I was completely astonished myself! Jérôme Lambert’s departure was a surprise in itself and then after this first emotional reaction I realised what an honour it was to be offered this job, which I enthusiastically accepted.
What were the first decisions you took ?
First of all, Jérôme left us a solid platform for an extraordinary brand. So the first resolve was not to take any hasty decisions and to continue developing that which had been put in place and structured by my predecessor. The second logically consisted in taking time for internal dialogue with areas of the company other than the industrial side of things that I had been overseeing – a process that began by an international tour to meet our subsidiaries and our network of own-name boutiques. The following stage will encompass retailers worldwide. In parallel, I also had to meet the various teams within the Manufacture, including the product design and R&D departments, notably to define the development strategy for the coming years.
Which goals would you like to set for the brand over the coming years ?
Our product lines are already well structured, but we need to communicate even more on their identity codes, while some must be strengthened and others stabilised. For example, the Rendez-Vous line is the most recent and is enjoying a degree of success that naturally calls for an extension of its variations, all the while taking account of market feedback. We also have plans to create new product families to round out our range two years from now. Our identity as a full-fledged Manufacture must also doubtless be more strongly highlighted.
Is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s image the same across all continents ?
The qualitative perception of the brand is the same on all the continents I have visited to date. Around the world, the quality of the products places Jaeger-LeCoultre at the very peak of the watchmaking pyramid.
Personally speaking, what are your favourite aspects of this brand ?
We have become extremely accomplished in the domain of developing sophisticated horological complications, applying them to various models and combining them in various ways – a capability that enables us to stand out strongly amid the competition. In addition to this exceptional expertise, the brand can express its full creative potential thanks to a fully integrated production facility. This creative freedom will be once again in the spotlight at the upcoming SIHH, and particularly through the relationship between the movement and the watch exterior.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has a much-coveted industrial facility ; what measures are you taking in the field of training ?
First of all, we are fortunate to be able to rely on extremely local teams, which means we have less cause to worry about renewing them than some other brands. Moreover, these teams are relatively youthful because the Manufacture has experienced strong growth over the past five to six years, resulting in a nicely balanced age pyramid. Our human resources strategy includes succession plans for our highly experienced staff members, and one of our projects aims to put in place an internal training network for watchmakers involved with the most sophisticated complications. Since a number of talented young people are keen to develop their professional skills, we are going to set up a workshop that is not under any time constraints in terms of deliveries to customers, in order to train them in Fine Watchmaking and thereby enhance our capacities at the very top end of the scale, as well as giving them greater opportunities for dynamic career plans.
How can one strike the right balance between quantity and quality ?
There can be no compromises on quality, which remains the key factor in success. The balance can be found in the market which challenges us in this respect ; we are capable of producing such and such a quantity in the desired quality and respective degrees of complexity, but it is definitely quality that determines quantity. We have no wish to produce large volumes to the detriment of our controls and our fields of expertise. A Manufacture-made product takes time. We have the production facility to make more watches, but that would involve more recruitment. Just how far do we wish to grow ? That’s a issue we need to address.
Will we be seeing Jaeger-LeCoultre at next year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix ?
The question has not yet arisen since my arrival, but I can already set a date for the SIHH to unveil some exciting surprises and a demonstration of expertise, particularly in the area of integrating movements and exteriors with the entire range of artistic crafts. I can already guarantee that there will be plenty of scoops to write about there !