Gabriel Benador

A big watch collector and investor encourages watch brands to rethink their customer relations.

You run a collectors’ club in New York. How does it work ?

It’s a very open and welcoming group called RedBar. I’ve been a member for almost four years now and I met some of my closest friends there. We meet weekly at a bar to drink and talk watches. Sometimes, we also host brands to come meet with our group, in a very casual and low-key setting. There’s no ego there, it’s all about the love of watches and love of learning and discussing watches with enthusiastic collectors.

As a customer, are you satisfied with the relationship with watch brands ?

I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the communication and openness with the majority of the large brands. Unless, of course, you are a big-time collector. It’s a problem. But, on the flip side, the independents have got it right. They know how to communicate with us, they understand that importance of face-to-face contact. It isn’t about advertisements, or press mentions, it’s about the personal contact and personal communication of the brand to collectors.

You are one of the founders and shareholders of Volleto, an application that brings together owners of luxury objects and the brands who make them, in particular watch brands. Why ?

I believe that communication is one of the biggest challenges that brands face today. Volleto is aiming to bridge the communication gap between brand and collector, with a solution that matters today, in an organic way. There are many social media and media tools available for brands, but their problem is that they aim at the mass public with little, if no, direct contact from individual to the brand and vice versa. Whereas, with Volleto, we aim to target the individual and bring him/her closer to the brand by providing a direct line of communication in a relevant, useful, and extremely cost-effective manner.

What is your vision for Volleto ?

Simply, my vision for Volleto is for the brands to understand that their communication to collectors is the number one priority, and it needs to improve and we have the tools to make that happen. The issues we are seeing within the Swiss watch industry relate to the lack of malleability in implementing new strategies to keep with the times. Decisions take too long and time is wasted on antiquated bureaucracies. Social Media is moving rapidly and the majority are two or three steps behind. Volleto provides the direct line of communication that most buyers of luxury goods hope for. There is no reason for brands not to be utilizing all the modes of communication available to them.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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