Back to black

Ulysse Nardin con­tin­ues to swim against the tide with its newly ap­pointed cap­tain CEO Pa­trick Pru­ni­aux, who tells melainne chiew it’s the voy­age that in­ter­ests him

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

a brand like Ulysse Nardin doesn’t beg to be heard across en­tire oceans; its pres­ence is sim­ply felt. Freak, which launched in 2001, pro­pelled Ulysse Nardin onto the horo­log­i­cal radar with its un­con­ven­tional de­sign aes­thetic. Bereft of con­ven­tional hands, dial and crown, it fea­tured a fly­ing car­rousel, a move­ment that re­volved on its own axis ev­ery hour, and a sep­a­rate in­di­ca­tor for hours. More im­por­tantly, it was also the first watch to boast ul­tra­resilient, am­ag­netic sil­i­con parts, with its Dual Di­rect es­cape­ment paving way for even more tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in years to come.

“Ulysse Nardin is a brand for peo­ple in the know, for con­nois­seurs,” says Pa­trick Pru­ni­aux, who joined the Ker­ing Group in Septem­ber 2017 as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ulysse Nardin. “I’d say it’s for some­one who as­pires to have one of the best watches in the world, while find­ing the bal­ance be­tween hav­ing that sta­tus sym­bol with­out be­ing too showy or in your face.”

Like­wise, one might say that Pru­ni­aux em­bod­ies many qual­i­ties of a brand like Ulysse Nardin. The 46-year-old’s var­ied port­fo­lio clues you in, sug­gest­ing he is no cookie cut­ter. He brings with him over two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­tries of lux­ury and fast­mov­ing goods. He was Re­gional

Di­rec­tor at Moët Hen­nessy for Latin Amer­ica ( 2000 to 2004), fol­lowed by Tag Heuer ( 2005 to 2014), first as In­ter­na­tional Ex­port Di­rec­tor ( 2005 to 2009) then Vice Pres­i­dent for Global Sales & Re­tail ( 2010 to 2014). Pru­ni­aux came on board Ulysse Nardin from Ap­ple ( 2014 to 2017), where he was part of the Spe­cial Projects team that launched the Ap­ple Watch. More re­cently in August, Pru­ni­aux was also ap­pointed CEO of Gi­rard-per­re­gaux.

Con­tem­plat­ing it might be a habit he picked up from his time at Ap­ple, Pru­ni­aux says he is fix­ated with con­sumer be­hav­iour. “I am ob­sessed with how our prod­uct is be­ing used. To buy a prod­uct and keep it in the drawer is a pity. You want to make sure there is max­i­mum con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence. We’re ex­plor­ing the dif­fer­ent as­pects of that field to en­sure clients al­ways de­rive joy and fun when they buy pre­mium prod­ucts from us. It’s very of­ten in the lux­ury in­dus­try to find brands just want to sell some­thing.”

De­spite Ulysse Nardin’s many tech­no­log­i­cal tri­umphs (the Grinder wind­ing sys­tem that de­buted in this year’s Freak Vi­sion, the Uly­choc shock ab­sorp­tion sys­tem from 2015, and the in-house An­chor Con­stant es­cape­ment from 2014 among oth­ers), it re­mains a brand known mostly to watch en­thu­si­asts. Says Pru­ni­aux, “When we do some­thing great, we some­times don’t talk enough about it. We are just al­ways more fo­cused on a per­ma­nent quest for im­prove­ment.”

To him, the jour­ney, how­ever, is more if not as im­por­tant as the des­ti­na­tion. “I’m more wor­ried about things we don’t do right yet, than the re­sults, which may or may not be a good il­lus­tra­tion of the work we’ve done. You can achieve suc­cess with­out be­ing good at what you do; like­wise, you could fail de­spite be­ing very good, so I’m more ob­sessed with what we do well and what other things we need to im­prove on.”

In­deed, Pru­ni­aux is proud of the way the new #Freak­me­out cam­paign has come to­gether, and the ex­cite­ment cre­ated around the brand, es­pe­cially with the de­but of its Freak Out col­lec­tion de­but in Kuala Lumpur in August, where entertainment came in the form of pul­sat­ing dance beats and ap­pro­pri­ately bizarre con­tor­tion­ist acts. The #Freak­me­out cam­paign is rep­re­sented by a solo shark in an ur­ban jun­gle, seem­ingly out of its el­e­ment yet able to tra­verse the un­fa­mil­iar ground ef­fort­lessly.

“I think #Freak­me­out rep­re­sents to some ex­tent what peo­ple want: To be sur­prised, to see some­thing dif­fer­ent and fresh,” Pru­ni­aux ex­plains. “The Freak epit­o­mises what Ulysse Nardin stands for — a sense of free­dom and in­no­va­tion that com­bines dar­ing in­ge­nu­ity with un­de­ni­able style. I think the party rep­re­sents the mind­set of the com­pany pretty well.”

Like­wise, the brand-new quar­tet of watches pre­serves the Freak DNA and is pow­ered by the sig­na­ture baguette-shaped fly­ing car­rousel move­ment, the man­ual-wind­ing cal­i­bre UN-205 with a pro­pri­etary dual sil­i­con es­cape­ment and a gen­er­ous 7-day power re­serve. The lat­est ex­pres­sion of the Freak fam­ily comes in four vari­ants, all cased in ti­ta­nium: Blue Gold, Out Of The Blue, Black Gold and Full Black. The lat­ter’s case comes with a black PVD sur­face treat­ment to evoke jet-black cool.

He shares, “It’s re­ally down to us now. We have the power to grow and ac­cel­er­ate ahead of other brands, but hav­ing said that, we shouldn’t be a main­stream brand. We prob­a­bly need to very marginally in­crease our aware­ness to oth­ers to make sure when they’re as­pir­ing to own man­u­fac­ture watches, es­pe­cially with our val­ues, they pick us.”

FROM TOP: PA­TRICK PRU­NI­AUX; FREAK OUT BLUE GOLD

FROM LEFT: FREAK OUT FULL BLACK IN BLACK PVD COATED TI­TA­NIUM; FREAK OUT BLACK GOLD IN TI­TA­NIUM; THE MAN­U­AL­WIND­ING CAL­I­BRE UN-205

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