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‘India A Key Market With Demanding Customers’

Watches from the French half of Switzerland have always been coveted possessions in India. A brand from the German half now forays into that space

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Luc Rochereau, who has over 20 years’ experience in the international luxury segment, took over as Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen’s brand director for India and the Middle East in October, 2015. IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces since 1868. It was one of the few players to introduce specialised watches for pilots way back in 1936. This year at SIHH 2016, it relaunched the Pilot’s watches in diametres from 36mm to 55mm. Rochereau’s stint with IWC began in 2011 with the Richemont Group in Moscow, where he successfully developed both IWC and Roger Dubuis across the entire CIS region. Rochereau fully repositioned the IWC brand in Russia and restructured retail sales with the opening of a flagship boutique in Moscow. He is now looking forward to taking the Middle East branch of IWC Schaffhausen to the next level. Rochereau is bullish about India too, but wants to grow step by step. Excerpts:

What makes a luxury brand? How important is innovation to a luxury brand?
A luxury brand is defined by different aspects. It is important to provide customers with supreme quality. IWC timepieces are equipped with precious materials and finest leather straps. Luxury brands need to have the best craftsmanship, in our case, we have the best watchmakers.
Luxury brands need to offer their customers exclusive products and avoid mass production.

Last but not the least, storytelling is very essential. Brands need to create emotions around their products by relating them to a story. For example, IWC Pilot’s watches are linked with pioneering and aviation. Innovation is a very important factor. One of the biggest challenges of a luxury brand is to appeal to the next generation, while staying true to its core value and keeping existing clients interested. Therefore, a luxury brand needs to innovate in respect of its DNA.
IWC Schaffhausen has been designing and manufacturing timepieces since 1868 and is, thus, very successful.

Where does India stand in IWC Schaffhausen’s universe?

India is an important market with demanding clients, who are buying worldwide (London, Paris, Dubai and Zurich) and are looking for complicated and exclusive timepieces, such as the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar and the Big Pilot’s watch edition ‘Le Petit Prince’.

How many retailers do you have in India?

We have seven retailers at the moment and want to grow step by step.

Which are your most popular watches? Are they different for the Asia-Pacific region?
A collection’s popularity varies from one market to another. In general IWC has three popular collections throughout the world — the Portugieser collection, the Portofino collection and the Pilot’s watch collection.

Rolex and Omega are known for their heritage. How does IWC Schaffhausen compete?

IWC Schaffhausen is a Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1868 by Florentine Ariosto Jones, a US citizen. The location of IWC is very unique compared to the mentioned watch companies, which are located in the French part of Switzerland. IWC is based in the German part close to the picturesque Rheinfall. One of the outstanding unique selling propositions of IWC is the extensive partnership universe, which the company represents in each of its six different watch families. For example, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team with the two brand ambassadors, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, or the Laureus Sports for Good Foundation, an organisation that promotes social change through sports. This organisation is very active in India and conducts several activities with Indian sportspersons like Sachin Tendulkar. The IWC client is a frequent traveller, elegant, a sophisticated connoisseur.

Will smartwatches impact luxury watches?
Smartwatches will slightly impact the entry price watch market. However, a watch collector buying a timepiece with a complication is not only purchasing it to read time and date, but also because of his or her passion for the expertise in watchmaking.

How is IWC’s new collection for women doing?
When IWC was founded in 1868, the company already had dedicated timepieces for ladies. Today, IWC is expanding its offering for ladies through the Portofino 37 collection and the Pilot’s watch 36 collection, which are very well perceived.

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