“We like to cre­ate he­roes that also tell time”

CEO of Pan­erai, Jean-Marc Pon­troué on lead­ing In­dia, the new brand am­bas­sador and what’s next for the brand.

India Today - - CEO SPEAK - by Nirja Dutt

Jean-Marc Pon­troué joined the Richemont group in 2000 af­ter spend­ing half a decade with lux­ury con­glom­er­ate LVMH. Dur­ing his ten­ure at Richemont he worked with Mont­blanc and Roger Dubuis and af­ter nearly two decades, he was ap­pointed as the CEO of Pan­erai last April.

How has your brand ex­pe­ri­ence been so far?

Join­ing a new brand is like start­ing a new chap­ter of a book and so far this chap­ter has been great. I don’t say that’s be­cause I chose to join Pan­erai but be­cause Pan­erai is counted among one of the top 20 icons in the watch world and I get to work with a brand that can be recog­nised at a sin­gle glance. To me, that’s amaz­ing and a true mark of a won­der­ful brand. Watch­mak­ers take eons to cre­ate that one star prod­uct and then get that kind of fol­low­ing, but with Pan­erai, it’s ef­fort­less. While they are con­stantly try­ing to cre­ate watches and look­ing for their ‘hero’ piece, we are cre­at­ing he­roes that also hap­pen to tell time; there is a big dif­fer­ence.

How does Pan­erai seam­lessly tran­si­tion from be­ing a 159-year-old brand to some­thing that is

de­sir­able to the young mil­len­nial and a col­lec­tor?

We are a very emo­tional brand. And we cre­ate this con­nect with our con­sumers through our dis­tinct style. And this is why I am so against books that ex­plain each piece; we trust our con­sumer to un­der­stand the timepiece. If there was a book about the his­tory of the brand, I am all for that as I be­lieve we need to re­mem­ber our roots; it’s like a mu­seum of the brand. Over time we want to adopt a strat­egy where we only put our logo and noth­ing else on the watch as a de­mar­ca­tion of the brand. We know our look is unique and there are con­sumers from all age groups and parts of the globe that love it

Tell us about Pan­erai’s In­dia pres­ence?

At Pan­erai we are all about un­der­stand­ing your his­tory and cul­ture, and In­dia has the most colour­ful one. Each city is unique, the fash­ion, the food, the emo­tions they evoke, are all so in­ter­est­ing, and we love that we are here. In the next ten years I see In­dia as one of largest con­sumers for watches and we will be glad to say that we were one of the first brands to come here. There is al­ways a pre­mium for those who start the race be­fore the oth­ers. I strongly be­lieve that the coun­try it­self plus the num­ber of In­dian trav­ellers we find in Switzer­land, Paris Lon­don, Dubai, Sin­ga­pore and so many other places are all peo­ple we want to en­gage with. Peo­ple who are im­por­tant for our brand. That’s why we signed with MS Dhoni as the face of Pan­erai in In­dia.

Tell us more about choos­ing Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni as brand am­bas­sador. What made you feel he was the right choice?

What we in­stantly fell in love with was MS Dhoni’s au­then­tic­ity. We had been notic­ing him for a while and he has been seen wear­ing Pan­erai in mag­a­zines and other places, but it was his sin­cer­ity to­wards his craft and our la­bel that drew us to him. I was never an ad­vo­cate of pay­ing some­one to en­dorse a brand, but Dhoni does it be­cause he ac­tu­ally likes our watches and this re­in­forced our choice in him.

What is next for the brand?

I have no­ticed that peo­ple are far more re­cep­tive to a con­cept when they ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­ence it as op­posed to read­ing about it and we wanted to work on that idea. We will soon be launch­ing Pan­erai Ex­pe­ri­ences. They will be in tan­dem with our new watches and im­merse the con­sumer or ‘Paner­esti­ties’ (as we call them) in what we want them to ex­pe­ri­ence. The com­ing year will also be the an­niver­sary for one of our leg­endary time­pieces and we plan to cel­e­brate it in ev­ery way pos­si­ble. Think Lu­mi­nor and all its shades and a spe­cial way to com­mem­o­rate each hue.

Your favourite Pan­erai?

I have been asked this ques­tion a hun­dred times and each time the an­swer is dif­fer­ent. In fact, I bought my son a Pan­erai for his 18th birth­day be­fore I even worked here, so its safe to say, I have al­ways loved the brand. My pref­er­ence keeps chang­ing but for now I like the Bronzo and the BMG Tech.

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