Get con­nected to the new­found em­brace of smartwatches.

WHAT WE LEARNT FROM SIT­TING DOWN WITH THE SWISS GI­ANT’S GEN­ERAL MAN­AGER, GUY SÉMON.

GQ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

The com­pe­ti­tion

“Who is the big­gest watch­maker at Basel Fair? Sam­sung is the big­gest watch­maker. I met the num­ber-two of Sam­sung and said, ‘Hello col­league.’ He is a very se­ri­ous Korean man and said, ‘Col­league? But you are a watch­maker.’ And I said, ‘But so are you and you are big­ger than Rolex.’ He was so proud.”

The be­gin­ning

“We launched our ‘Con­nected’ watch two years ago [which sold a re­ported 56,000 units] and with that model we are just a sec­ond step but the stair­way is prob­a­bly 15-20 steps. This is the be­gin­ning. Now the con­cept of mod­u­lar­ity starts with the con­nected watch but we are dif­fer­ent to the smart­watch mak­ers from China, Ja­pan and Cal­i­for­nia. We mix clas­sic watch­mak­ing with our work. And be­cause we are the big­gest man­u­fac­tur­ers of tour­bil­lon move­ments, I made one [the Heuer-02t] for this.”

The in­spi­ra­tion

“It’s a very sim­ple idea [be­hind the Mod­u­lar mod­els] I had, be­cause my son is 23 and he bought a Mini car. I vis­ited a Mini bou­tique in Paris and it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence. You can choose from the yel­low, pur­ple, pink or the Union Jack to make your car. I thought that we could ap­ply this prin­ci­pal to watch­mak­ing. When I talked to Mini’s store man­ager, he said that most peo­ple end up buy­ing a black, grey or white car but it’s the ex­pe­ri­ence that’s im­por­tant.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence

“Take a look at the booths at Basel and the Sam­sung one is open, you can touch and ex­pe­ri­ence the prod­ucts. The rest are closed, with all the prod­ucts be­hind locked doors and vis­i­tors need­ing a pass to be ad­mit­ted. The men­tal­ity of those from Korea, China, Ja­pan and Cal­i­for­nia is open-minded. We are closed and that’s a dan­ger for the busi­ness.”

The fu­ture

“Look at the young gen­er­a­tion be­tween 15 and 30 and show me the ones who are wear­ing a watch? There’s no­body ex­cept maybe at a watch fair like Basel. We’re build­ing a busi­ness not for to­day but for the next 10 years. In the next 10 years Swiss watch­mak­ing will be in­te­grated or in a mu­seum.”

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