The dis­ci­pline of real lux­ury

Emirates Woman - - #audemarspiguet - WORDS: CARLO SPED ROZ A

In a rare face-to-face in­ter­view with the head of one of the most suc­cess­ful watch brands in the world, we sit with Jas­mine Aude­mars to talk about lux­ury, the watch in­dus­try, and how off­line and on­line will live and evolve to­gether

Since 1992, the great-grand­daugh­ter of Jules Louis Aude­mars, Jas­mine Aude­mars, has been the chair­woman of the Board of Direc­tors for Aude­mars Piguet. She is a pow­er­house who stud­ied eco­nom­ics at the age of 16 to then be­come deputy edi­tor of a ma­jor Swiss news­pa­per at the age of 29 and soon af­ter, the edi­tor in chief. For 12 years she was a hard-core jour­nal­ist un­til her fa­ther asked her to take his place at the ven­er­ated Aude­mars Piguet man­u­fac­turer. At 77, she’s not only the head of the com­pany, but a dy­namic force of na­ture with pro­found in­sights and knowl­edge on lux­ury, the watch sec­tor and the tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion around the in­dus­try. Al­ways dis­creet and peren­ni­ally el­e­gant, she can speak at great length about the tech­ni­cal fea­tures of a con­cept watch, the pros and cons of the smart­watch trend and at the same time, over­see­ing mul­ti­ple projects from re­search and de­vel­op­ment to hu­man­i­tar­ian and so­cial ini­tia­tives spon­sored by her fam­ily name ven­tures. Jas­mine Aude­mars is a wo­man we deeply ad­mire

The in­dus­try has faced many chal­lenges over the years for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. And Aude­mars Piguet has been able to be on top of that.

Yes, we have been lucky to sail safely through these bumpy times.

What are the pil­lars that al­lows Aude­mars Piguet to nav­i­gate these ups and downs?

The main thing is to be a fam­ily com­pany. That’s the big ad­van­tage, be­cause we al­ways have a long-term vi­sion and through our his­tory we know that there will al­ways be dif­fi­cult times. It’s never go­ing to be par­adise all the time. We are ready to face these dif­fi­cult times. We’ve been ed­u­cated for that. The main thing is to keep our long-term strat­egy. For in­stance, we de­cided to cap our pro­duc­tion to 45,000 watches per year and we are stick­ing to that for the time-be­ing and we fo­cus on qual­ity, ex­clu­siv­ity, work­ing with our bou­tiques and some very, very good part­ners to get closer to our cus­tomers. It’s very im­por­tant to have a real link with our cus­tomers. And to al­ways have a very thin in­ven­tory: to have very healthy fi­nances and to keep a bal­ance be­tween the dif­fer­ent re­gions of the world. For in­stance, we have a very good bal­ance be­tween Europe and Asia or the US and the Mid­dle East and we must never get car­ried on into one sin­gle mar­ket. We have been very happy with the 2015 and 2016 re­sults and 2017 was a great year too. And we are op­ti­mistic for 2018 but are al­ways re­al­is­tic by stick­ing to our long-term strate­gies and not get­ting car­ried away by our own suc­cess.

In re­cent decades, there have been sev­eral group con­sol­i­da­tions on Richemont, Swatch, LVMH and a lot of in­de­pen­dent brands be­ing ab­sorbed by cor­po­rate en­ti­ties. Aude­mars Piguet must be a very de­sir­able brand for many of these groups. How do you man­age to stay fully in­de­pen­dent?

As long as we are very healthy fi­nan­cially and we can have a sound and steady de­vel­op­ment we will stay in­de­pen­dent. We are all pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted to the brand. And we are in Le Bras­sus and in the Val­lée

Du Joux and we have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity for the re­gion and for the peo­ple that works for us. So, for us, be­ing in­de­pen­dent is the main ob­jec­tive.

In terms of dis­tri­bu­tion, we’ve seen the rise of the smart­watch seg­ment and also the con­sol­i­da­tion of the In­ter­net as a for­mal dis­tri­bu­tion point, ei­ther with strate­gic niche part­ners or with an in-house e-com­merce oper­a­tion. Where does Aude­mars Piguet stands on these new dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels?

We are study­ing it very closely. It is an im­por­tant trend but we have to be care­ful. There’s no need for us to be pioneers in this new world, so we are study­ing it and maybe some­thing will hap­pen one time or another. We are not against it – we know it’s a trend and we know it’s com­ing. You have to find the right way to do e-com­merce be­cause oth­er­wise you can dam­age the brand and make cus­tomers very an­gry.

Au de mars Pigu et has a very im­por­tant lever­age in terms of pro­duc­tion with Aude­mars Piguet Re­naud & Papi. It’s a very im­pres­sive lab­o­ra­tory for ideas. What’s the scope of Au de mars Pigu et Re­naud& Pa pi for Au de mars Pigu et and what’ s its im­por­tance for the over­all busi­ness?

It’s very im­por­tant be­cause they have devel­oped very in­ter­est­ing things in the past for us and they still do. I think we want for them to be creative and come up with ideas. This is our think tank, our lab­o­ra­tory, if you like. We are not go­ing to tell them what they have to do. It’s very im­por­tant to let them de­liver their own ideas and then we dis­cuss it with them. It’s a two-way street.

Can we talk about Richard Mil le?

Of course! Richard Mille is a part­ner and Aude­mars Piguet Re­naud & Papi work a lot for him. We are very happy to have that part­ner­ship with Richard Mille be­cause he is very suc­cess­ful. He re­ally has cre­ated a great brand.

Aude­mars Piguet started to sup­port Richard Mille al­most at the be­gin­ning of the brand. How do you or the board of Au de mars Pigu et in­ter­act with Richard Mil le?

In the past, a few times Richard Mille gave us ad­vice in cer­tain watches so we are al­ways ready to work with him. We have a great re­la­tion­ship and wear ev­ery happy. What he does is just amaz­ing.

High-end watches best rep­re­sent the lux­ury in­dus­try. But lux­ury be­gan a mas­si­fi­ca­tion process a few years ago, es­pe­cially in terms of fash­ion and ac­ces­sories – which con­fused the cus­tomer as to what real lux­ury is. How would you de­fine what real lux­ury now?

If you want to be abran din the real lux­ury world, you have to be ex­clu­sive. And as a def­i­ni­tion, I like the one from Karl Lager­feld, when he said that lux­ury is a dis­ci­pline. You have to be dis­ci­plined if you want to be a gen­uine lux­ury brand. It’s very easy to make a very ex­pen­sive watch if you put one ton of diamonds around it, but for me that’s not a lux­ury watch, it’s an ex­pen­sive watch.

This year at the Salon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie Genève was the first time a con­cept watch was pre­sented di­rectly for a wo­man’s col­lec­tion. Can yous­peak­tothat?

This year we have two mod­els, the Royal Oak open worked and the con­cept. It is a new ter­ri­tory for us. We are ex­plor­ing and we think there are cus­tomers for this kind of prod­uct. It is a very ex­cit­ing chal­lenge for us.

You were for­merly a news jour­nal­ist. Has this given you a unique per­spec­tive on the in­dus­try in terms of the mar­ket­ing and con­tent? And how do you think the off-line and on­line worlds are evolv­ing?

I think both worlds will live to­gether. Print is not dead, def­i­nitely not. But print will have to adapt and the dig­i­tal world also, be­cause it con­stantly changes. We even have new print pub­li­ca­tions now. In France, they just launched a new weekly. I’m not pes­simistic but the way things work def­i­nitely has changed. Un­for­tu­nately, for the time-be­ing, most me­dia have less time and space to write in-depth sto­ries; it’s very fast-paced and this is not ideal. I think we will be back to more anal­y­sis and more in-depth sto­ries, rather than be­ing bom­barded all day long with break­ing news.

You are very in­volved with the Fon­da­tion de la Haute H or log erie. Can you tell us about that?

We have a board at the foun­da­tion and we have a cer­tain num­ber of meet­ings dur­ing the year. We have a gen­eral sec­re­tary that stud­ies all the projects and eval­u­ates fi­nanc­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have to be very selec­tive and stick to the goals of the foun­da­tion. So far, we have been able to fi­nance over 80 projects in 40 coun­tries. We have been all around the world with the ex­cep­tion of Aus­tralia. One day we may find a pro­ject down there.

Aude­mars Piguet has been very in­volved with Art Basel and other art projects. Are you also in­volved in these pro­ject­stoo?

No, Olivier Aude­mars, the vice-chair­man is very much in­volved as a mem­ber of the art com­mis­sion. He is our in-house spe­cial­ist. But for us, it’s a very in­ter­est­ing trend. The world of art can bring us a lot of things. It can help us to see things dif­fer­ently, even about the re­gion we live in. For ex­am­ple, to have the pic­tures of Dan Holdsworth, was for us some­thing very new and now we see our own re­gion in a dif­fer­ent way.

Go­ing back to the smart­watch busi­ness, some com­pa­nies have jumped onto the trend right away, like Tag Heuer. And they are mak­ing a good profit out of it. Some peo­ple think that the user ex­pe­ri­ence is not yet enough to be part of the high-end watches seg­ment. What are your thoughts?

We are only at the be­gin­ning of the smart­watches trend. They have a few weak­nesses like bat­tery life, the OS ob­so­les­cence (which is the big topic now) but things will change any­way. It is another world and at least for the time-be­ing it’s not a world for Aude­mars Piguet. But in the end, I think both worlds will live to­gether.

There are three pil­lars in the cur­rent col­lec­tion: Royal Oak, Mil­lenary and Jules Au de mars. The last is tra­di­tional with ex­cel­lent crafts­man­ship and high com­pli­ca­tions. This year there wasn’ t a Jules Au de mars launch…

Not yet. We al­ways have projects in the pipe­line and we don’t launch all our prod­ucts at Salon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie.

Above: Jas­mineAude­mars has­been­the chair­wom­anofthe Board­ofDirec­tors forAude­marsPiguet since1992

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.