Listen up. The watch industry is about to change–totally, radically and irreversibly. Because the men leading it now are no longer going to be shackled by the confining mentality of their past. Instead they are going to capitalize on the tools, language and mediums of today to connect the values of Swiss watchmaking to the audience of tomorrow. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
It’s no secret that Richemont Group in particular has been badly hit in the past couple of years due to over investment in the Asian market. It encouraged competition between its various watch brands, which resulted in the development of an in-house movement strategy for each and every brand, in many cases severely increasing the cost of watches until they were priced out of the market. The group also incorrectly believed that consumers wanted mechanical complications when the reality is that the vast majority is far more interested in the lifestyle expressed by a watch.
But worst of all, the group allowed its brands to create passionless, unexciting and largely irrelevant products. According to a highly placed Richemont insider: “You have 60-year-old guys in boardrooms making watches for other 60-year-old guys in boardrooms.” They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong, and that’s why brands that chose to imbed themselves in contemporary culture – brands like Audemars Piguet, Tudor, TAG Heuer, Richard Mille, Hublot, Rolex and even Patek Philippe – found themselves becoming more relevant than ever while many of Richemont’s brands began to feel more and more anachronistic. Says the same insider: “It’s like trying to convince the generation that loves Drake or The Weeknd that the harpsichord is cool.”