Talking Watches, brand performance and current retail challenges with Alexander Schmiedt, Regional Brand Director Middle East & Sub-Continent, Vacheron Constantin - Richemont (Dubai) FZE




Talking Watches, brand performance and current retail challenges with Alexander Schmiedt, Regional Brand Director Middle East & Sub-Continent, Vacheron Constantin - Richemont (Dubai) FZE

Earlier this year you have opened a boutique in Riyadh and an extension of the UAE boutique - Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. Hence, two boutiques in one year with further enhancement to the retail network is quite a lot of investment on the brand. Can you elaborate on your future expansion plans for the region?

We are actually continuing what we have been doing for the past 3 years. You can summarize Vacheron Constantin as a Maison for connoisseurs and an exclusive brand. This exclusivity is what we actually translate into everything we do, be it marketing or product, as well as the way we offer our brand experience. Our strategy is based on ‘less is more’, we have accordingly always focused on fewer points of sale with better quality of service and a more satisfying customer experience. What you see today is a strategic shift from the multi-brand distribution set-up to a truly mono-brand experience. We have two boutiques in UAE, at Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, and five partnered outlets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and in Bahrain as well. We emphasize on an exclusive customer experience that will be no different whether you are walking into a boutique in Tokyo, Dubai, Riyadh or anywhere else in the world for that matter. We are investing significantly on this new concept in Dubai and Riyadh, bringing our retail experience to the level that relates to our Maison’s image.

With what is going around the region in terms of economic challenges, do you feel your plans are optimistic or realistic?

We took a long-term perspective of our entire business, and not just in the Middle East. We started investing in the region three years ago with a significant brand presence in mind for our global product. You cannot do this for just one year and stop, so definitely it is something we will continue doing. We are clearly getting the fruits of our labor as the brand is well established and has a very strong visibility over the last three years. While we have significantly gained from the growing tourist inflow into the region, our primary focus is to improve the local market share by developing a core loyal, local customer clientele. In this regard, I believe our plans are realistic and positive, economic fluctuations notwithstanding. We, as a professional organization, would never go over-optimistic. So far, we have well managed the situation, met all the objectives and in fact, even outgrown some. We have big projects lined up in the region in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the GCC region.

What is the growth potential that Vacheron Constantin is expecting from this region? What are the areas, which have not been covered yet? And what are the opportunities that you think the Middle East will hold for your brand? 

The potential is clearly there though not in terms of volume sales. Vacheron Constantin is not a volume brand, so for us the potential is in terms of value and worth. Put in simpler terms, it means a fewer number of boutiques with the best brand quality experience for our clients. Our aim is to provide interesting products, gain valued customers and we are in a unique position for that. If you look at the region, we are already very strong and well established in Dubai, we have a strong presence in Kuwait and are significantly growing all around the region. I would say that one major market we look at in the next few years is Saudi Arabia. We just opened a new boutique in Riyadh, and we believe the Kingdom holds great potential for us in the years to come. 

Obviously, with such growth possibilities there ought to be possible challenges too. What are the present challenges for a brand like Vacheron Constantin?

When you look at what we have done these past few years, I think we managed the challenges quite well. Vacheron Constantin has a long heritage in the Middle East, but until recently, our image was traditional and historic. Yes, we do have a heritage of 264 years, which is no small thing, but it is not about being old nor old fashioned. Having such a heritage allows you to do things others cannot and it may be something that is both very traditional and extremely modern at the same time. We feel one can be rejuvenated without changing the DNA and have been trying to do so for the past few years by staying with our existing customers and bringing in the new generation. Popularity with the masses has never been our objective. As said previously, Vacheron Constantin is not a volume brand; we do not want everybody to have a Vacheron Constantin. We want the real connoisseurs to appreciate and acquire the brand, and you do have many of them in the Middle East. This is clearly one segment of clients that we have been working on and we really see them coming back to the product lines that we have launched:  Overseas, Fiftytsix, Historiques... They are exactly the products that were pre-sold in the market and the buyers include some who were new to the brand. A significant segment that we are yet to concentrate, but has always been part of the DNA of Vacheron Constantin, is women. We are aware that the Middle East is a very important market for women, not only for jewellery but watches as well. It is a segment that we have not tapped yet, only because we believe in doing one thing at a time. We have been fostering and rejuvenating the brand, focusing on men over the last few years, and soon you will find us serving women with the same spirit and commitment, bringing them exclusive offerings with true value. I believe this will be a major stride in Vacheron Constantin’s journey to greater success.

We would like to know what Vacheron Constantin approach to e-commerce is.

Today you do not have offline customers and online customers anymore. You have a customer who decides where he wants to interact with the brand. I believe people continue to patronize Vacheron Constantin because they perceive it as an investment. In the future I think we have to give our clients the choice to experience our brand in a consistent high quality in all channels, be it a Boutique or a partner store – or online. However, there will be no specific strategy for the Middle East in this regard. It will fall within the global strategy of the brand and it shall be embedded in the global strategy of Richemont Group.


Market News


UAE private sector creates 40,000 jobs due to economic activity

The number of new jobs created by the UAE’s private sector during the second quarter of 2019 reached 40,000, excluding jobs in free zones, reflecting the activity of the labour market supported by positive developments in the national economy. According to the UAE Central Bank, the national economy posted a year-on-year growth of 2.2 percent at fixed prices in the second quarter of this year. The private sector is continuing to create new job opportunities, increasing the total number of its workers to 5.1 million workers in the second quarter of 2019, according to 5.06 million workers in the first quarter.


New airport terminal opens at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened Jeddah airport’s new terminal, state media said, part of a push to increase foreign visitors to the kingdom and diversify its oil-based economy. Jeddah is the main airport where pilgrims arrive before travelling on to Mecca to perform Haj and the Umrah, the year-round lesser pilgrimage. The inauguration of the new Terminal 1 of King Abdul Aziz International Airport brings the facility to 810,000 square metres with the capacity to handle 30 million passengers annually, state news agency SPA said. The airport operates flights to three international destinations and 21 domestic ones.


UAE ready to launch largest budget ever

The UAE’s federal budget for 2020 will increase by 2 per cent, up from the 2019 budget of Dh60.3 billion. The Financial and Economic Committee, chaired by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance announced. The committee has allocated 42.3 per cent of the budget to social development; 17 per cent of the 2020 budget to education; while 7.3 per cent will go for the health sector. This year’s (2019) budget is already the largest federal budget in the country’s history.


Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils its new boutique at Mall of the Emirates

Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to bring deft craftsmanship and fine watchmaking excellence to Dubai, with the launch of its newest and second boutique in the city at Mall of the Emirates. Building on the brand's retail vision, the Mall of the Emirates boutique proposes a new concept that blends in perfectly with the current codes offering clients a sophisticated atmosphere. This new experience ties in with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s identity; an ode to a rich history of 185 years, a celebration of the Maison’s iconic savoir-faire and the art of precision. The Grande Maison pays tribute again to its spirit of inventiveness upheld by 180 specialist skills all under roof.


Company News


Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is awarded the prestigious Prix Gaïa 2019 “Spirit of Enterprise”

At a ceremony attended by his family, amongst others, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele was awarded the Prix Gaïa by Régis Huguenin, curator of the Musée International de l’Horlogerie (MIH) and president of the jury in recognition of the growth and international recognition he has achieved for the family business, as well as the development of new watchmaking entities by effectively balancing humanism, fine craftsmanship and innovation.


Cara Delevingne is the new face of Dior Joaillerie

Cara Delevingne is the newest face for Dior's fine-jewelry collection, Joaillerie. The British actress and model has a history with the luxury brand as she currently is the face of its Addict Stellar Shine lipstick. Delevingne will start by fronting Joaillerie's Rose des Vents campaign, which is inspired by Christian Dior's travels around the world and combines the house's iconic star motif with Mr. Dior's favorite flower, the rose.


MAXXI and Bvlgari join forces to support young talents in the arts

Giulia Cenci, Tomaso De Luca and Renato Leotta are the three shortlisted artists for the MAXXI BVLGARI PRIZE, the project bringing together MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts and Bvlgari, an emblem of Italian excellence for over 130 years to support and promote young artists. The three finalists and the new edition of the PRIZE, the outcome of the long standing partnership between MAXXI and Bvlgari, were presented at the Bvlgari Hotel in London by Giovanna Melandri, President of the Fondazione MAXXI and Nicola Bulgari, Vice President of the Bvlgari Group, a great supporter of the MAXXI BVLGARI PRIZE, a passionate collector and patron of the arts.


Van Cleef & Arpels announces the opening of its first heritage exhibition in the Middle East

Van Cleef & Arpels has announced the opening of its first heritage exhibition in the Middle East - Treasures and Legends. Taking place from 10 to 31 October 2019 at the boutique in Dubai Opera Plaza, the Maison portrays expert craftsmanship showcasing over 50 High Jewelry treasures and precious objects. Along the years, Van Cleef & Arpels has captivated an international clientele with its creativity, its collection of excellent stones and its enchanting universe. The “Treasures & Legends” exhibition spans more than a century of creations from precious objects to exceptional orders. 


Product Launch


Chopard launches the new Alpine Eagle

Born from the legacy of Chopard's iconic St. Moritz, the Alpine Eagle serves as a modern reinterpretation of this timeless, sport-chic design. Every exquisite detail of this new icon is matched with a purpose that makes the Alpine Eagle a uniquely versatile timepiece. Developed over four years, Chopard Lucent Steel A223 is a masterful feat of function and form. Prized for its signature radiance, this uniquely durable, hypoallergenic, and scratch-resistant material offers superior performance with a truly striking visual appeal transforming the dream of Renaissance alchemists into glowing reality.


Audemars Piguet’s new Millenary Frosted Gold Aventurine

Audemars Piguet presents a new Millenary timepiece, the Millenary Frosted Gold Aventurine. Aventurine glass was created in the 17th century thanks to a chance manipulation (“all’avventura”) in a Murano glass factory when copper filings were dropped into cooling molten glass, creating a constellation of sparkling particles. Today, this glass is obtained by introducing black copper oxide and cobalt, which colours the glass in blue. This hint of outer space is contained by the 18-carat white gold case finished with Frosted Gold on the case sides, bezel, inner bezel and lugs – a technique that Audemars Piguet owes to jewellery designer Carolina Bucci.


El Primero Revival A384 by Zenith

50 years since its introduction in 1969, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the El Primero calibre, as well as the anniversary of the first watch to feature the revolutionary movement, the El Primero A384. With its distinct and instantly recognizable design, the A384 brought a new sense of style and substance to the world of chronographs, becoming a collectible icon. Now, the El Primero A384 makes its return in the form of a Revival series. More than just a vintage inspired watch, the Revival is a historically accurate recreation of one of the most emblematic chronographs ever made.


BELL & ROSS launches BR05 exclusively for ONLY WATCH 2019 displays in Dubai

Bell & Ross has launched a new collection: BR05 exclusively for ONLY WATCH 2019. A unique piece: the BR05 skeleton gold blue is the ultimate watch for urban explorers. The 2019 ONLY WATCH charity auction, one of the most looked for events of the watchmaking year, the 50 unique lots that compose the collection are leaving for a world tour. The 10 stop-over cities will have the privilege of welcoming the most beautiful selection of unique watches ever gathered to finance research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The watches were displayed in Dubai, at Christie’s, in association with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons from 1 to Thursday 3 October.


MB&F launches HM9 ‘Flow’ watches in Red Gold

Presenting Horological Machine N°9 ‘Flow’, inspired by the dynamic profiles of automotive and aviation mid-century design. In 2019, MB&F presents two new limited editions in 5N+ red gold with 18 pieces each: the "Air" version with blackened movement and rhodium-plated balance wheels; the "Road" version with rhodium-plated movement and red gold balance wheels.


The New Montblanc Star Legacy Moonphase & Date for Ladies

After the introduction of the Montblanc Star Legacy Small Seconds 32 mm and 36 mm in stainless steel and 18K rose gold, Montblanc now presents the new Star Legacy Moonphase & Date. Like all the Star Legacy timepieces for ladies, the dial is highlighted by a distinctive diamond ring that encircles the small second counter at 6 o’clock. This new Star Legacy Moonphase & Date comes in a 36-mm stainless-steel case with a silvery-white dial enhanced by black rhodium-coated, Arabic numerals, indexes and leaf-shaped hands. It is fitted with a Sfumato alligator strap from the Richemont Pelletteria in varying shades of grey and is powered by an automatic movement, the Calibre MB24.08.


NOMOS Glashütte introduces Tetra plum

Introducing a brand-new timepiece from NOMOS Glashütte that is not afraid to make a statement: Tetra plum. It features a rich purple dial that pays tribute to nature’s bounty. Measuring 29.5 by 29.5 millimeters, Tetra plum has a character all of its own—and additional functionality. The eye-catching complication between twelve and one o’clock is a power reserve indicator, reminding the wearer when it is time to wind the watch. Tetra plum is powered by the hand-wound NOMOS caliber DUW 4301, which also features the NOMOS swing system—itself a fruit of many years of labor.


AEROWATCH presents Intuition Lady Diamonds

Aerowatch has presented its new Intuition collection that lives up to everything modern women expect of an unusual timepiece. Endowed with exceptionally female attributes, the Intuition is decidedly seductive. The magically iridescent white mother-of-pearl dial is decorated with two black overlapping “art-déco” ovals as an expression of exquisite taste. The blue leaf-shaped hands underscore timeless elegance and emphasize the harmonious design of the Intuition. The bezel is set with 30 sparkling diamonds as a noble finishing touch for this ladies’ watch featuring a Swiss quartz movement.


Vhernier’s Eyeliner Pavé Calla

Vhernier’s full pave´ is famous for its smoothness and extreme brilliance. The Eyeliner is a new diamond setting, a carpet of large and small stones that calls attention to the apparent casualness with which the stones are arranged. Extremely luminous, the diamonds are further highlighted by the tone of the white gold base in which they are fitted. Vhernier chose to finish the weaved base with a special rhodium treatment; a dramatic effect that makes the stones the true stars of the piece.


Exhibitions & Events


VOD Dubai International Jewellery Show 2019

From November 13 to 16, VOD Dubai International Jewellery Show 2019 (VOD DIJS), will see a selection of top local and international exhibitors coming into contact with leading decision-makers and trendsetters from the jewellery world, involving producers and large-scale wholesalers, distributors and retailers as well as the end consumer. Now at its third edition, the Show has confirmed its role as a reference for the gold-jewellery market in the strategic location of Dubai, a crucial hub for industry and an outpost in the Middle East for Italian Exhibition Group, Italy’s leading company in the organization of its own trade show events which, with its Jewellery Agenda and VICENZAORO brand, is present at some of the most representative events dedicated to jewellery and gold art on the international scene.


Watch & Jewellery Middle East Show

Over 500 exhibitors in the gem and jewellery industry gathered in Sharjah for the 47th Watch and Jewellery Middle East show. The show was held from October 1 to 5 at Expo Centre Sharjah and inaugurated by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah. A highlight of the event this year was a Guinness World Record-holding ring, which is studded with 7,777 pieces of diamonds. It was not on sale, but it has an estimated value of $4.9 million (Dh17.9 million). According to the figures from the Federal Customs Authority, the UAE’s trade in gold and precious stone has been on the rise.


Celebrity News


Adriana Lima sparkles with Chopard at the Gala for the Global Ocean hosted by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

Adriana Lima selected earrings featuring 17.74 carats of fancy-cut diamonds and 5.53 carats of diamonds from the “Haute Joaillerie Collection”.


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