Right on time

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRENDS - By ANN MARIE CHANDY star2@thes­tar.com.my

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

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