Since becoming President of Omega Watches in June 2016, Raynald Aeschlimann has made it his business to know the company from the inside out and, in the process, gain a deeper understanding of the needs of both his existing and future customers.
How are you enjoying your role as President of Omega?
It’s incredible to have this role after all these years. I started at Omega in 1996 and at the Swatch Group in 1992 – I expected it to be for a year to gain business experience, but it became a passion of my life. Originally I was a Sales and Marketing Project Manager, becoming VP of Sales in 2001 and this latest role is a huge opportunity. I have given a lot of energy to the brand over the years and being offered the chance to see it as President is very interesting – it is a pleasure and gives me a huge sense of pride to lead the company.
What have been your priorities?
I want to motivate people and push them to the maximum. One of the first things I did was to travel around the whole world with senior management to visit stores and colleagues. As a unit from HQ, we needed to hear what the rest of the world was saying and we needed to hear it while we were all together. Omega has been around for more than 110 years and my job is to ensure that the next few years are successful for the company.
What unique skills do you bring to the role?
Everyone brings their own experiences to their job. Obviously the fact that I have worked in different territories is beneficial and having worked closely with Mr Hayek, I also understand the Swatch Group philosophy – I opened the first boutique more than a decade ago and this was an incredible learning curve. With a store, it is your product, your marketing, your door – and if nobody comes in then you have a problem with all three. I have learned to pay attention to the small details in every area and these experiences have made me the Raynald of today, able to balance everything.
What is your communication strategy?
Our communication strategy is pretty consistent. Our aim is to inspire and we are putting a lot of energy into this – from our partnership with the Olympics to working with Cindy Crawford and George Clooney, and being the watch choice of James Bond. We are also focusing more on new media and our strategy for how and where we talk to people to ensure information gets to the right people in the right way. It’s good to be on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, as long as you know what you want to tell people – just to copy and paste won’t work.
Are your ambassadors a big part of this?
They are the pillars. Twenty years ago, they were very important in establishing desirability and now they are part of our credibility and integrity. George Clooney and Cindy Crawford have been with us for a long time and demonstrate longevity. And, of course, we have a wonderful relationship with Daniel Craig. He is a real watch man and has visited our new factory. It’s rare for more than a couple of months to go by when we don’t talk to Daniel about watches.
Does your relationship with James Bond go beyond Daniel Craig?
I have no idea what will happen with Bond. I hope Daniel does another movie but I have complete trust in Barbara Broccoli and the team. We have been involved with Bond for the past 20 years and, in that time, the character has had an incredible evolution. Barbara has almost recreated him and I know she will continue making the franchise a success. What is more important to us than the actor is that Bond shares Omega’s values – he is credible, spirited, technological, has integrity and universal appeal.
Beyond the emotion, how important is technicality and innovation in Omega’s watchmaking?
I think it is a major reason that Omega is so successful. Today when you buy a luxury product you also need to be sure that what you have been sold has real quality – this is true whether you are talking about a watch, a handbag or a perfume. Innovations like the METAS certification of our Co-Axial Master Chronometer calibre are to improve quality not to increase price. An independent Swiss government authority has tested the watches with this movement and that definitely helps with sales both indirectly and directly.
Once someone has chosen a watch – whether by size, function, colour, design – they DO look at quality. Yes people do take quality for granted with Omega but, as a brand we like to feel it can be proved. Some brands increase the length of their warranties for no logical reason but, when we increase ours, customers know it is as a result of new technology. Not all customers know about METAS when they buy a watch but, after explanation, most think it is great and they leave our stores with an even better feeling about the watch on their wrist. It’s like a security code and it lets clients know that they have something extra. It’s about added value and today that is what makes the difference between ordinary brands and extraordinary brands.