markets that have a large population. The battle for shop window space is certainly a tricky one. Personal relationships are important: I’m forever heading out of the door with my suitcase to meet our 3,500 retailers. We offer an interesting alternative, when many points of sale are also coming under pressure from the groups. We have even been dropped by some retailers, as a result of pressure from the watchmaking groups. I’ll tell you a story: recently I met an American retailer, who had us positioned between two other group brands in his window. One of the groups wanted more space, and the retailer was thinking about cutting our area. But I told him to think carefully about the balance of power: we have remained reliable and loyal for 20 years. I dared to say no, and so did he, in order to retain an independent brand. I felt vindicated in my approach. Who are your clients? Our core clientele is between 25 and 45 years old, which is a solid reflection of our brand identity, which is active in
the affordable luxury sector. Our most popular collections are the Freelancer and the Maestro. A Raymond Weil is often the first watch someone will receive as a gift, for a special occasion. Today our production is 60% automatic and 40% quartz. In terms of gender mix, the sexes are equally balanced. You recently brought out your first tourbillon. Is it the harbinger of a move upmarket? No, that’s absolutely out of the question! We are staying in the CHF 800– 3,000 segment, with our core range at CHF 1,000–2,500. I will never move away from that, it’s our affordable luxury niche. The tourbillon was mainly about image management and flexing our muscles. After I took the reins of the company last year, it was a powerful driver for our 150 staff. In order to produce it, we joined our internal capacities with those of TEC Ebauches in a partnership. It was a very motivating experience. Your collections are all built around a musical theme. Will you continue in this direction? Music is part of our DNA, but I think we’ll take it further, and use the theme even more provocatively. We are in the process NABUCCO
of branching out from classical music and entering into partnerships to produce special Gibson and Frank Sinatra editions. Have you been affected by the slowdown in China? It has had less impact on us than on other watchmakers because, unlike some, we didn’t rush to jump on the Chinese bandwagon ten years ago. In light of the current slowdown, we are happy not to be dependent on this market. But China will continue to grow, and the watchmaking environment there is becoming more structured. It’s the right time to invest. We already have 120 points of sale there. In fact, the Chinese crisis has given us reason to be particularly proud of our prudent management. We don’t want to find ourselves with stock levels that could endanger the company. I think we have the lowest stocks of all the highvolume brands. It’s a sign that we know what we’re doing. We are opening new points of sale but we want to be sure of the sell-out rate, because we can’t afford to have our cash tied up. Nevertheless, an increasing number of independent brands have been bought out in recent years. Last year, for example, Ulysse Nardin was bought by Kering. If someone were to make you an interesting offer, what would you do? As long as we are capable of growing, which has been the case up to now, we will not sell. With the exception of 2009, our profits have grown every year since 1990. But I don’t want to see the company decline. If I sense that we are stagnating, survival of the company will come first. But what’s to stop us joining forces with other independent watchmakers and ‘holdouts’? An alliance based on common distribution or communication objectives could be a positive development. p europa star | EUROPA STAR ARCADE | 33
ACCELERATING THROUGH THE BENDS
EUROPA STAR ARCADE
The independent Belgian brand Raidillon, which is strongly anchored in the world of motor racing, is hoping to jostle some of the established drivers in this highly contested watchmaking sector. Interview with its director.
What are your most popular models?
In general, it’s the ones we feature in our advertisements; advertising has a very strong knock-on effect on sales! What I have observed is that 20% of our models represent 80% of our sales. Around 10 to 15 new models sell very well within six months. A further 15 models sell out in one to two years. And then there’s what we might call the ‘soft underbelly’...!
by Serge Maillard Who are your clients? Where does the name Raidillon come from? It comes from a steeply cambered corner on the Spa-Francorchamps motor racing circuit in Belgium. This section of the track exerts a strong centrifugal force that pins the driver to his seat. The effect is so marked that drivers can no longer see the track. Traditionally, competitors who took the Raidillon at full speed would go on to win the race. But with today’s new technologies, all the F1 drivers now keep their foot to the floor through this section! All our watches are produced in limited editions of 55, which is historically the number of cars allowed on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. A watch is like a vintage car: it piques people’s interest and encourages curiosity, dialogue and human contact. So, whether you drive an old car or wear an original watch... How many collections do you offer? We have four style ‘families’: Timeless, the most classical; Design, which is bold and avant-garde; Racing, which is sporty; and Casual Friday, sporty but elegant. Taking all four collections together, we have a total of between 70 and 80 models to choose from. Our watch strap is inspired by the ventilated gloves worn by racing drivers in the 1950s. We produce around 1,000 timepieces per year, Swiss made and assembled in Ticino.
Men, mainly, aged between 35 and 45. They often already have a good watch, although we are seeing more and more clients who buy a Raidillon as their first watch. Our watches have an average price of CHF 3,000 and offer good value for money. We are competing with brands such as Hamilton, Tudor and of course TAG Heuer, which also has a strong presence in the motor racing world. The strength of a brand such as ours is that our watches have far less ‘brand markup’ than some others. More established brands offer watches that are equivalent to ours, fitted with Valjoux movements, but CHF 2,000 dearer. Moreover, we offer a five-year guarantee, which is very good for the watch industry. How are your watches distributed? We have a shop in Brussels and we are about to open one in London, although the rent there is extremely high! Apart from that, we work with retailers and distributors. They will never be the top watch retailers in town: for example, none of our points of sale stock Rolex. With a Rolex, you just have to wrap it. With a Raidillon, you have to actually sell it! (Laughter) We have worked hard on developing our watchmaking technique, now we need to work on our ‘emotional’ attraction.
What’s working best at the moment is special commissions for institutions and companies. Recently, for example, we were approached by François Hollande’s bodyguards. In Belgium, King Albert wears a Raidillon, and our watches are often given as gifts by the royal family to their guests. What are your main challenges? Brand recognition, production capacity and above all relations with our retailers. We are launching onto one or two major new markets each year. This year, for example, it’s Canada’s turn. We are in a building phase. We have two enormous advantages: more and more brands are opening own-brand boutiques, which leaves more openings for independent retailers; and they are placing retailers under great pressure, while what I offer is a friendly, human commercial relationship. But we still haven’t reached our desired critical mass, which is 2,000 watches per year. That would greatly improve our negotiating power with suppliers and retailers. Indeed, we are witnessing an increasingly damaging trend, which is retailers not paying their bills, even in cities like Paris. They are suffering, and when it comes to settling their bills at the end of the month, who do you think they are going to pay? A big brand or us? Loyalty has to work both ways. p
Photo: Carlo Fachini
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EUROPA STAR ARCADE
The Meccaniche Veloci duo: Cesare Cerrito, owner, and Riccardo Monfardino, CEO
Italian to its fingertips, but strictly Swiss made. This is the formula with which Meccaniche Veloci hopes to seduce the international markets. It translates into watches that are astonishingly light, with generous curves, designed around the piston and inspired by the world of the motor car. Interview with the company’s new president, Cesare Cerrito.
You’ve mentioned your brand’s DNA several times. What does it mean, for you? piston! For example, I have one of the pistons that helped Michael Schumacher win the World Championship in a Ferrari in 2000. It’s like my lucky charm. But not everyone is Italian!
by Serge Maillard Meccaniche Veloci was founded in 2006 in Italy, with a very strong identity focused around its piston-based designs. It passed from hand to hand, before arriving in your lap this year. Yes, in fact I took over the brand just a few months ago. I come from the world of finance but I have been passionate about watches and motors since I was a child. When I saw that Meccaniche Veloci was looking for a buyer I didn’t hesitate to invest in the brand. It had a pure mechanical aesthetic combined with Italian DNA, which appealed to me. I realised, however, that the company needed an injection of speed and passion.
on their wrist. Also, interestingly, although our DNA is fundamentally masculine, we have quite a strong female customer base in Japan. Our watches might appear massive, but they are in fact extremely light. In terms of price, they range between CHF 1,700 and 12,000, or CHF 30,000 in gold.
Sure, our watch will always be a polarising product: you either love it or you hate it. But we believe that’s an advantage, because it has a powerful identity. Retailers agree to take the brand because they appreciate its attraction in the window. It draws people like a magnet. And it’s not all about Italy; our primary market now is Japan! Fundamentally, I believe that the most important thing is not to dilute our brand. But that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in partnerships. For instance, we have renewed our agreement with the famous Italian motorcycle helmet manufacturer Suomy. We have to take things step by step. We’re not a start-up any more, but we’re not yet a multinational either. What are your target markets?
The three strong, iconic features of our watches are, first, the absence of lugs, second, the four valves on the dial, and third, the perfectly circular profile of a piston segment. In my view the model that best exemplifies our brand identity is the Quattro Valvole Icon: it harks back to the design of the very first model created by Marco Colombo in 2006. Will you be keeping the existing collections? Absolutely. But we will be reducing our 200 references and bringing out fewer models, but with an even stronger identity. And although our heart is Italian, our spirit is Swiss. We are going to design as many components as possible in Geneva, using local partners and we’ll be introducing our first in-house movement for the end of 2015. Our goals are reasonable – my background is in finance and I still have a cautious outlook. Quite simply, our sales must allow us to achieve our dreams!
What direction do you intend to go in? Marco Colombo, its founder, was a genius. It was his instinct to put a watch inside a piston – a simple but crucial idea. I have been lucky enough to inherit this concept, along with a very clear identity, and an industrial organisation built around the brand. In my opinion, we need to get back to the roots of Meccaniche Veloci, which means design. The real root of our brand is the piston. You know, all Italians keep at least one spare
We are aiming for global distribution, but we particularly want to strengthen our presence in Europe and the United States, which in my opinion will be the next growth vector for our brand. Thankfully, word of mouth works very well on social networks, and our strong identity certainly helps in that. We don’t have any official ambassadors, but there are a number of famous sportsmen who have no hesitation in being photographed with one of our watches
Do you produce any one-off pieces? Our Only One collection is based strictly on the concept of unique models. We build our watches out of car, plane and helicopter components. And we are currently taking this concept even further: we have just launched the Only One Off, which is 100% bespoke. You bring us your car component or idea, and we’ll use it to build a watch for you. It’s truly unique! p
Photo: Carlo Fachini
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PIAGET‘s first complication watch dedicated to women, the LIMELIGHT STELLA WATCH 36MM is entirely designed and developed in the Manufactures of La Côte-aux-Fées and Geneva. While the moon has been a symbol of timeless femininity since the dawn of time and in every corner of the earth, Piaget explores a new approach to the theme focusing on its aesthetic and above all its lyrical nature. Dreams and imagination pervade time’s relentless march, infusing it with a unique touch of soulfulness. 18K pink gold case set with 126 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.65 ct), white dial with pink gold hour-markers, moon phase underlined with 14 diamonds (approx. 0.06 ct). Sapphire case-back. Manufacture Piaget 584P self-winding mechanical large moon phase indicator movement, 42h power reserve.
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HARRY WINSTON’S PREMIER LACE 31MM is fascinating and mysterious, with its shimmering white mother-of-pearl lace bold against a black sunburst dial. This model is also available in more romantic tones – pink mother-of-pearl against a Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial. The elegant motif is made from mother-of-pearl measuring just 0.15 mm thick. The House’s unbelievably complex workmanship creates arabesques of light and shade. 63 brilliant-cut diamonds blossom across the bezel and arches, perfectly accentuating the voluptuous lines of these creations.
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CHANEL presents the BOY.FRIEND watch, its new watch creationâ€Ś A watch with a masculine allure just for women. A creation that draws from the watchmaking vocabulary of the House with its sober, refined design, strong lines, and its signature shape. The design is both contemporary and classic, and its angles are polished or satin-finished. CHANEL takes its first feminine creation, the PREMIĂˆRE, into masculine territory. The BOY .FRIEND watch encapsulates the art of borrowing elements from the masculine wardrobe so dear to Mademoiselle Chanel.
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BVLGARI, IL GIARDINO NOTTURNO A garden in which the night sky reveals a stylised belle-de-nuit or moonflower, a motif that appeared in mother-of-pearl marquetry on a piece of BVLGARI jewellery in the 1970s. The complexity of the dial is reflected in the various elements of which each of its three versions is composed. The dial architecture built on four levels represents the four elements.
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HERMÈS introduces an unusual interpretation of its PENDENTIF BOULE by exploring the art of cloisonné enamelling. The exacting demands of this skill are rendered all the more complex by the rounded nature of the back of the watch, on which the enameller has created a unique motif for Hermès.
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GUCCI DIAMANTISSIMA collection. Five models in a range of sizes (32mm, 27mm and 22mm) display a feminine look and feel with elegantly understated detailing. Each watch showcases the iconic diamante pattern that has inspired this line. Rendered in colourways of stainless steel and white or pink gold PVD with black and matching black calf leather strap (32mm and 27mm), the diamante pattern stands out on the cases, which are rendered in tone-on-tone stainless steel or contrasting colours of black and pink gold PVD. GUCCI SPRING-SUMMER 2016 COLLECTION. Plexiglas 40 x 24mm case with green-red-green stripe, skeleton dial in gold finish, green-red-green Plexiglas bangle, engraved bee motif on the case back, quartz movement.
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IWC PORTOFINO AUTOMATIC MOON PHASE 37 with its 37mm case, represents the subtle luxury unique to the popular watch family. The design of the moon phase display is classic: the moon itself rises and sets behind a foreground of clouds. The softly shimmering mother-of-pearl dial with its 12 diamonds creates an attractive sensation of depth and underscores the clear design of the dial.
DE GRISOGONO GRAPPOLI Collection is made up of five one-of-a-kind de GRISOGONO creations. Alongside the emerald and white diamond versions, precious unique compositions celebrate the colours of the rainbow. From dazzling and zesty orange sapphires to a splendid explosion of peerless but more restrained blue sapphires, the effervescent gemstones become more intimate with the highly desirable mauve hue of the amethysts.
RETAILERS & DISTRIBUTORS CORNER
HOW AGGRESSIVE DISCOUNTING IS THREATENING THE WATCH INDUSTRY The watch industry’s slowdown has trapped many brands in a dilemma: price rebates are supposed to motivate consumer demand and boost sales. Yet aggressive price incentives put gross and profit margins under pressure. In the death zone of continuous discounting many brands risk being wiped out. The air is getting thinner. by Dr Frank Müller, The Bridge To Luxury (TBTL)
TOUGH TIMES AND WEAK OUTLOOK The recent news has not been encouraging. For September, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reports a yearto-date decline in wristwatch exports of 2.4% in value and 0.8% in units. Though the contraction seems to be moderate, compared to the industry’s compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% for all exports from 2000 to 2014, and 13% for timepieces above a per-piece export value of CHF 3,000, the numbers are dramatic. With its excess capacity the industry is increasingly struggling to
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respond to the challenges. And the outlook for 2016 promises little relief. The Bridge To Luxury estimates next year’s growth at a maximum of 1–3%, which would correspond, at best, to the 2014 results. In comparison, TBTL expects the luxury industry as a whole to perform at a 4–6% rate next year.
MULTIPLE EXTERNAL CHALLENGES Obviously, China’s modest economic growth has surprised and impacted the watch industry. And so have the anticorruption measures implemented by the Chinese government. The Greece crisis has paralysed local demand in many European countries – growth here is mainly based on tourist shopping in the major metropolises. Volatile currency exchange rates have added to worrying exogenous factors – a case in point is the Swiss National Bank’s decision to free the franc against the euro. The internet continues to affect the industry: it gives consumers new power over brands by providing quality information about product pricing and availability.
THE INDUSTRY PARTLY TO BLAME Yet, however great the temptation to blame external causes for the current difficult situation, which is unlikely to change anytime soon, the industry has
to ask itself why it is under pressure. The correlation between economic growth and demand for watches is not a new phenomenon. Consumers need to be in a good mood to purchase watches, which is the case if the overall economic frame is positive. It’s just common sense. The same applies to the influence of currency exchange rates on the business. To believe that the Swiss franc and euro would remain perpetually pegged at a 1.2:1 ratio was naïve, and reveals a general industry characteristic: business planning often seems to be based on a simple extrapolation of a favourable past, while potentially negative impacts are glossed over. This leads to aggressive growth targets resulting in capacities and distribution structures exceeding consumer demand. It also points to a disregard for economic cycles, crises and major events that do happen quite often if one just recalls some of the incidents of the last 15 years: 9/11, SARS, Lehman, Greece, Ukraine etc. The industry was slow to anticipate the importance of the internet, and has again been slow to anticipate the impact of the smartwatch. It is a conservative industry in which innovation is generally confined to movements and designs in the constrained universe of a classical steel or gold case. Excluding the big groups, with diminishing sales many small and medium-sized brands face increasing cash flow and funding problems, because they have failed to put anything aside for a rainy day.
DISCOUNTING AS THE SOLUTION? In reaction to a challenging environment the industry is largely responding in two classic ways: cost-cutting and price reductions along the distribution chain. Both approaches are legitimate, however they are not without risk to the brand’s image. In general, streamlining expenditure in times of crisis starts with marketing. It is a fair assumption that the smaller the company, the more hazardous the effect of a reduced brand presence in the marketplace. Big brands maintain recognition and recall values at higher levels due to their bigger budgets, in both relative and absolute terms. Even if the effects are not felt before, once the markets rebound the consequences will be driven home as bigger brands enjoy stronger growth rates, resulting once again in a larger market share. Vicious cycles such as this can also be observed with regard to pricing. Currently, in the high-end timepiece market, collectors are offered discounts on a broad scale, at a rate of a borderline insane 30–50% knock-down on the net retail price. In their urgent need for cash flow, brands try to bypass retailers, distributors and agents and connect directly to the final customers – or the grey market. Given their commissions of 2–5%, many of these players are ready to sell anything to anyone. Sometimes it’s good to remember some basic arithmetic. For example, a brand that previously generated a gross margin of 50%, if it introduces a 10% price rebate, will have to pump up its sales by 25% to achieve the same profit as before. Is this realistic? The discounting will destroy a lot of long-term trust in the market. And most important: the customer will have learnt the lesson that brands are not as sacred as they seemed. A once highly respected luxury and prestige object is turned into a commodity. Cynically, one could add that at least the pricing of the Apple Watch is consistent.
SOME OPTIONS The current crisis triggered by China’s loss of economic momentum is speeding up the process of restructuring in the industry that was delayed and masked by the last decade’s boom in Asia. Sadly, brands, especially those of smaller and medium size, will either silently disappear, or eventually find out that even quite public efforts to attract investors or new owners will be in vain, or will only happen at the expense of high write-offs of assets and brand goodwill. In the future, the industry needs to take a more cautious and humble attitude. Business plans that define at least a five-year horizon, and which factor in at least one major crisis, are an absolute necessity. New attitude, old-school financial planning. Yes, even the venerable watch industry could face the threat of new competition. As a consequence, innovation needs to be understood in a broader sense. The vast healthcare industry, for instance, offers many possible opportunities for new partnerships and pioneering watch-based products. The Lehman crisis showed that watch enthusiasts under time pressure to sell their collections were able to regain 50% of the purchase price for some brands, while others fetched just 10%. Long-term, branding is king. The stronger the brand, the greater the power to withstand the temptation of heavy price discounts in troubled times. But branding is a complex strategic and creative effort that demands patience – and investment. Vertical integration grants control of the distribution chain – and therefore of unwanted grey markets and discounting. However, here again, long-term business plans should anticipate downturns. As embarrassing as it may be, some brands nowadays would be happy to close down some of their expensive monobrand boutiques in Hong Kong, if only
their rental contracts permitted (see our Retail Map, page 68). In this context, sensitive multi-channel management helps. Those who follow the rule “one channel, one offering” are better prepared to flush out a dysfunctional distribution network. International market research on competitors’ pricing, along with monitoring of global currency developments (again linked to business and scenario planning) should be a matter of course. Hedging, while a complicated instrument in itself, may soften currency risks. Obviously, the better the company’s funding, the easier it is to weather the storms. If marketing budgets really are to be cut, it should be done where the effects on strategic brand as well as customer and retailer relationships are the least hurt. How big does a booth at an intra-industry fair really have to be to make an impression? On an organisational level it is important to control local business units that may be tempted to secretly compromise on pricing. Here, it is possible to define sales managers’ contracts such that they focus on healthy gross margins rather than rapid sales growth. One of today’s management tasks is to consider business exit scenarios in a timely fashion. Over recent years it has proved increasingly difficult to identify investors. The search should start as early as possible – and in many cases the process itself gives owners and senior management a valuable learning experience in terms of the true market value of the company and its brands. There are no easy and very few shortterm solutions to the current situation. However, the old saying will unfortunately prove correct: “Those who resist change will be changed.” At some point, restructuring will take place. Professional brands try to lead the process consciously and in advance. For the others, the air is indeed getting thinner. p
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RETAILERS & DISTRIBUTORS CORNER
WHEN WE OPEN BOUTIQUES, WE PUT RETAILERS OUT OF BUSINESS” So how does the current generation of customers differ from those of the past?
Smartwatches, the younger generation, retail: an overview of the state of the industry with watchmaking consultant and instructor Gianfranco Ritschel, one of the most knowledgeable insiders in the business. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
ianfranco Ritschel had the great good fortune to be born into a family of watchmakers in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. These days he is an independent trainer in watchmaking sales and techniques, and his CV is impressive: watchmaker and restorer, for Rolex among others; director of the Swiss market for Piaget; director of Bucherer in Lugano then manager of the company’s watchmaking division (at the time Bucherer was opening shops outside Switzerland and had launched its own Carl F. Bucherer brand); director of the Swiss market for Sowind Group. Now also a consultant for the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), this polyglot and polymath gives us a frank appraisal of the current state of the watchmaking industry. Interview.
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What impact will the smartwatch have on the Swiss watchmaking industry? Will it cause problems for sales personnel trained in traditional watchmaking? These new products will create an enormous complementary market. It’s a good thing: 50% of people in the United States don’t wear a watch! If smartwatches are sold in the same points of sale as traditional watches, it will be a major challenge for sales staff. Clearly, we could look at setting up specialised training courses, with institutions such as the FHH. But that is primarily the role of the brands, depending on how it fits in with their strategy. The smartwatch won’t kill Haute Horlogerie: it will help it to mature. For me, it’s similar to the situation created by Swatch in the 1980s: a broadening of minds and a revolution in the perception of this ultimately useless but nevertheless essential object: the watch.
To put this in context, broadly speaking, 50 years ago anyone interested in buying a watch would first of all look at its durability and reliability; 25 years back, its value as a status symbol was the most important quality. Today, a watch needs to have a cultural and intellectual value with which the client can identify. This is increasingly the case in the more ‘mature’ markets such as Europe. China and the United States are still a long way from this kind of attitude, and much remains to be done to make high-end watches desirable. But perceptions are changing rapidly, particularly in Asia, where watches are increasingly seen as artistic creations. What are the risks for watchmakers, given these different customer profiles? Today we are witnessing an ‘arms race’ in terms of materials, which is dangerous. Around 75% of clients are Asian, and what they are increasingly looking for is ‘real’ mechanical watchmaking. They are becoming aware that the use of new and foreign materials in watchmaking, such as silicon, for example, has its limitations, and it runs counter to their expectations of traditional watchmaking. Thankfully, in watchmaking there are no limits to the imagination. u
As in art, there is always room for reinterpretation. This creative force is an important catalyst in watchmaking, as much so today as it was in the past. What we think of as ‘traditional’ watchmaking continues to evolve, and makes increasing use of technology, but there are limits of acceptability and these must be respected. And it’s wrong to say, as some people would have you believe, that there is no more room for invention in watchmaking. It’s the same as saying that, since oil paint has already been invented, there can be no new paintings. Nevertheless, traditional retailers are struggling today with the pressures and constraints placed upon them by the major groups. Many brands have pulled out of retail outlets in order to manage their retail operations in-house. Some mistakes were made, some people got arrogant and there were abuses. But the reality is that, when boutiques are opened, retailers go out of business. The more robust retailers remain. And sometimes, these retailers benefit from the brand’s increased strength, and achieve better results than before. Those retailers that lose brands, luckily, have the advantage that customers these days are far more willing than they were even ten years ago to look at newcomers, recently established companies and lesser-known brands. An entire generation of watchmakers has been able to exploit this open-mindedness and launch themselves successfully onto the market. Retailers will never disappear: brands will always need ‘capillary’ distribution to all markets, in addition to their own distribution networks. Relations are certainly more difficult, but retailers who ask themselves “What can I bring to my partner brand?” will always have a future, and a place at the retail table. p
A CENTURY OF HAUTE HORLOGERIE IN VIENNA All Austrian collectors are familiar with the name of Christian Hübner, a retailer who has been a fixture on the local scene for more than a century. Over the last one hundred years the shop has seen everything, from war, to fire, to the arrival of watch brand boutiques just a few doors away. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
n Austria it is known as the ‘Hofburg’ of fine watchmaking, in reverential reference to the Viennese imperial palace. Run for over a century by the same family, Hübner is the oldest retailer on the local watchmaking scene, with shops on the prestigious Graben in the city centre, as well as in Linz and Wels. Owner Christian Hübner is the only Austrian who is a member of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. The retailer’s history makes fascinating reading. Founded by Rudolph Hübner in 1914, the shop originally specialised in restoring pocket watches and table clocks, but by the thirties it had become an importer of Swiss watches, beginning
with Jaeger-LeCoultre, whose Vienna boutique it now operates. Towards the end of the Second World War the shop was damaged in a bombing raid and all the watches were looted. Then, in 1959, a fire raged through the premises. The following year, at the tender age of 19, Christian Hübner took over from his father. “We were the first retailer in Austria to represent brands such as Blancpain, Breguet and Hublot,” recalls the owner. “I haven’t missed a single Baselworld since I started!” He is also particularly proud of having contributed to the revival of the German fine watchmaking tradition in Glashütte at the end of the Cold War. “I wrote to Günter Blümlein and told him I’d be happy to buy A. Lange & Söhne’s first new collection. In 1991 we reached an agreement. Today I count Walter Lange as a friend.” As a result of these long-standing relationships, in 2014, on its one-hundredth anniversary, the retailer was able to offer special limited editions in partnership with Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Nomos and IWC. u
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WHEN THE BRANDS WANT A PIECE OF THE PIE Nevertheless, given the consolidation of the industry and its growing global reach, the landscape has changed significantly over the decades, as Christian Hübner points out: “Before, we had a more direct relationship with brands. We might decide to take a trip to Switzerland, turn up at the door and ask for a meeting with the CEO. Today the doors are less likely to be open. With the big multinationals, which is what the watchmaking groups have become, their organisation is also more complex.” Bearing testimony to the watchmaking companies’ desire to exercise greater control over distribution, the number of own-brand boutiques in the Austrian capital has soared. Some of the brands represented by Christian Hübner now have their own shopfronts, just a few doors down the street. How is he dealing with this new situation? “We can’t change things; we just have to live with this new competition. We have also embraced the change. In fact, for the last two years we have run JaegerLeCoultre’s Vienna boutique.” The retailer and the brand have found a way to make the relationship work for
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both parties. The boutique, for example, can take advantage of the back-office setup and watch sales experience of the multi-brand store. “It was difficult in the beginning, as we had to learn how to work in a mono-brand situation, but we are happy with it now. Running this boutique has also brought us closer to the brand. We have more meaningful dialogue, access to better information and quicker deliveries for our clients. The project has nevertheless meant a huge investment on our part.”
BREAKING DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN VISITORS Who are the retailer’s clients? “Some of our customers have been coming to us for 30 years. I have an excellent relationship with these collectors. We make a great effort to ensure that at least two-thirds of our business comes from Austrian clients. In that way we can cover our costs with local trade, since they are more reliable clients. All it takes is an outbreak of bird flu and we won’t be seeing any more Asians for a while...” Other retailers in the vicinity, who rely heavily on foreign tourists for their custom, find they are vulnerable to geopolitical pressures, as Christian Hübner notes:
“At the moment, for example, we don’t see any Russians or Ukrainians, and they used to be good customers. Thankfully, there are more and more Asian visitors, particularly in the summer. They make up for the absence of Austrians during the summer holiday period.” He has nevertheless observed a difference in buyer behaviour depending on their geographical origin. While Austrians are more likely to shop at a multi-brand retailer, the Chinese prefer mono-brand boutiques.
2015: A GOOD VINTAGE As a consequence of this cautious approach to volatile foreign clientele, the retailer is less affected by a slowdown in sales from that quarter, and expects profits to continue to grow this year. The strong Swiss franc has also not had a significant impact: “I think that the Swiss watch industry had a panic reaction. In the space of a few days, watch prices skyrocketed. And yet these brands already have comfortable margins, of around 30%, which is not something you find in any other industry. I’d be happy with a profit margin of 10%!” In Christian Hübner’s view, customer service is what makes the difference these days. “In our shop it is possible to compare brands, and we advise clients on the models that suit them best. They demand reasonable value in return for the money they are intending to invest, and we are honest with them.” Another key element is regular communication. “We organise special events for our clients, and we publish our own newspaper, for instance.” p
G-SHOCK MTG – G1000
UNPARALLELED PERFORMANCE COMBINED WITH ELEGANCE Casio presents its most advanced G-Shock MTG, whose urban chic appearance belies its sophisticated interior. It features CASIO’s original technology the solar powered GPS Hybrid Wave Ceptor time calibration system to receive GPS satellite and Radio wave to keep accurate time anywhere and anytime in the globe.
ince its creation in 1983, the Casio G-Shock has fully earned its reputation as an icon of contemporary watchmaking at its most cutting-edge. Over the last few years the G-Shock has increasingly embraced the concept of analogue display. The use of traditional hands (driven by independent micro-motors) has not only opened up new possibilities in both functional and stylistic terms, by increasing legibility and allowing more options for hierarchical display; it has also introduced the watch to a wider public, who appreciate its unprecedented blend of high-tech, toughness and formal elegance.
MT-G SERIES In 1999 Casio introduced a new series, the G-Shock MT-G, the initials standing for â€˜Metal-Twistedâ€™. Its ingenious shock-resistant structure incorporates two radically different materials: stainless steel and urethane. Urethane is an organic molecule that can be made into plastics with a variety of textures and hardnesses, with many applications in industry. Casioâ€™s engineers were able to reproduce the complex forms of the G-Shock case in this composite structure by using MIM (Metal Injection Moulding) technology. From the year 2000 Casio began producing a series of models, such as the
MTG-500, with striking designs combining coloured resins within a metal case. Several years later, in 2007, the first MTG-1000 appeared. This model incorporated two technologies in an unusual way: radio-controlled time functions with automatic time correction, and a solar charging system that converted light into kinetic energy, thus ensuring the functional stability of the watch. In 2013, Casio brought out an even tougher model: the MTG-S1000, featuring the innovative Core Guard Structure. The bezel was securely bonded to the case back with four tiny stainless steel pipes, and a new hollow structure provided increased protection to the module it enclosed. Advanced shaping and soldering technologies were used to strengthen the lugs, which bear the brunt of the intense pressure exerted on this crucial joining point between case and strap.
In addition to this unprecedented performance, the MTG-G1000 is equipped with other remarkable new features:
IN 2015, CASIO LAUNCHED THE MOST ADVANCED MTG, THE MTG-G1000
New Core Guard Structure
Casio’s new MTG-G1000, the latest in the MTG series, features a series of spectacular innovations, making it probably the most advanced, toughest, most innovative and most aesthetically refined of the G-Shocks.
WORLD FIRST THE GPS HYBRID WAVE CEPTOR The G-Shock MTG-G1000 is the first watch in the MT-G series to be equipped with a GPS hybrid wave captor system driven by solar power. GPS hybrid means that the watch is equipped with two complementary systems, enabling it to display the exact time anywhere in the world, under any conditions. This performance is made possible by the use of time-calibration signals from GPS satellites combined with terrestrial radio-controlled signals, which are quickly analysed and adjusted for daylight saving time at the current location. This technology uses an original GPS algorithm, which divides the earth’s surface into a grid of 500m units. Information transmitted to the satellite from the watch enables its location to be evaluated with high precision. By analysing areas that share the same time zone and daylight saving time, the time can be adjusted almost instantaneously. This GPS Hybrid system is also complemented by reception of Multiband 6 terrestrial radio signals, enabling the time to be set even inside buildings or in built-up areas. Signals are received from six transmission stations covering Japan, North America, Europe and China.
The central module, the brains of the watch, is better protected than ever. As in the previous model, the module is set into a metal frame that secures the bezel to the case back by means of four tiny stainless steel tubes. An internal case made of composite resin inside this framework protects the module from direct shocks and a slim resin shock absorber between the bezel and the case acts as a form of suspension, considerably attenuating shock impact.
Triple G Resist In order to achieve the greatest possible toughness, the watch is equipped with a specific structure not only to reduce shocks but also to attenuate centrifugal force and vibrations – the three types of gravitational acceleration.
Dual Coil Motor The World Time hands are driven by a high torque dual coil motor. This innovation enables the hands to move with amazing speed both clockwise and anti-clockwise, making world time display almost instantaneous.
Dual Dial World Time: 2-city simultaneous time display Home time and local time are displayed simultaneously on both the central hands and on a subdial, making it possible to read off the time in two locations at a single glance.
High-brightness LED light The dial can be illuminated by means of an LED light source, which makes it easy to read in any conditions, even in absolute darkness.
A FUSION OF STRENGTH AND BEAUTY In addition to its remarkable onboard technology and despite its ability to withstand the toughest conditions, the G-Shock MTG-G1000 is supremely elegant, with a remarkably refined aesthetic. It has been finished to the highest standards, giving it a classic, architectural and contemporary look. Metallic surfaces on the case and bracelet, mirror-polished using the ‘Sallaz’ technique, alternate harmoniously with touches of deep blue, such as the ion-plated cities ring, and the blue resin inserted in the metallic parts of the bracelet. The dial, protected by a high-visibility scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, is highly readable despite the rich variety of indications it displays. Bold 3D indices punctuate the exterior of the dial, giving a remarkable illusion of depth. The hands, carved out of a carbon-fibre based material, are so light that they have been made bigger and even faster. The G-Shock MTG-G1000 must be a major milestone in the ongoing saga of G-Shock icons. p
For more information, please visit: world.g-shock.com/hybrid
RETAILERS & DISTRIBUTORS CORNER
A FOCUS ON WATCHES expanding our network and services into one of the major international growth markets for our customers.
Last January, Stefanie Mändlein became the new Exhibition Director of the German jewellery and timepiece trade fair Inhorgenta Munich. She has made it a priority to strengthen the watchmaking side of the fair and bring in smaller independent brands. Interview. by Serge Maillard, Europa Star
hirty-five-year-old Stefanie Mändlein, who was previously Sales Director for Inhorgenta Munich, is working quickly and confidently to give a new impetus to the German fair, which welcomed 1,055 exhibitors from 40 countries last year. “As Exhibition Director, I have been able to expand our contacts significantly. We have the support of a huge number of people who are keen to strengthen our position through joint working groups and new initiatives.” Among her most significant achievements so far is a new agreement with the Shenzhen Watch & Clock Fair and the organisation of a roadshow for the German trade fair in Tel Aviv. What are your main objectives for the fair? We would like exhibitors and jewellers to feel at home and understood at our
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Are you hoping to increase the number of watch exhibitors? How will you do this?
trade show, even more than before. We have developed a whole series of actions to support this rapidly changing industry, particularly in the digital arena. They include new services such as our Web Campus, which will show customers and jewellers how to build strong networks, and also innovative theme zones, such as the world of wedding rings, and a programme to promote talented youngsters. These are just some of the innovations that trade visitors and exhibitors can expect at the 2016 fair. You recently signed an agreement with the Shenzhen Watch & Clock Association. What does it involve? As of now, we are the official co-organisers of an international pavilion at the China Watch & Clock Fair 2016, which will take place in Shenzhen from 23 to 26 June 2016. This is a win-win situation: they are relying on our competence in the jewellery sector and we are gradually
Watchmaking is of course a very strong segment, and it continues to grow. We are currently involved in intensive discussions with our industry partners on how to attract more watchmakers. We intend to make watches a much stronger focus of the fair than before, but above all we want to become a partner for the many independent watchmakers in Switzerland, for example in the Vallée de Joux, who often remain in the shadow of the industry’s major players. Although they only produce small quantities each year, their watchmaking is outstanding owing to its quality and innovative character. We intend to create a presentation area especially for them in future. By doing so, we can also introduce relatively unknown watchmakers to our visitors, very much in the spirit of making this a “trade show of discovery”. Of course, this does not mean that we will exclude the giants of the industry or major brands. Far from it! Our fair is open to small and large enterprises alike. We welcome all of them and look forward to honest and successful partnerships. p
The next Inhorgenta Munich will take place from 12–15 February 2016 at Messe München. Further information is available at www.inhorgenta.com.
INHORGENTA.DE INHORGENTA-BLOG.DE INHORGENTA.COM/TICKETS
VOICES FROM CHINA
Watches & Wonders 2015
FOR GREATER ASIA Here at the Hong Kong exhibition centre, the third edition of Watches & Wonders is already being referred to as a “mini-SIHH” – a tonguein-cheek remark since it is the largest de luxe watchmaking exhibition in Asia. Here, we take a look at the top complications in a market that is increasingly... complicated! by Jean-Luc Adam, Europa Star
he creation of Watches & Wonders in 2013 was a response to the “spectacular growth of the Asian markets,” in the words of organiser and CEO of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Fabienne Lupo. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, exports by Swiss watchmakers muscled up, by 22.2%, 19.4% and 11% respectively. After that however, exports stagnated and in 2015, deflated. According to the FHH, Asia (50.4% of world sales) fell 9.5% between January and September. Worse than that, in Hong Kong, by far the world’s largest market for Swiss watchmaking goods, sales tumbled 20.5% from January to the end of September 2015! So: can we really sense the wind of change in the chic aisles of the 2015 edition, which took place from 30 September to 3 October? Yes – starting with Audemars Piguet, conspicuous by its absence! Its CEO François-Henry Bennahmias stated to the Hong Kong newspaper
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the South China Morning Post: “At first we weren’t intending to launch innovations but certain brands made a point of it, and from then on all participants have had to showcase an innovation.” It may or may not be a pretext, but the brand from Le Brassus is independent and can change strategy without having to obey directives from the Richemont Group. Note that Richard Mille, another independent brand, is still taking an active role in Watches & Wonders with special editions for Asia. And since the twelve participating brands have numerous innovations between them, it’s hard to imagine the end of this already muchhyped event in this region of the world. Here is our review of the innovations of each brand, in alphabetical order. B A. LANGE & SÖHNE This is the second tribute of the year in honour of the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, with a solid-silver variant of the new 1815 200th Anniversary F. A. Lange watch. The artisanal decoration on its textured silver-plating is reminiscent of
the silver-plated dials of the historical observation watches and marine chronometers produced by this Saxonybased manufacture. The L051.1 hand-wound calibre made up of 188 parts has a power reserve of 55 hours. Its principal distinguishing features include a three-quarter plate in untreated nickel silver, a hand-engraved balance cock, the classic screw balance, high-precision resetting with a lateral set screw and a swan’s neck spring, as well as five gold chatons held in place by thermally blued steel screws. The 40mm case in honey gold is engraved with a number from 001/200 to 200/200, denoting the limited edition of the 1815 200th Anniversary F. A. Lange. C BAUME & MERCIER Paying tribute to Asian culture and to women, Baume & Mercier unveils a watch in jade and diamonds with the evocative name of Promesse Jade. In Asia, ancient legend has it that jade is much more than a talisman, as any woman who wears this exquisite, green-tinted stone with its beneficent aura is protected
for life. But jade is also an imperial symbol of ancestral China, synonymous with good fortune and family inheritance handed down through generations. Here, this ancient stone is metamorphosed into an oval bezel made all the more dazzling by 61 diamonds – making this an exceptional and ultra-confidential watch, since Promesse from Baume & Mercier runs to just 8 items! The back of the case is engraved with the words “Limited Edition – One out of 8”. Its unconventional outline stems from its oval bezel nestling in a 34mm round case, evocative of the ripple that a droplet of water might have left on the silvercoloured dial, adorned with Roman numerals and indices set with eight diamonds. Powered by a high-quality quartz Swiss movement and fitted with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, Promesse Jade is secured to the wrist by a glossy white alligator strap. D CARTIER Mysterious Hours, an idea dating from 1912 and inspired by a French illusionist, weds another watchmaking symbol from Cartier, Clé de Cartier, with a 9981 MC calibre. The conjugation of these two has produced this watch, the two hands of which gravitate completely unattached. Besides its invisible complication, the dial is adorned with Roman
numerals in blue, echoing the sapphire set into the crown. The Roman numerals, railtrack minute scale and sword-shaped hands are all part of Cartier’s Haute Horlogerie collections code. E IWC The discreet Portofino collection from IWC Schaffhausen now boasts a second chronograph, the new Portofino Hand-Wound Monopusher, available in white or red gold. The slight protrusion on the crown is the only indication of its sophisticated user-friendly mechanism. The Monopusher is distinct from conventional chronographs thanks precisely to this single push-button stopwatch that lets you measure time up to 60 minutes. To start, stop or reset the chronograph, all you have to do is press this single, multifunctional pushbutton several times. At the third push, the chronograph hands return to zero. The watch’s appearance also benefits: despite its additional function, it remains a remarkably understated timekeeper. Its 59360 calibre is derived from the highperforming 59000 movement family and has a power reserve of 192 hours – that’s eight days of accuracy when completely rewound. The energy remaining is shown by the power reserve indicator between 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock on the dial. The subdial at 12 o’clock shows the number
of minutes recorded by the chronograph, while the central hand shows the seconds. With the small-seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and the date at 3 o’clock, the dial is harmoniously proportioned. The reverse side is no less remarkable, with a sapphire crystal back that allows you to observe at leisure the manufacture movement decorated with Geneva striping chronograph mechanism. F JAEGER-LECOULTRE Two innovations have joined the legendary Geophysic line from Jaeger-LeCoultre: True Second and Universal Time. The case of the Geophysic True Second stands apart thanks to its ideal case diameter (39.6mm), its magnificent swordshaped hands and baton-style hour markers, as well as the horns which are detached from the case, creating a delicate stylistic break. The screwed back, like that on the 1958 model, ensures greater water-resistance. But what drives it? The 770 self-winding calibre is extraordinarily precise. Remember that the 770 and 772 calibres mobilised the best engineers of the manufacture’s Research and Development centre for eight years, resulting in innovations such as the non-circular balance wheel (called the “Gyrolab”) aimed at reducing friction ... with the air! This precision is also expressed in the concept of the “true
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second”. This means that the second hand advances by “beating the second”, that is, it jumps ahead every second – not the norm for a mechanical movement – and does so without upsetting the functioning of the watch. And for regular travellers it also means easy, swift adjustment when on the road. As for the Geophysic Universal Time, this displays the 772 calibre but, above all, a splendid map of the world, an invitation to travel. The sea is represented by lacquered shades of blue, while the engraved continents have a sunburst finish. The world map, which you never tire of contemplating, is fixed and the hour markers allow you to read the time in 24 time zones simultaneously thanks to a mobile disc. In the interest of absolute simplicity, the time is set using the crown, not a push-button. Once it is set to universal time, there is no further need to adjust it as you travel the globe – all you have to do is advance or turn back the hour hand independently of the minutes and seconds, without sacrificing accuracy... G MONTBLANC Three innovations at Montblanc, with a GMT watch, a perpetual calendar and a cylindrical tourbillon. The first is called Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time Vasco de Gama Limited Edition 238 and has its own manufacture calibre. With this
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watch Montblanc, like other brands of the Richemont Group, is also entering the domain of the decorative arts but without betraying its own style, with some exquisitely small parts. The second is called Heritage Spirit Perpetual Calendar Sapphire, a dazzling creation that marries classic style with a sapphire crystal dial that exposes the inner workings. Incidentally, what time is it? Not easy to decipher... The third innovation is the Montblanc Villeret Collection Tourbillon Cylindrique NightSky Geosphères Limited Edition... for want of a shorter name. But this watch is as complex as its name is long! And despite its imposing size (47mm in diameter), it is nevertheless outstandingly beautiful. Its manual MB M68.40 calibre powers a triple time zone, a local time display and a power reserve indicator symbolised by a compass rose at 6 o’clock. As for the two immobile globes, they reproduce the world’s 24 time zones of the northern and southern hemispheres, and the passage from day to night. The detail on the planets is so fine you can even see the lines of latitude and longitude. H PANERAI The timeless Italian design and sophisticated technical solutions from the new manufacture at Neuchâtel make Radiomir 1940 the new star in the
Panerai firmament. This 42mm watch is reminiscent of Panerai’s historical debut, when the cushion case of the first Radiomir (1936) became the imposing Luminor 1950 case with the emblematic crown protector. Its shape was a response to the needs of the Italian navy, which wanted to supply its commandos with a water-resistant, extremely robust watch with a reliable mechanism and a perfectly legible dial even in the dark and underwater. On board is the P.1000 calibre, every piece of which is made in Panerai’s Neuchâtel manufacture, and vaunted for its exemplary reliability and robustness, not forgetting a power reserve of 3 days thanks to its two series-made barrels. I PIAGET Though we mentioned the decorative arts earlier in relation to Montblanc, they remain the great speciality of Piaget. And its innovations at Hong Kong were so numerous that we shall restrict ourselves to three. The first is “Secrets & Lights – A Mythical Journey by Piaget”, an ode to the play of light and the history of the Silk Road. Inspired by two legendary cities, Venice and Samarkand (“queen of the Earth”), both places offered the manufacture’s workshops a remarkable territory for expression. It is the embodiment of a climax of creative activity. u
The second is the Emperador Coussin world map, the dial of which uses the colour of the enamel and intaglio engraving to create a poetical marriage between earth and sky. The third (ref. G0A40605) represents the dome of the Ulugh Beg observatory, the starry sky over which is captured in cloisonné enamel. Outlined using more than one metre of gold wire by the independent enameller Anita Porchet, the constellations lead us into a cosmos of unbelievable precision, evocative of astronomical charts. Here, the manufacture wished to pay tribute to the work of the numerous scientists who came to study the astrolabe and the giant sextant in the observatory, built in 1429. Thanks to them, more than 1,108 stars were catalogued, and their work is still a reference for astronomers today. J RICHARD MILLE Its honeycomb structure catapulted it to the heights of horological innovation in 2001. Today, the RM022 Aerodyne Dual Time Zone in carbon nanofibre is wedded to red gold for an “Asia Edition”. It too features the RM022 manuallywound, tourbillon calibre offering a power reserve of 70 hours (index between 11 o’clock and 12 o’clock). This marriage of high-tech materials and red gold is visually very successful.
K ROGER DUBUIS At Roger Dubuis, a manufacture specialising in skeleton movements and, it would seem, the major movement manufacturer of the Richemont Group, they are no strangers to extravagance! And they prove it once again here at Hong Kong with the world premiere of the Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument, a futuristic-looking pocket watch with a skeleton design. Its pioneering design has undeniable fascination; it could have come from another planet, imbued with supernatural functions. And yet this distillation of horological know-how fits easily into the palm of your hand, measuring just 60mm in diameter and 196mm thick. But there is nothing supernatural about the action of its RD101 calibre, with its four spiral balance wheels which allow the movement to work at the exceptional frequency of 16Hz, ensuring extreme precision.
A SCHOOL FOR LOVERS OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS… But what of Van Cleef & Arpels? Its great innovation is the opening of its travelling “school” in Hong Kong in 2014, which in 2015 posted a successful bottom line after its first year. Inaugurated in Paris and open to the general public, L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels offers anyone and everyone the key to understanding arts and crafts, art history and the techniques of watchmaking and jewellery-making. Anything but a marketing gimmick, these travelling courses are a response to the general public’s thirst to know more about this world apart. Van Cleef & Arpels was well-placed to assuage that thirst. In Asia, and in China especially, the Paris-based brand rapidly soared to a pinnacle of popularity thanks to the Pont des Amoureux watch. The couple meeting on a bridge thanks to the magic of time struck a romantic chord in China. More at: http://hk.lecolevancleefarpels.com
L VACHERON CONSTANTIN Did someone mention leaving the best till last? Whatever the case, the brand is out to please its aficionados with Les Historiques Cornes de Vaches 1955, which is powered by a 1142 hand-wound calibre housed in a 38.5mm-diameter platinum case. Baptised ‘Cornes de Vache’ in 1955 because of its distinctive cow-horn-shaped lugs, this timekeeper
embodies the singular marriage of bold design and absolute technicality. Born in the effervescent post-war years, that chronograph – melding strict classicism and fanciful design – is revisited here in the spirit of the times. Just 36 items with this reference were made between 1956 and 1966 (26 in yellow gold, 8 in red gold and just two in platinum). This exclusively produced timepiece bearing the Geneva Hallmark enriches an exceptional collection dedicated to connoisseurs which brings the legendary creations of Vacheron Constantin back to life. p
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VOICES FROM CHINA
HOW LUXURY BRANDS CAN ENSURE by Inès Lazaro, Digital Luxury Group
etween 2006 and 2015, the number of internet use rs in China has grown almost fivefold larger, from 137 to 667 million. Today, China is the country with the most netizens, more than the next two countries combined (India and the United States). Baidu, China’s largest search engine and the equivalent of Google in the Western world, sees 2.1 million luxuryrelated searches every day. Over the past 18 months, this interest in luxury brands in China has grown by 28%. Interestingly, the market slowdown that some luxury brands have experienced in China has not been reflected in Chinese consumers’ search for luxury brands online. In fact, quite the opposite. In this context, Digital Luxury Group has partnered with Baidu to better understand what exactly is inspiring and motivating the Chinese luxury consumer to spend. Findings of the analysis were presented to an audience of luxury marketers at the recent Luxury Society Keynote event in Paris in October, the highlights of which are shared with Europa Star readers here.
HOW CHINESE INTEREST IN WATCHES COMPARES WITH FASHION & JEWELLERY With a 38% increase since January 2014, ready-to-wear is the segment that has seen the highest rise in interest (over watches, jewelry and handbags). However, watches remain the most-searched luxury
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segment online and received the second strongest growth in interest over the past 18 months (+25%). Interestingly, of all the searches made for watches, the vast majority are made on a mobile device. The share of searches made on mobile is even higher for watches than the luxury industry average: 70% for watches, and 61% for the luxury industry.
The mobile share has grown significantly over the past months due to improvements made to the Chinese infrastructure, which have made it easier for users to connect all around the country. This reinforces the importance of wellthought-out mobile strategies. All too often however, luxury brands’ corporate websites do not meet the needs of the Chinese audience offering limited content, poor translation or slow loading time. With 7 out of 10 searches made from mobile, luxury brands should fully embrace mobile to deliver enhanced user experiences and truly convey their luxury identity online.
The Baidu Brand Zone, for example, allows a brand to occupy the first half of the page when users search using any keyword related to the brand. Multimedia content can be enabled and call-toactions can link back to different sections of a brand’s website or social media platforms. From observation, the Baidu Brand Zone can capture over 50% of the demand expressed online and is the best tool for brand protection. In addition to Baidu Brand Zone, there are several Baidu properties that are trusted sources of information from a user’s point of view. For example, Baidu Baike (similar to Wikipedia) which is a Baidu property that yields strong authority on search results acts as an alternative to Western websites, which might not load fast enough or propose relevant content to Chinese netizens, to provide users with qualified brand information. In order to deliver a consistent message to consumers, luxury brands not only need to focus on their own communications channels, they also need to work with Baidu and leverage its relevant properties to capture demand expressed through online search. “In China, you cannot just repurpose your pay-per-click, Google-like approach. Your search engine strategy will require you take into account Baidu properties as well as its specific advertising formats,” explains Pablo Mauron, Managing Director of Digital Luxury Group in Shanghai.
SEARCH ENGINE VISIBILITY
There are a number of differences between Google and Baidu for digital managers to take into consideration.
Chinese users rely heavily on the internet to look for information and inspiration. And while keywords directly associated
“Today 70% of all searches for luxury watches are made on a mobile device, which is higher than the luxury industry average.”
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
with the brand remain important, the DLG-Baidu research shows that Baidu users also use non-branded keywords that yield top-ranking search results featuring the brand’s products, how to wear them, specialised websites and pictures of the items. Luxury brands looking to leverage a strong content strategy should consider two important points: first, rankings are very popular in China as they comfort potential customers in their choices. Although they might not be legitimate (as any media or website can publish its own without a clear methodology), online rankings do have a significant influence. For this reason, some brands deploy new strategies to guarantee their visibility in these rankings. Second, street snaps and mix & match visuals are commonly sought after by consumers searching online for inspiration. Specialised websites that give consumers recommendations on how to wear the products are extremely popular.
“Inspirational content is required to feed a sophisticated audience.” Inspirational visual content is paramount to connect with a sophisticated audience and luxury brands are capitalising
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on it already. Louis Vuitton, for example, launched a campaign in which users searching for the Series 2 Exhibition are greeted with a large mosaic image. Furthermore, Louis Vuitton’s product content is displayed behind this image. Unlike with Google, where the results shown are more organic, in Baidu the brand has the ability to choose what results to display.
INFLUENCER MARKETING As part of their quest for inspiration, Chinese consumers also look to influencers, or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) as they’re known in China, for style advice and inspiration. KOLs play a major role in defining consumer preferences, which is reflected in the number of related searches made online. Searches for Ma Rui, a Chinese TV and radio host, have increased eightfold in the past 18 months. Unlike Western bloggers, KOLs in China focus their influence via their social media communities, on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. Luxury brands that work with KOLs can achieve impressive results, like when German fashion brand MCM recently collaborated with South Korea’s K-pop band EXO. EXO’s popularity in the China market helped to further generate visibility and awareness for the brand, which today is a fashionista favourite in major Chinese cities.
In conclusion, China has emerged as the nation with the most internet users around the globe, yet the strategies adopted by Western luxury brands are all too often mere replications of the brands’ Western way of operating. An in-depth local understanding is needed to develop specific online strategies that cater to Chinese consumer preferences. Brands will need to master visibility on Baidu but also engage potential consumers with inspirational content shared via specialised websites and platforms, their own social media channels and KOLs if they want to trigger purchase consideration. p
ABOUT THE DLG-BAIDU PARTNERSHIP Digital Luxury Group (DLG) and Baidu, China’s largest search engine, have partnered to better understand the factors driving Chinese interest in luxury brands. The data presented in this article was first shared to an audience of luxury executives at the Luxury Society event in Paris on October 8, 2015. The report incorporates results from 18 months of data (January 2014 to June 2015) and more than one billion spontaneous search queries, analysed across four segments (Watches, Ready-To-Wear, Jewellery, Bags), and including over 80 brands.
The one unmissable trendsetting show for the entire watch and jewellery industry, where all key players unite to unveil their latest creations and innovations. Be a part of this premier event and experience passion, precision and perfection in action.
MARCH 17 â€“ 24, 2016
NOT TOO NOT TOO Murky black clouds are looming over the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, and the outlook for watch sales throughout Asia remains gloomy. At least, that’s what we’re given to believe. It’s not entirely false, but it’s not entirely true either... Reading the tea leaves at the 34th Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair. by Jean-Luc Adam, Europa Star
anding at Hong Kong airport is always an experience, particularly as the plane banks over the 1268 skyscrapers of ‘Fragrant Harbour’ to plunge into the bay, whereupon the passengers are saved from the near certainty of a watery grave by the sudden appearance of the runway. Hong Kong airport, built out into the sea, is consistently rated among the best in the world for its outstanding facilities. And in fact, the airport neatly embodies all the paradoxes of Hong Kong itself: it’s a hub of frenetic busy-ness set in a mountainous landscape surrounded by the sea, where unfettered ambition is a lifestyle choice. The archipelago never stops to catch its breath, not even when Swiss watch imports fall by more than 20%, as they reportedly have in 2015. Yes, the luxury watch market is in freefall, for a number of reasons (see in-
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34TH HONG KONG WATCH & CLOCK FAIR: TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS
VOICES FROM CHINA
terview with Enders Lam), and Hong Kong has been severely affected; its market for Swiss made watches is three times greater than that of its former colonial overseer, the United Kingdom! Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to equate the watch business of Hong Kong with the fortunes of a cluster of boutiques in Kowloon or Causeway Bay; in fact it has the second-largest watch industry in the world in terms of value (USD 10.4 billion in exports in 2014), as well as the second-highest volume (315 million units), and a history that goes back to 1930. Today, many of its factories are located in the high-tech business parks of Shenzhen, its Chinese mainland neighbour. Switzerland receives the bulk of its watch exports (mainly in the form of components), which grew 3.2% between January and July 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. For Japan, Hong Kong’s 4th biggest export coun-
try, the increase was 13%. Hopes rest on the new emerging powers that are increasingly tempted by Hong Kong’s watch output, such as Mexico (+11.9%), India (+15.8%), Vietnam (+27.5%) and Indonesia (+34.9%). And finally, the sector is undergoing a radical upheaval, and the prospects are actually not too bad.
780 EXHIBITORS FROM 23 COUNTRIES In terms of skills, image and manufacturing costs, Hong Kong is probably in a better position than any other country to corner the market in a segment that is set to take off in a big way: the semi-smart fashion watch. What’s that? Unlike a smartwatch, which requires frequent recharging and whose form is dictated by its function (i.e. a screen), the semi-smart watch is a more traditional watch with a permanent time display,
no restrictions in terms of shape, colour or materials, equipped with a few highly practical smart features. What’s the advantage? The semi-smart watch is cheap, needs recharging only every 6–12 months (or never, if it’s solar powered), and won’t be immediately obsolete when the next generation comes out. The 34th Hong Kong Fair left us convinced that the semi-smart watch is the future of the entry-level segment, with brands such as Cogito, Bolda, Ezio and many more in the mix. The watchmaking world apparently agrees, with an increased number of exhibitors (780 this year compared with 765 in 2014) from 23 countries (compared with 19), some of which – India, Vietnam and Iran – are newcomers to the field. The number of buyers also easily topped 19,000, a 2% rise over last year.
OUR TOP PICKS Our favourite, out of the many semismart watches we saw, is called Kairos. This Hong Kong brand has been exhibiting prototypes since 2013, and its first very promising collection is now going to market. The time display is entrusted to a Swiss or Japanese mechanical movement (no battery) and its special window displays simple but useful functions (weather, heart rate, messaging, etc.). The watch can be customised with a range of different optional straps that may feature a curved colour screen for videos, LEDs for sports activities and even a strap that can perform electronic payments. In terms of this latter function Hong Kong has been at the forefront of developments for a long time, pioneering the Octopus card for contactless payment for a host of incidental expenses, accepted everywhere from the underground to vending machines. Another local brand, Epic, exhibited a watch that resembles a smartwatch in everything but its price (low) and water-resistance (guaranteed).
Hong Kong also witnessed the arrival of a brand globally recognised for its navigation technology, US company Garmin, which chose the fair to introduce its new Vivoactive, an ultra-lightweight GPS watch with specialised applications for a number of different sports. It can also be paired with a smartphone to receive messages and calls. In the mechanical watch sector, the dynamism and originality of Memorigin, a brand founded in 2010 by young Hong Kong entrepreneur William Chum, deserves a mention. We love it because it rewrites the rules of the luxury sector, presenting collections of highly original tourbillon watches dedicated to local heroes such as Bruce Lee, or superheroes like Iron Man. Especially for Europa Star,
Chum unveiled a breathtaking new GMT tourbillon (with glass-caged tourbillon, two hemispheres, multiple bezels and as many crystals). Another Hong Kong brand we’ll be watching very closely is Anpassa, created last year by two men (Frankie Lam and Gary Ching) and one woman (Vivien Au). Here too, the watches are driven by tourbillons assembled in Hong Kong, but the style is created by the buyers themselves, like the amazing ‘Marathon des Sables’ watch. In the more down-to-earth ranges, our preference is for the Zerone LiteQ, a pretty ladies’ watch designed by Italian stylist Chiara Moreschi, and the Compass Wristwatch by CIGA Design of Shenzhen, which won the famous Red Dot Design Award. p
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WHAT ARE THE REAL REASONS
The showcase for the higher-end brands is called the Salon de TE. Eighteen Swiss brands were present, in two groups. The Swiss Eminence Pavilion brought together brands that are well-established in Asia, such as Buler, Coinwatch, Cyma, DOXA, Enicar, Rodania and Sultana. The SIWP (Swiss Independent Watchmaking Pavilion) represents smaller independent brands looking for outlets in Asia, who until recently exhibited at Shenzhen but have now switched to Hong Kong. The reason, according to their dynamic spokesman Amarildo Pilo (of Pilo & Co.), is that “Hong Kong is growing in importance for the Swiss watch business in terms of supply and marketing.” The SIWP is also a showcase for small Swiss watch brands with big ideas: Rebellion watches (whose chain-driven T1000 continues to stop people in their tracks), WatchE (mechanical watches that look like electronic circuit boards), Pierre Thomas (reconditioned historical movements placed in magnificent watches with double-curved crystals!), David Van Heim (XXL tourbillons at an affordable price), Traser (with its photoluminescent trigalight indices in several colours), Etoile (with new men’s and ladies’ collections in ceramic), Philippe Charriol (and his trademark cable straps) and, of course, Pilo & Co., who is reviving the spirit of the ‘Cabinotiers’ of St Gervais in Geneva.
66 | VOICES FROM CHINA | europa star
34TH HONG KONG WATCH & CLOCK FAIR: INTERVIEW
18 SWISS BRANDS AT THE SALON DE TE
Enders Lam, vice-president of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and of the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers’ Association, points us towards the real reasons for the fall in luxury watch sales in Hong Kong and, by extension, China. interviewed by Jean-Luc Adam Nine out of ten watch buyers in Hong Kong come from mainland China. But people are saying that the number of Chinese tourists has fallen by 50% in the first quarter of 2015! Can you confirm this figure? I know that sales of watches over 100,000 Hong Kong dollars (approx. CHF 12,000) have fallen dramatically and, consequently, the drop in numbers of Chinese tourists could very well be greater than 50%... Are the Chinese no longer interested in buying watches in Hong Kong? As you know, China has introduced anticorruption measures that have cracked down on the purchase of luxury goods, particularly watches, intended as ‘gifts’. And the Chinese mainly buy watches to give as gifts. What type of gifts they might be, I couldn’t possibly tell you. What is beyond question, however, is that this policy has given Chinese buyers cold feet.
But the anti-corruption policy was already in effect last year! Also, as I’m sure you know, new laws in China tend to be applied strictly at first, then gradually things start to relax. Yes, in the beginning what we saw was a ‘wait and see’ attitude. But the government stood behind its policy and continued to follow through, and people eventually started to believe they meant it. It wasn’t just political grandstanding by the new president, and the Chinese people understood this. The policy was fully implemented finally in 2015. But isn’t the economic slowdown in China the main reason? I think the anti-corruption policy is the key factor. The slowdown in the Chinese economy plays a part, certainly, but to a lesser extent. The other major reason is that the Chinese are now allowed to travel to Europe – where the euro has fallen 20% and they can claim back VAT – as well as
Japan, Singapore and the United States, which has just announced tourist visas with a 10-year validity! The bureaucratic obstacles are gone, and the Chinese can now travel anywhere. In short, the sales that Hong Kong has lost out on have been picked up by other markets. You should understand, for the longest time Hong Kong was the only foreign destination that Chinese were really allowed to visit. That is no longer the case today. You forgot to mention the free trade agreement between Switzerland and China, which has equalised the retail price of watches sold in Hong Kong and on the mainland, hasn’t it? Yes, in theory. But in practice, Hong Kong remains one big duty-free zone. China still has import taxes of 12%, VAT at 17%, and a ‘Luxury Goods Tax’ on luxury items. A watch priced at USD 10,000 will
still be at least 30% cheaper here than in China. Because of this price difference Chinese visitors continue to treat themselves to jewellery, imported foodstuffs such as powdered baby milk, nice hotels, etc. That’s how it works in reality. Some brands and multi-brand shops see things differently. They display the same watches at the same price because, as you have omitted to mention, shop space in Hong Kong is horrendously expensive per square metre! Brands like Rolex effectively set a sort of international price, and don’t worry about rent differences. China, however, operates with fixed prices, plus taxes, except in certain areas such as the island of Hainan. But this applies only to items priced up to 5000 yuan (approx. CHF 700). What is more, the price of rent and office space has
AND THE WINNER IS... For the 32nd time the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and its expert jury presented awards in two categories: independents (Open Group), which were generally sponsored by companies, and students (Student Group) representing universities and colleges. The criteria were originality, creativity, aesthetics and commercial potential. Here are the results. OPEN GROUP 1st: Kwok Tung Tam, ‘Gear Track’ watch, sponsored by Wincy Horological Ltd. The guiding principle that inspired Kwok Tung Tam’s Gear Track is the pursuit of freedom and peace through tolerance. This spirit is conveyed by automatically adjusting lugs, which enable the wearer to attach different straps and insert watch cases of varying sizes. 2nd: Tang Kit Law, ‘The Messenger’, sponsored by Heromex Watch Company Ltd. This concept grew out of a dispute with another designer. Tang Kit Law exploited the incident to reflect upon the importance of mutual respect and understanding in fostering communication with others. The Messenger uses an optical illusion on the dial to create the image of a flying dove. This message of peace goes with the wearer of the watch.
come down significantly in Hong Kong. The Beijing government has apparently discouraged its citizens from visiting Hong Kong since the Umbrella Revolution, a prodemocracy student demonstration that took place in Hong Kong. It’s a kind of punishment, isn’t it? During the social uprising, and for a few months afterwards, Chinese civil servants were indeed denied visas to travel to Hong Kong, except in urgent cases. It’s true that the demonstration had an impact on the number of tourists, who probably stayed away out of fear. Nevertheless, it also attracted a fair number of Chinese who were curious to witness a major popular protest. And I can assure you, as I saw myself in the Central and Mongkok districts, the umbrella revolution was incredibly peaceful! p
3rd: Ting Bong Wong, ‘Flying Prince’, sponsored by Youngs Watch Company Ltd., Po Fai Precision Ltd. In third place is the Flying Prince, designed on the basis of a single idea: love. Although we felt the theme to be somewhat tangential to the chosen name and its design, the watch is interestingly executed with a number of unusual details, such as openwork lugs, a skeletonised dial with curved cutouts, and indices that bridge over to the case. STUDENT GROUP 1st: Cheuk Yan Chan, MIS, Hong Kong Design Institute This unusual-looking watch has a special function designed to appeal to inline skaters. When the wearer beats their own record over a particular circuit, a message is automatically transmitted to other skaters wearing the same watch. Better get your skates on... 2nd: Tung Yip Pui, ‘Lovers’, Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education This is a watch for lovers. While the first section shows the time, the second counts the time spent with your significant other, who obviously also wears a Lovers watch. The third screen is reserved for displaying special love notes. How lovely! 3rd: Po Yi Kwok, ‘Epoch’, Hong Kong Design Institute It is not always easy to match a watch with the colour of one’s outfit. This problem is immediately resolved by a selection of interchangeable one-piece straps, which can quickly be attached to the case without the need for special tools.
| VOICES FROM CHINA | 67
DISPLAYS An increasing number of watchmakers are designing watches without hands. The WAG watchmaking association has selected some of the best examples for its ‘Spectacular Displays’ exhibition. by Denis Asch, Sophy Rindler, Philippe Sitbon, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht
ow do you define a ‘spectacular display’? By our definition, it displays the hours or minutes, and sometimes the seconds, without using the rather conventional traditional hands. Up to 1883 all time display was ‘trailing’, because it was far easier to manage a constant and quasi-linear deployment of energy. That year marked an epoch in watchmaking history: the hour became ‘jumping’. The first patent for a digital display [Editor’s note: a display that shows the time in figures] with
F.P. Journe F.P. Journe 4N DeWitt
Romain Jerome Vincent Calabrese Azimuth De Grisogono
De Bethune Nord Zeitmaschine Cyrus
68 | ANALYSIS | europa star
jumping hours was registered by Josef Pallweber of Austria, whose movements were subsequently used by IWC. In the 20th century new alloys brought with them greater precision and lightness, and that included the balance spring. Today, energy management is still something that gives watchmakers a headache. They generally play around with the same basic principles: a barrel for the energy source, a gear train for transmission, an escapement and balance wheel for regulation, plus a tick and a tock. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, spectacular displays have taken off into another dimension. We have a number of ingenious designers, and innovative and creative independent brands, which have made the most of current technological advances. These are some of the mechanical models with the most spectacular displays. ¨They reflect the extraordinary creativity of the watchmakers, whose timepieces have to be equipped with special movements, each individually designed to incorporate the desired display. Producing
these movements generally requires a breathtaking degree of watchmaking know-how. Let’s start with the digital display watches: F.P. Journe’s Vagabondage I displays its digital jumping hours in an aperture that wanders around the edge of the dial, pointing to the minutes. The mainspring barrel of F.P. Journe’s Vagabondage II, meanwhile, was specially designed along with the constant force device to harness energy perfectly to trigger the jumping hours and minutes. Such watchmaking prowess is exceptionally rare. Here are two models where use of the word ‘spectacular’ is fully justified. The 4N MVT01, with its 10 astonishingly precise revolving discs; DeWitt and its Academia Mathematical, in which the hours and minutes come to life, emerging from a cascade of figures. Some watchmakers, however, have opted for a dual digital and analogue display [Editor’s note: where the time is indicated by hands] in some of their models. These include Romain Jerome’s Spacecraft,
which provides a jumping hours indicator with retrograde action and an analogue minutes display, and Vincent Calabrese who reverses this setup in his Sun-Tral, placing the digital hour in the centre with minutes around the outside of the dial. Azimuth opts in its hand-wound Spaceshift Predator for a dual display: jumping hours are indicated on a satellite disc through an aperture on the minutes hand. De Grisogono’s Meccanico DG displays a second time zone on its digital mechanical version via a ballet of 23 cams that activate micro-segments. The De Bethune Dreamwatch 5 also uses a dual display in an aerodynamic case. Nord Zeitmaschine has designed the fastest minutes hand in the world, with a three-tier system to tell the time, while the QuickIndicator displays the hours digitally. Cyrus’s three-dimensional retrograde analogue display in its Klepsys model is highly original and genuinely easy to read, as is Andersen’s Montre à Tact Rousseau, which uses a dual hour/ minute display, one on the dial and the other on the case at 6 o’clock. And we cannot leave out Audemars Piguet’s celebrated Starwheel, which displays the time by means of three sapphire discs
that show the hour and minutes simultaneously. The hours are printed on rotating discs attached to ‘star wheels’ which pivot around a central ring. Thomas Prescher, in his MAD, plays with transparency and space: in addition to a digital display mounted on rollers, the watch also contains a dual-axis tourbillon. The LaFerrari by Hublot with its four cylinders – two for the hour display, one for the 50-day power reserve and one for the seconds – cannot help but attract superlatives. Its motor harnesses the power of eleven barrels to drive a vertical flying tourbillon. Hautlence innovates with its HL2.2 model. The Rebellion T1000 Gotham Watch also features a rollerbased time display, a voluminous complication that contributes to its generous size. The hour display of Christophe Claret’s DualTow is inspired by caterpillar tracks. Its two parallel notched rubber belts are driven by two cylinders located on each side of the watch. And here, in conclusion, is a look at the more whimsical displays. There is the Upside Down by Ludovic Ballouard, all of whose numerals are inverted, except for the current hour; the Inti by Frederic Jouvenot with sun rays to indicate the hour of the day or night. In the poetic Papillon by Andreas Strehler, hours
ABOUT THE WAG The WAG was created in 2014 in Geneva by Philippe Sitbon and Sophy Rindler, to encapsulate the principle that watchmaking is the ‘12th Art’. Master watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht agreed to lend his patronage, thus taking the association to another level. The trio was subsequently joined by watchmaker Denis Asch, who added his cutting-edge technological abilities to the mix, with the aim of making the WAG a standard-bearer for the 12th Art. Together, they set out precise criteria to define what they believed constituted watchmaking excellence, and consequently the essence of the Art of Watchmaking. The first of these criteria is a spectacular display, some examples of which are presented in this article.
and minutes appear on two independent discs, each of which has its own barrel. Last but not least, the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock, which won the Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, with a new and spectacular time display (see more about this model on page 16). Hours are read at the winding crown at three o’clock by means of a mother-of-pearl band that rotates counter-clockwise, whilst the minutes are indicated by the fanning tail feathers of a carved peacock, sitting in the bottom left corner. Each of the peacock’s four tail feathers moves simultaneously but at different speeds. p
Andersen Audemars Piguet Thomas Prescher Hublot
Hautlence Rebellion Christophe Claret Ludovic Ballouard
Frederic Jouvenot Andreas Strehler Fabergé
| ANALYSIS | 69
ROLEX ENCYCLOPEDIA (REF 12003)
This new publication is focused on the Submariner, Submariner Date, Sea-Dweller and Deep Sea models and illustrates the various marks and corresponding serial numbers, all the dial variants and copious details for each piece that is presented: the case number, the bracelet and its references, the winding crown, the case back, the dial and the calibre with the respective years of production and the various references upon which it could have been mounted. Collecting Rolex Submariner also provides a chronological table of production that allows collectors to look up the year of production of their watch. Italian and English versions, publication date: October 2015
• Colour ill. • Format : 25.5 x 31.5 cm • Price: CHF 790.00 | €790.00
THE WATCH BOOK (REF 11118) by Gisbert Brunner and Christian Pfeiffer-Belli
In The Watch Book, readers can feast their eyes and minds on a magnificentlyillustrated and well-documented chronicle of the world’s best timepieces. After a brief discussion on the meaning of time and its measurement by ticking sets of gears and hands, we delve into 18 premium manufacturers, including Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Cartier. These biographies of the most important
70 | TO READ… | europa star
names in top-end timekeeping trace the progressive development from their earliest days right up to the latest innovations and current models.
DE/EN/FR • 256 pages • 250 colour photos • Format: 25 x 32 cm • Price: CHF 88.00 | €79.00
ZENITH, THE STORY OF A WATCH MANUFACTURE UNDER A GUIDING STAR
Written as a type of intimate journal combining childhood memories with those of a young apprentice and all the experience he gained from his fascinating encounters, this book is above all a testimony to the birth of a passion placed at the service of the brand.
English version • 128 pages • Colour & b/w ill. • Format: 19 x 19 cm • Price: CHF 58.00 | €58.00 (Free shipping on this book)
(REF 11117) by Joel Duval
This book offers a fabulous history of Zenith since its creation in 1865, in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking region at an unprecedented price for all watch lovers! Since its inception, Zenith has produced more than 10 million watches, invented more than 500 movements and accumulated more than 2333 prizes – a world record. Unlike many other houses, Zenith remained a factory. It celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015.
English Edition 448 Pages • Colour ill. • Format : 25 x 33 cm • Price: CHF 100.00 | €100.00
BREGUET, THE STORY OF A PASSION 1973 – 1987 (REF 11057) by François Bodet (as told to Françoise Favre)
This book was intended to serve as an account of the successive stages and means that led to the spectacular revival of an emblematic name in watchmaking: Breguet.
BRIDGING ART AND MECHANICS, THE UNABRIDGED STORY OF CORUM’S GOLDEN BRIDGE (REF 11061) by Elizabeth Doerr Despite its trademark transparency, the Corum Golden Bridge is a wristwatch full of mystery. This new book describes the iconic linear timepiece’s fascinating history including the innovative mechanical invention conceived by a nonconformist autodidact and the difficult technical breakthroughs by two like-minded personalities needed to achieve the dream wristwatch.
140 Pages • Colour ill. • Format: 22 x 31 cm • Price: CHF 85.00 | €85.00
Crown Royal headgear or watch winder? Discover the world of Fine Watchmaking at www.hautehorlogerie.org
Crown | The winding crown is a knurled or fluted button of various shapes, held between the thumb and forefinger and used to wind the watch. Some crowns incorporate a mobile pushbutton for operating a chronograph mechanism or to release the cover of a hunter case.
THE FOUNDATION’S PARTNERS | A. LANGE & SÖHNE | AUDEMARS PIGUET | BAUME & MERCIER | BOVET 1822 | CARTIER | CHANEL | CHOPARD | CHRISTOPHE CLARET DE BETHUNE | GIRARD-PERREGAUX | GREUBEL FORSEY | HERMÈS | IWC | JAEGER-LECOULTRE | LOUIS VUITTON | MB&F | MONTBLANC | OFFICINE PANERAI PARMIGIANI FLEURIER | PIAGET | RALPH LAUREN | RICHARD MILLE | ROGER DUBUIS | TAG HEUER | VACHERON CONSTANTIN | VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
EDITORIAL & ADVERTISERS’ INDEX
CHANGE. YOU CAN.
A. Lange & Söhne COVER I (Europe), 6, 12, 14, 15, 49, 56 Agenhor 18 Andersen 69 Andreas Strehler 69 Anpassa 65 Apple 8 Armani 13 Auctionata 9 Audemars Piguet 18, 20, 56, 69 Azimuth 69 Baidu 60, 62 Baselworld 18, 25, 49, 63 Baume & Mercier 56 Bell & Ross 13 Blancpain 49 Bolda 65 Breguet 49, 70 Bucherer 48 Buler 66 Bvlgari 6, 41 Cabestan 26 Carl F. Bucherer 11, 48 Cartier 12, 57, 70 Casio 6, 51, 52, 53 Ciga Design 65 Citizen 73 Chanel 6, 13, 40 China Watch & Clock Fair 44 Chow Tai Fook 13 Christie’s 9 Christophe Claret 13, 69 Cogito 65 Coinwatch 66 Corum 70 Cyma 66 Cyrus 69 David Van Heim 66 De Bethune 69 De Grisogono 6, 45, 69
Deloitte 8 Devon 10 DeWitt 68 Digital Luxury Group 60, 62 Doxa 66 Enicar 66 Epic 65 Ernest Borel 27 Etoile 66 Ezio 65 Fabergé 6, 18, 20, 69 Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie 48, 49, 56, 71 F.P. Journe 68 Frederic Jouvenot 69 Frédérique Constant 10 Garmin 65 Gemfields 18 Google 60, 62 Greubel Forsey 8, 9, 31 Gucci 6, 43 Hamilton 35 Harrods 20 Harry Winston 6, 18, 39 Hautlence 25, 26, 69 Hermès 5, 6, 42 H. Moser & Cie 13 Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 6, 64, 65, 66, 67 Hublot 49, 69 Hübner 6, 49 Ice-Watch 72 Inhorgenta 6, 54, 55 IWC 6, 44, 57 Jaeger-LeCoultre 49, 50, 57 Jowissa 12 Kairos 65 Kirchhofer 24 La Fabrique du Temps 22 Les Ambassadeurs 24
Louis Erard 10 Louis Vuitton 6, 7, 22, 23, 60 Ludovic Ballouard 69 Luminox 12 Manufacture Royale 6, 24, 25 MB&F 26, 31, 13 MCM 60 MCT 6, 25, 26 Meccaniche Veloci 6, 36, 37 Memorigin 65 Microsoft 8 Montblanc 58 Mondaine 12 Nordschleife 9 Nord Zeitmaschine 69 Nomos 49 Orient 61 Pallinghurst Resources 18 Panerai 13, 58 Parmigiani Fleurier 4 Patek Philippe COVER IV, 4, 8, 9, 70 Philippe Charriol 66 Piaget 6, 38, 58 Pierre Thomas 66 Pilo & Co. 12, 66 Prada 13 Raidillon 6, 34, 35 Raymond Weil 6, 32, 33 Rebellion 66, 69 Richard Mille 12, 56, 59 Richemont 56 RJ-Romain Jerome COVER I (International), 6, 16, 17, 25, 68 Rodania 66 Roger Dubuis 59 Roger W. Smith 9 Rolex 9, 35, 48, 70 Salon de TE 66
Seiko COVER III SIHH 6, 56 SIWP 66 Sotheby’s 9 Sowind Group 48 Speake-Marin 6, 30, 31 Sultana 66 Swatch 12, 48 Swatch Group 12 Swiss Eminence Pavilion 66 TAG Heuer 13, 35 TEC Ebauches 24, 25 Thomas Prescher 69 Tiffany & Co. 12 Timebox 12 Tissot 19 Titoni 21 Tokyoflash 10 Traser 66 Tudor 35 Ulysse Nardin 33, 49 Urwerk 25, 26 Vacheron Constantin COVER II, 3, 4, 6, 13, 28, 29, 49, 59 Van Cleef & Arpels 18, 20, 59 Vaucher Manufacture 20 Vincent Calabrese 69 Voutilainen 31 WAG 69 WatchE 66 Watches of Switzerland 13 Watches & Wonders 6, 56, 57, 58, 59 Watchprint 70 WeChat 60 Weibo 60 Wenger 12 Zenith 70 Zerone 65 4N 68
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SURVEYS by D. Malcolm Lakin
f you are a regular reader of our magazine or a visitor to the Europa Star website, you may have participated in our recent Reader Survey and/ or read about the results. The aim of most surveys is to find out what people think about a particular political party, a potentially delicate international situation, pure market research for an as yet unknown product or, as in the case of our survey, to obtain a profile of the readership and whether or not they are satisfied with the magazine’s content – with the possibility to make suggestions as to how to improve it. The results can be found on pages 10-11 in our September issue. Question 14, which was the last in our survey was: Do you have any recommendations to improve the magazine? We received many positive replies and suggestions with just one from a gentleman in Hypoluxo, Florida, who replied, and I quote, “Stop Larkin. His prose is turgid. He is not funny.” The only Larkin I know is the poet and novelist Philip Larkin, but since he died in 1985 I assumed the reference was to my ‘Lakin at Large’ articles on the last page of the magazine. Naturally I was disappointed, but humour is capricious, what’s funny to some is unfunny to others, you smile, laugh out loud or, in this case, find it ‘turgid’. But turgid? I have always tried to make the articles lighthearted and, as I thought, easy to read but never sesquipedalian, magniloquent or fustian. Now I’m being turgid. The thing about surveys is that they inevitably reveal unusual and intriguing results.
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For example, when Bill Clinton was still in his presidency and not long after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a survey was carried out that asked 1000 women whether or not they would sleep the President. The result: 1% said ‘Yes’; 2% said ‘No’ and 97% said ‘Never again!’ I recently participated in a telephone survey after a charming lady at the other end of the line convinced me it would take just a few minutes. Nearly half an hour later, having answered to the best of my ability all the meandering questions aimed at discovering my taste in tea, coffee and a variety of packaged food, the last question was: what was my age group? Then came the bombshell: “I’m sorry sir, you’re too old for the survey.” My immediate reaction was annoyance at having wasted so much time at achieving nothing, but suppressing my venom I asked why she hadn’t started with that question. Her reply was, “You sounded much younger.” There’s not much you can say to that is there? Type in ‘surveys’ on the internet and you’ll discover an amazing array of real and phoney reviews. One doubtful survey I found was supposedly carried out in the USA and concerned the various reasons men get out of bed in the middle of the night. According to the report, 2% are motivated by a desire to visit the bathroom, 3% have an urge to raid the refrigerator and the 95% balance claimed it was to go home. All of which reminds me of the old story (I apologise if you’ve already heard it) about a student who decided to conduct a survey to discover favourite pastimes.
He began his survey at a block of apartments close to his university, knocked on the first door and when a man answered he explained about his survey and asked his name and what was his favourite pastime. “My name is John and I like watching bubbles in the bath.” The student thanked him and despite the odd answer moved on to the next apartment. Again a man answered and he asked the same question. The man replied, “I’m Brian and my favourite pastime is watching bubbles in the bath.” After two more replies giving the same answer, the student, somewhat surprised and more than a little bemused, left the building, crossed the road and knocked on the door of a very modern glass-fronted house. He rang the doorbell and a very attractive blonde opened the door. He explained the point of his survey and asked her name. “Bubbles!” Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you – unless, that is, you come from Hypoluxo in Florida. p
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