Out with 2016, in with 2017?

At the SIAR show in Mexico and the SalonQP in London partnered by GMT, brand leaders cast a glance back at the 2016 highlights and look ahead to those of 2017.

Aldo Magada, CEO Zenith

2016 : “In a year filled with challenges for the industry as a whole and for Zenith, we have undertaken a complete shift in perspective that brings greater clarity to our marketing and our collection. But it’s a bit like tacking with very little wind when you’re sailing, it’s much harder ! At Baselworld, customers witnessed a Zenith revival, and the partnerships with Cohiba and Land Rover that have followed have created quite a stir, enabling us to give non-verbal expression to the gentleman’s world we wish to convey with Zenith.”

2017 : “Baselworld will be important because we will be introducing new movements and models, and the partnership with Land Rover will move up a notch and even extend to the world of sailing, since they are involved in the America’s Cup and their skipper Ben Ainslie is becoming a Zenith ambassador.”

Claude Greisler, co-owner Armin Strom

2016 : “A great deal of production and development effort has been expended in the field of resonance, culminating in the launch at the SalonQP of our new Mirrored Résonance Fire model equipped with the new Caliber ARF 15 using the principle of resonance. It is proving a great hit on the markets, with a number of special orders being placed via our retail network. Our modular system enables us to handle them smoothly and we have adapted our stock. All watches are rhodiumed and we deliver with a choice of colors. On the sponsoring side, it has become very tough to motivate people to take part in events because they are over-extended, but they do on the other hand ask to visit the Manufacture !”

2017 : “You are going to see significant changes, notably with more online sales options, and a major first in watchmaking inspired by the automotive industry : a configurator that enables clients to juggle with the price when ordering their watch, thereby playing a didactic role by explaining the factors that determine prices.”

Antonio Calce, CEO Girard-Perregaux

2016 : “Girard-Perregaux ‘made peace with’ its vast inheritance, resulting in an extremely structured product line bound up with the brand identity, and by a new steel offer that the brand had lacked, thereby giving it access to a new price segment. This strategy respectful of our heritage sheds new light on the brand and makes it easy to grasp.”

2017 : “This will be a pivotal year since it marks our return to the SIHH, accompanied by an even more structured product range : while the classic collection has been developed in terms of depth, as indeed has the Cat’s Eye, the “Three Bridges” pillar will be interpreted through new products that are more accessible than the tourbillon, including a chronograph as a nod to the 1990s – although a casual chic model is still ‘missing’ from the line-up. Girard-Perregaux is fortunate enough not to be a mono-product brand, and 2017 should enable us to take a decisive step in the brand development with the reinterpretation of an icon that will become the spearhead of our redeployment.”

François-Paul Journe, founder F.P. Journe

2016 : “Firstly, we were able to purchase at auction the library of Jean-Claude Sabrier, with whom I enjoyed a 40-year friendship, and to install it in our Manufacture in his memory. Apart from the Grande Elégante watch intended for both women and men, our work continued without any spectacular events. The 10th anniversary of the Tokyo boutique was celebrated with a Centigraphe Anniversary 10-piece limited edition, and our Geneva store will have its turn in April. Based on a simple observation, we have also launched the “heritage service” intended for clients seeking to obtain historical models while preferring to avoid auctions. This generally involves series or first-generation watches with brass movements that I acquire, restore to pristine condition and offer with a three-year warranty.”

2017 : “Vagabondage 3 will be the last of the triptych, seven years after Vagabondage 2 (which itself came seven years after the first). People will understand the end of the film, as well as gaining a better grasp of the V1 and V2. I also devote a great deal of my time to Only Watch, for which I will for the first time be creating a watch that does not yet exist : it will be the number 1 in tantalum, before the launch of the model.”

Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO Roger Dubuis

2016 : “It was ladies’ year ! For the very first time, Roger Dubuis displayed a strong determination to defend the cause of mechanical watchmaking within a feminine Fine Watchmaking environment, yielding good results for this Velvet collection. In parallel, we continued our extension of the distribution network, opening a fourth boutique in Macao, a second in Beijing, and a first in Tokyo, in New York and in the Dubai Mall. Finally, after approaching 25 potential partners, we have experienced a certain number of part-nerships, notably with the FFF racing team by China’s Sean Fu Songyang, who shares his passion through invitations extended to other car collectors.”

2017 : “We will capitalize on three partnerships in the world of supercars, linked to the experiences we wish to offer our clients alongside the products they purchase. These will be unveiled at the SIHH, at the Geneva Car Show and at the Pebble Beach concours d’élégance. We are talking about an authentic alliance, since joint developments will be undertaken between our teams, drawing upon our respective expertise. Our supercar partners are as eager to move ahead as we are, which is a very important aspect. Excalibur will be very much in the spotlight.”

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Pierre Jacques, CEO of MCT

2016 : “It has been a year of transition and consolidation for the brand, featuring a complete change of management with my arrival and the return of the historical founder Denis Giguet. We have reinforced the vertical integration of our production, while simultaneously gaining fresh momentum with new developments and successfully doubling our turnover.”

2017 : “MCT will be entering the ‘Carré des Horlogers’ at the SIHH, and will present new calibers and new ways of displaying time in an original manner, expressed through at least five new models.”

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO Hublot

2016 : “Despite a complicated year for the watch industry, Hublot coped effectively and managed to end the year with a modest increase in sales, which is due to several reasons. The brand remained dynamic throughout the world, notably by celebrating the 10th anniversary of the All Black concept. Moreover, the Chinese effect had no impact on us because we are not very strong there yet and we are continuing to invest in order to pursue our expansion in China. The Euro was a 2016 highlight, starting with the opening Match of Friendship, in which we succeeded in bringing together two soccer legends who had never previously met : Diego Maradona and Pelé.

2017 : “Hublot’s marketing is always based on two pillars : soccer on the one hand, and Ferrari on the other. The latter will be celebrating its 70th anniversary and we will naturally be part of that, with our Baselworld booth decked out in its colors, complete with an exceptional car and a commemorative watch created in cooperation with Ferrari’s Design Director, Flaviro Manzoni. A car manufacturer’s input enables us to achieve a fairly innovative product while safeguarding Hublot’s DNA : we will create a 70-piece limited-edition tourbillon chronograph redesigned like a car engine.”

Ruben Mira, CEO Cyrus

2016 : “It was a very tough year, tougher than in 2015, even though we remain positive. We continue learning daily, striving to stand out from the crowd and to find effective solutions, which meant I traveled a lot ! We launched our first model with a price tag below CHF 10,000, the Solo Tempo with an open dial, and we also opened our first point of sale in the United States.”

2017 : “A new high-end, innovative talking piece will be launched, equipped with a new Manufacture-made caliber, once again made in conjunction with Jean-François Mojon, and which should prove quite a surprise with its avant-garde approach !”

Tim Malachard, Marketing Director Richard Mille

2016 : “We witnessed an extraordinary brand dynamic, with exciting new launches such as the Airbus watch or the RM 68-01 by street artist Cyril Kongo, who painted all the components, while the ladies’ range also developed strongly. We experienced fabulous growth in sales, while crossing the symbolic threshold of 200,000 Instagram followers. Our customers love keeping up with the latest brand news, especially its technical approach and innovations in a number of sectors. We also launched a major partnership with McLaren F1, which gives us access to its R&D department. The McLaren Technology Center employs 3,000 people who are as thrilled as we are about the projects we are going to work on together. I also note the gold medal won by Wayde van Niekerk at the Rio Olympic games, who also bettered the 400-meter world record dating from 1999 with a Richard Mille on his wrist !”

2017 : “The brand will continue its approach based on vibrant passion and exciting encounters, and we will also be launching five or six new models, while introducing NTPT with gold leaf on the women’s range, which will continue to expand. We will open boutiques in New York, St. Bart’s and Kobe, increasing our boutique network from 30 to 40 by the end of the year.”

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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