Since it was founded in 1755 in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watchmaking manufacture in the world, has become a name synonymous with luxury watchmaking par excellence. Over the last 260 years, the maison has delivered extraordinary quality and awe-inspiring collections that have adorned the wrists of global icons and purveyors of haute horlogerie. With the brand’s expertise in precise and technically fine watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin continues to design, develop and produce exceptional timekeepers. Karishma Karer chats with Laurent Perves, Chief Marketing Officer, to know about the brand’s versatile offerings for 2018.
Last year was difficult for most brands, due to the slowdown of the global economy. How was the year for Vacheron Constantin, and how do you perceive this year will be?
I think that the prospects at the end of 2017 were quite good for the watch world and for us. You can see it at SIHH which is very dynamic and positive this year. This year, we have come out with a new collection and a lot of novelties. We look at 2018 with ambition and optimism.
In terms of collections, what is the focus for 2018 going to be?
Well, the 56 collection is definitely one of the highlights. We are also complementing the existing collections, like with the novelties on the Overseas collection. We have the dual time complication and a new perpetual calendar as well. We have novelties for the Traditionelle line as well, in the form of a new tourbillon. Then of course we have the Métiers d’Art collection. This year we have a beautiful watch combined with a complication. Les Aérostiers uses plique-à-jour enameling and the models are dedicated to the first air-balloonists. It is going to be a busy semester!
It seems that the brand is focusing on affordable luxury in a big way. What are your thoughts on this direction?
Affordable is always a funny notion…especially when we talk about a watch that could have the price of a car! This is not affordable, but it is a good point of entry for Vacheron Constantin high watchmaking. In the 56 collection, there is one steel piece and then we go higher and have the all-gold pieces. It is a conscious choice to occupy that position. Launching a steel watch that is elegant…it is great to add that to what we offer to the market in general. It is easy to wear every day and still it is classic. It is for a new generation of watch collectors.
As with the other Overseas models, the Dual Time features Vacheron’s proprietary strap changing system. Do you believe that versatility in a watch, in terms of being able to change its look more often, is something that is increasingly being sought after?
Yes. You can change the bracelets very easily, just with one click. We think it is very important, especially for a sporty outdoor collection, to have that kind of complication and innovation, because it gives a 24/7 versatility, not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of style. We try to have straps that fit the lifestyles that our clients have.
In terms of watches for women, do you have any specific watches for women this year?
I like the new American 1921. We just launched it in December. It is not per se a woman’s watch, but it is a smaller size. Actually, a lot of men also love it! But with the addition of the red strap, I feel it is a beautiful piece, a real high watchmaking piece for women.
There is a lot of communication with the customer being done digitally. What is your take on that?
We were one of the first brands to have a forum online where collectors could discuss watches. We are also on Instagram. But, this is always complementary to the physical experience. The digital and the physical are always interconnected. So, if there is anything additional in the digital space, to what we do in terms of enriching the experience for the client, we would seize the opportunity.
Have you seen any drastic changes in the luxury watch industry in the last few years?
I wouldn’t say drastic, but there are a couple of trends that we can follow. First, the consumers are very aware. They have a lot of knowledge and information. They are very conscious of the value of what they are buying. They want the best value and the best quality, which is good as it drives us to challenge ourselves. You mentioned digital,…more and more people are embracing it and there is a combination of the physical and the digital world. A customer may start admiring a watch from a very nice magazine like yours, then go to the website to see more images or videos, then go to social media to participate in any discussion on it, then google the boutique and finally touch and feel the product. It is a complete experience.
What is the way forward for Vacheron Constantin in 2018?
There is a lot of activity in terms of collections and launches. Well, the way forward is that we keep doing what we do well! We see a lot of opportunity. We hope to keep perpetuating what we have been doing.
What is your favourite watch from the collection this year?
I would have to choose two! I really like the new Overseas Perpetual Calendar in pink gold. It is an assertive, sleek and elegant piece. Then, the 56 collection, which is also very sleek and elegant.
With its versatile offerings this year, the 263-year-old brand is creative and agile as ever, as it moves into the future of timekeeping.
Laurent Perves began his career in the luxury goods industry, spanning over 15 years with the LVMH Group before moving on to the Prestige Products Division of Procter & Gamble. Moving into the haute horlogerie world in 2014, he became Head of Brand Communication for Audemars Piguet before joining Vacheron Constantin in December, 2016. Laurent is also a Visiting Professor at the Paris Dauphine University, his alma mater where he conducts seminars on Communication for students of the ‘Luxury Management’ Master’s program.
Watch this space to see what’s HOT at Vacheron Constantin for 2018.