Interview : Louis Ferla, CEO Vacheron Constantin

CEO-Vacheron-Constantin

You took the helm of Vacheron Constantin at a tough time : what were your priorities ?

 I began working for Vacheron Constantin in September 2016 as Marketing & Sales Director, and was appointed CEO on April 1st 2017. My priorities were guided by a determination to adopt a close-up and personal approach, driven by careful thought and attentive listening to our personnel and our clients. Together with the Executive Committee, we opted to spend six months visiting many of our subsidiaries around the world and meeting our personnel, clients and partners – thereby instating a change of governance within this fine Maison. During this consultative phase, we have undertaken in-depth reflection on Vacheron Constantin’s positioning, its DNA and its perceived value. Our Heritage department has also been revamped so as to incorporate its potential into our stylistic research in the creative development process.

“Our customers are young and demand good products, good service and a good message.”

People close to the brand mention a sense of internal renewal : to what do you attribute this ?

The CEO’s role is to unite staff around a shared vision ! We must try to build a project together. Once teams are fully engaged, they can carry the project forward. Above all, Vacheron Constantin stands as a guarantor of watchmaking excellence.

What do Vacheron Constantin’s customers expect from the Maison ?

Excellence ! A customer who enters one of our boutiques and acquires one of our creations is making a carefully thought-out choice : that of excellence, quality and service. It is truly the approach of a person in the know. Our customers and future customers are undeniably connoisseurs. They demand good products, good service and a good message. They are connected, relatively youthful forty-something individuals who are looking for information on our heritage, our finishing, our crafts, and are also keen to visit our Manufacture. We are delighted to have two watches selected for the GPHG 2017 in the Artistic Crafts and Mechanical Exception categories – each of which testifies in its own way to the savoir faire and horological expertise that our clientele is looking for.

Vacheron

Are sports watches part of that equation ?

Vacheron Constantin has been offering casual and elegant watches for 40 years : this is a segment that appeals to our customers and in which they expect us to be creative and innovative, while remaining true to our values and our identity. The true collector wishes to own understated and very classical watches, Grand Complication watches, as well as models one might describe as sportier, made by a Maison well reputed among connoisseurs, that he will be able to wear on various occasions. The Overseas is one such model.

What about ladies’ watches ?

More and more women are treating themselves to watches and are looking for technical content. When considering their options, they often ask advice from their partners, who retain a prescriptive role and recommend Vacheron Constantin for its stature as a full-fledged watch Manufacture. It is thus legitimate for Vacheron Constantin to develop a range for women.

“Above all, Vacheron Constantin stands as a guarantor of watchmaking excellence.”

What is your approach with regard to online sales of high-end watches ?

As mentioned earlier, buying a Vacheron Constantin is a deliberate choice, expressing a wish to turn to a Maison known to connoisseurs. We consider the website as one of the stages in reflecting on the purchasing process. When customers take an interest in the sphere of Fine Watchmaking, they rub shoulders with collectors, read specialized press articles and visit a boutique. For us, the complementary roles of digital channels and traditional retail networks are still of primary importance, as ever with the main goal of offering customers the best possible experience. We are currently posting all our prices online and will soon have our own e-commerce platform, while remaining firmly convinced that personal contact and exchanges are still a priority in welcoming and dealing with our customers.

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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