Jérôme Biard, CEO of Corum

Prestige Hong Kong - Tic Talk - - PEOPLE | INSIDE VIEW -

What will be your fo­cus for Corum in 2018 and be­yond?

First of all, I’ll be lis­ten­ing to ma­jor play­ers in­volved in Corum – staff, clients, sup­pli­ers, press – and sec­ond, I’ll be work­ing out what the brand’s pri­or­i­ties are and how to im­ple­ment them. Ul­ti­mately, my fo­cus will be “less is more”.

What were some of the stand­out mo­ments for Corum in the last year? This year has been a strong one in terms of cre­ativ­ity, as ev­i­denced by the up­dat­ing of the Bub­ble watches – in­clud­ing The Girl with the Pearl Bub­ble by pho­tog­ra­pher Juli­ette Jour­dain – which rep­re­sented a great part­ner­ship for us with some tal­ented artists. We have also been fo­cus­ing on small VIP events or­gan­ised for our Golden Bridge line and haute hor­logerie time­pieces. We had an ex­traor­di­nar­ily good re­sponse from clients in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Tai­wan, Thai­land and the US.

The launch of the Golden Bridge Round in late 2016 en­coun­tered great suc­cess with a sell- through rate of al­most 100 per­cent in cer­tain coun­tries – al­most un­heard of th­ese days.  This demon­strates that de­spite the dif­fi­cult eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, there is still po­ten­tial for brands like us to suc­ceed.

Which time­piece have you worn most this year and what makes it so unique? I like to wear the Golden Bridge Round and the Ad­mi­ral Leg­end 42mm in rose gold. Both of th­ese watches are iconic and of great value to Corum.

What fac­tors en­sure a watch re­tains its pop­u­lar­ity over the years? Qual­ity and per­ceived value, mer­chan­dis­ing on the point of sales, plus con­ti­nu­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity in the prod­ucts and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy.

How much of an im­pact has the tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion had on your busi­ness in the past 12 months?

We be­lieve smart watches are def­i­nitely not for Corum at this stage and our hu­mor­ous an­swer was pre­sented at Basel­world with Bub­ble Dis­con­nected. I don’t be­lieve that smart watches will be quite so pop­u­lar in the fu­ture. The wrist will be free again for clas­sic time­pieces. Nev­er­the­less, we have to bet­ter un­der­stand that our clients’ mind­set changes faster now than it did, say, 30 years ago.

To get the younger gen­er­a­tion on board, are there any spe­cific strate­gies aimed at the youth mar­ket for 2018? So­cial me­dia is def­i­nitely a tool in which we need to in­vest. We’ve also stud­ied the suc­cess of bud­get watches such as Daniel Wellington and Kick­starter brands build­ing a group of afi­ciona­dos, just like Pan­erai some years ago. Be­side the Bub­ble watch, we will launch a Corum e- bou­tique in 2018 aimed at the younger gen­er­a­tion.

What are you most ex­cited about for 2018 – any upcoming events, re­leases and ru­mours that have got you feel­ing ex­cited?

At the be­gin­ning of 2018, we will launch an­other col­lab­o­ra­tion watch to sup­port our Golden Bridge line. The watch will re­flect our phi­los­o­phy and ap­proach at Corum in a mod­ern, clas­si­cal style. There was plenty go­ing on at the end of 2017, too: we launched Iguana Yachts last Septem­ber [ with the French boat builder of the same name], and a new Ad­mi­ral will ad­di­tion­ally be pre­sented at the end of this year. What’s your opin­ion on the new “Swiss Made” rule im­ple­mented in Jan­uary 2017?

The Swiss Made 60 per­cent rule is an im­por­tant step in the right di­rec­tion. We also have to keep in mind that 100 per­cent Swiss would not be pos­si­ble and that to­day, more than ever, RRP mat­ters. It has to be con­nected to the real value of your prod­ucts. How­ever, the sig­na­ture brand on the dial has to be the ul­ti­mate guar­an­tee for qual­ity and value, rather than the “made in”.

What de­fines a watch for you – is there ever an over­lap be­tween me­chan­i­cal and dig­i­tal time­keep­ers?

To­day a watch has not so much value to my eyes for its first func­tion of giv­ing the time, but for its in­ter­pre­ta­tion. It’s more about the fu­sion be­tween art, crafts­man­ship and tech­ni­cal­ity – that is what I like about a watch.

How do you ex­pect the brand will bridge the gap be­tween the demands of con­sumers for tra­di­tional time­pieces and the mod­ern ap­petite for their digi­tised, au­to­mated cousins? We will con­tinue to fo­cus on what we know. The only “bridge” we are con­cerned with is the Golden Bridge.

What has been the most sig­nif­i­cant change you have wit­nessed in your 25- year ca­reer?

The in­ter­net has changed and ac­cel­er­ated ev­ery­thing in the watch busi­ness. We now have to take good care of the speci­fici­ties of each mar­ket. But we are small and should never for­get it. The value of Swiss watch in­dus­try ex­ports stood at CHF 19.4 bil­lion ( HK$ 151.3 bil­lion) in 2016, which is noth­ing com­pared with Ap­ple or Sam­sung’s turnover.

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