“WE WILL CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON WHAT WE KNOW. THE ONLY ‘ BRIDGE’ WE ARE CONCERNED WITH IS THE GOLDEN BRIDGE”
Jérôme Biard, CEO of Corum
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.