An­other Step For­ward

While the in­dus­try might be a tad more cau­tious, Longines is do­ing more than just well. talk with CEO Wal­ter von Känel to find out why

DA MAN - Caliber - - CONTENTS -

Since the be­gin­ning of the year, there were signs ev­ery­where that the watch in­dus­try is re­think­ing the way it pre­sents its face to the pub­lic. From the fairs to the in­di­vid­ual nov­el­ties, every­body seemed a bit more cau­tious than pre­vi­ous years. Longines, how­ever, seemed to be do­ing well. Even bet­ter, per­haps. For sure, the brand seems to keep its fo­cus on en­hanc­ing its watch­mak­ing prow­ess in­stead of jump­ing into routes that are more ad­ven­tur­ous.

On the flip side, it’s of­fer­ings this year seems to be quite a bit more sporty. Take for ex­am­ple the new Hy­droCon­quest and the new Longines Leg­end Diver. Both divers’ watches at­tracted quite a lot of at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially the for­mer, which has also be­come ex­tremely pop­u­lar in Main­land China—a mar­ket that, tra­di­tion­ally, fa­vors clas­si­cal dress watches in gold. There’s also the Con­quest V.H.P. line. In­tro­duced last year, the col­lec­tion has now grown to in­clude a chrono­graph model as well as a GMT vari­ant with a unique Flash Set­ting fea­ture.

For­tu­nately, Wal­ter von Känel, the CEO of Longines, is—as al­ways—more than happy to dis­cuss the finer de­tails of his brand’s suc­cess story, the changes in his ap­proach to do­ing busi­ness in an in­creas­ingly in­ter­con­nected world and what lies ahead. DA­MAN: If I may, I’d like to start with a ques­tion about a par­tic­u­lar col­lec­tion—the Hy­droCon­quest. Word is that these watches are sell­ing ex­tremely well in China, a mar­ket not known for its in­ter­est in sporty divers’ watches. Why do you think is this so? Wal­ter von Känel: It’s a good ques­tion. If you look at the Hy­droCon­quest, this col­lec­tion was orig­i­nally one of the very good col­lec­tions out­side of China. Now, I go five to seven times a year to China, but I usu­ally go to the shops, not the of­fices. So, in the flag­ship store, the sales man­ager says to me, “Boss, it’s time to give me the Hy­droCon­quest.” It was af­ter 2007 that we de­cided to­gether with Hayek [Nick Hayek Jr., cur­rent CEO of Swatch Group and son of the group’s founder Ni­co­las Ge­orge Hayek] to in­tro­duce this one at a very ag­gres­sive price. This in­cluded me­chan­i­cal watches with an alu­minum bezel and with ce­ramic that we in­tro­duced this year. And step by step it be­came pop­u­lar, prob­a­bly due to the young gen­er­a­tion first buy­ing them abroad. And we had the same sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong, by the way. So, we had a cou­ple of meet­ings and we de­cided to put 20 pieces in each shop. And they sold out. There was huge pres­sure on us to de­liver more Hy­droCon­quest watches to the Far East coun­tries.

Wal­ter von Känel Op­po­site page The new Hy­droCon­quest watch

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