Right on time
Maurice Lacroix embraces the charm of traditional Swiss watch-making but also keeps a close watch on new ideas when it comes to innovation, design and marketing.
MAURICE Lacroix is a relatively young watch brand, having first come into existence only in 1975. Since the 90s, however, it has been asserting its presence in worldwide luxury markets thanks to its complex movements, innovative designs and creative marketing techniques.
Earlier this year, Maurice Lacroix chief executive officer – 46-year-old Martin Bachmann – shared how, together with his management team, he hopes to continue employing the successful strategies which have enabled the watch brand to keep up with other Swiss manufacture companies.
Having worked outside of Switzerland for the last decade, forming what he calls “a bag of experiences”, Bachmann has gained a realisation of various mentalities around the world and is in a unique position to listen to the demands of customers.
“My time in Asia particularly prepared me well to find the bridge between the two worlds I must operate within – clearly selling watches in Asia and designing them in Europe – these are two different worlds,” says Bachmann in an interview at Baselworld 2011 watch fair in Switzerland. “On one hand, we are educating the consumers of the intricacies of the Swiss brand of watch-making; while on the other, we are also making our industry aware of the needs of the world.”
Here, Bachmann further expounds on what makes Maurice Lacroix tick. A CEO on YouTube! How did that happen?
We are a brand that is very transparent; we’re happy and proud to show our factory and the way we produce our watches. We want to be approachable. Sometimes the luxury industry has an aura of aloofness and we want to contradict that. That’s how the idea for the CEO Dialogs (a campaign featuring Bachmann himself answering questions from customers all over the world) came about ... the idea was for us to really communicate with our customers and fans. A second reason is that the Internet allows us to interact a lot more quickly. For instance, on our Facebook fan page (facebook.com/mauricelacroixwatches) we get questions and I can immediately answer the consumers rather than having to go through different channels. Thirdly, it is also a cost-efficient way of communication. Has the CEO Dialog series been effective?
We started on Facebook with zero fans. Today more than 48,000 “like” the page. But it has been effective not just because of the number of fans. We really have a lot of interaction and get a lot of reaction from the public. People are noticing that something is being done in a different way from other brands, and we take that very positively. How do your designers operate?
Our theme this year for Maurice Lacroix is Never Stop Moving and this is also the driving force of developing ourselves to be inspired from many different directions, in innovation and research for the next beautiful watch.
Design is certainly an important topic and we also try to find different design directions. For example, through our collaboration with Wallpaper* magazine earlier this year, we were able to identify three specialists in different fields – architecture, interior design and fashion – who gave us insights on how they think and approach the design of an object. This was very beneficial to the work we do.
(Maurice Lacroix approached Wallpaper* last year with the idea of collaboration to reinterpret the brand’s iconic Pontos Décentrique GMT watch. They then asked an influential trio – Spanish furniture designer Patricia Urquiola, Italian architect Rodolfo Dordoni, and Belgian fashion designer Kris Van Assche – to reimagine the Swiss watchmaker’s Red Dot award-winning timepiece with their own one-off designs which were launched at the Baselworld 2011 watch fair in March. The watches were later auctioned and proceeds donated to different charities.)
As for our local design team in Switzerland, their inspiration doesn’t just come from within the industry. They have their own ideas, but they also look left and right; they, too, look at cars, fashion and architecture. When it comes to choices of materials or developments in technology, these are all sources of inspiration for them. Does Maurice Lacroix uphold the Swiss traditions of watch-making?
We are a relatively young brand but nevertheless we subscribe to the standards of the Swiss watch industry, and follow a lot of the heritage in terms of the craftsmanship of our watches and the decorations we apply. But we interpret these in a very contemporary way. We try to work with colours, for instance, more rhodium and brash materials rather than the more classical elegant executions of some other brands. So, in terms of quality craftsmanship, we are totally in line with the heritage of this industry. But in terms of functionality and design, we try to push the borders a bit into the present and future. Your ambassadors are out of the ordinary. Can you elaborate on their relevance to the brand?
There is a strong tendency for all watch brands to show the most beautiful face or famous actor from around the world, but we are not quite sure what the message with that is. I have often quizzed people familiar with the industry – I give them three beautiful actresses and three watch brands and three CEOs, and ask them to match them all together but they almost never get it right. Why? Because they are all pretty, they are all successful, and they all stand for glamour and beauty.
What we try to do is go just a little beyond this and talk about the story behind the