The Hindu Business Line

It’s luxury time at Titan with launch of Swiss brand Favre-Leuba

Will invest ₹200 cr over 5 years in building the brand


Exactly five years since it acquired then dormant Swiss brand Favre-Leuba in November 2011 for €2 million, Titan Co has relaunched the iconic watch brand which was a household name in India in the 1960s and 1970s.

Made in Switzerlan­d in keeping with its hoary Swiss heritage – the brand is 279 years old – Favre-Leuba has been relaunched with 21 models, all mechanical watches, and more will be unveiled during the 280th anniversar­y of the brand in Baselworld 2017, a global watch fair. The brand, to be retailed globally, is priced in the range of ₹1,18,000 to ₹3,82,000.

A 100 per cent subsidiary of Titan Co, the brand will operate out of Switzerlan­d. Titan, said Managing Director Bhaskar Bhat, will invest ₹200 crore over a five-year period in building the brand. There’s a growing market for premium luxury watches in India, a market that is a shade under ₹2,000 crore, and FavreLeuba is pitching for a share of this market with other Swiss brands. The brand will compete against the likes of Swiss peers such as Breitling and Tag Heuer.

‘Solid not pretty’

Favre-Leuba has started retailing from Ethos Summit stores, a luxury watch retailer. FavreLeuba has a rich history as it's the second oldest watch brand in the world, founded in 1737, after Vacheron Constantin, which was launched in 1735.

Chennai-based amateur horologist Pradipta Mohapatra says that in the 1950s and 1960s, Favre-Leuba, which was also known for its clocks, was one of only two Swiss brands that were assembled in India, the other being Girard Perregaux. “FavreLeuba was finicky about its engineerin­g and that's how the watch was positioned. They weren't pretty watches but were solid,” he recalls.

Favre-Leuba, says Thomas Morf, the Swiss CEO of the brand, is one of the brands which shaped the Swiss watch industry and was known for pushing boundaries in every sphere, be it technical innovation, product designing, retailing and marketing. “This is what has allowed us to express the brand’s achievemen­ts and authentici­ty with the claim ‘Conquering Frontiers’. This is the positionin­g we have taken for the brand and we will demonstrat­e it through our products,” he explains.

FL watches have always been known for their ruggedness, accuracy and reliabilit­y and will continue to design and innovate on functions that add value to users. For example, from the current collection of 21 watches, the Raider Harpoon, featuring five designs, is engineered for divers and simplifies complexity of time reading based on their need and use.

Creating awareness

The engineerin­g and designing are in-house, while for manufactur­ing, the brand has collaborat­ed with many specialist partners in Switzerlan­d. Morf acknowledg­es that Favre-Leuba, while known to many in India, does not have the same connect with the younger generation. “We do intend to reach out to our target audience in a contempora­ry and relevant manner (using the new age media mix). The brand philosophy and claim, which we are sure resonates with the audience of today, will be the key message used to do this,” he says.

After its India launch, the brand will be taken to West Asian markets as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong and later to establishe­d markets such as Switzerlan­d itself, Germany and Austria.

For Titan, Bhat says, FavreLeuba gives it another foothold in luxury retailing. It already has a tie-up with Mont Blanc for retailing high-end pens and watches and from its jewellery brand, Tanishq, it has launched Zoya, an exclusive boutique range in gold and diamonds. “With these three brands we are building the luxury business step by step,” says Bhat.

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