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The event shows the Swatch Group’s commitment to the Middle-East and brings together its distributors and retailers in the region
Whatever Swatch Group does, it does it in style! No wonder, the venue of the recently concluded Mini Basel this year was the gigantic new hotel, The Atlantis, Dubai. It provided the right venue for Swatch Group dealers to get together. Organised meticulously, under the watchful eyes of Nayla Hayek, Swatch Group’s boss of the region which includes India, the event was a super success. Started a few years back, Mini Basel has acquired an important status in the calendar of all Swatch Group watch retailers. This is an event where they can all meet the brand teams, check out the new offerings and reassess their orders placed during the Basel fair held in April. All the brands active in the region, like Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Leon Hatot, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Longines, Swatch, Rado, Tissot, etc. participate in this event.
Though a private event and usually not covered by media, Watch World was present this year to take a ringside view of the proceedings. On the sidelines of the Mini Basel, we caught up with the Presidents of brands like Glashütte Original, Leon Hatot and Breguet.
“Our Jewellery Will Complement The Saree”
Arlette Elsa-Emch, member, Executive Board, Swatch Group and the President of Leon Hatot says that the luxury brand plans to enter India with more watches and less jewellery
Can you dwell on the thought that goes behind organising ‘Mini Basel’?
When we are at the Basel show, which is normally held in April, we display what we develop for the year. Since the event is too crowded, we try to make contact again in a more personal way at the Mini Basel. Also, what we show at the Basel are the prototypes while Mini Basel is more like the beginning of a new story.
Many a time, we see a single product at the Basel show.
Exactly. And now, around this time, we are ready with our normal production. This contact is necessary because this part of the world (the Middle East) is very important for us and we don’t have a subsidiary here, like the rest of the world.
How many boutiques do you have in all?
We have boutiques in Place Vendôme (Paris), Cannes, Geneva, Tokyo and Korea. We are not in a hurry to open more boutiques since that would mean an increase in production. To me real luxury is hand-made like our products. We need to have a collection to open boutiques around the world.
Is it true that most of your sales are through your boutiques?
Besides our own boutiques, the Middle East and the Asian market figure prominently in our scheme of things. Russia, Kazakhstan, and other parts of the ex- Soviet Union, are also important to us. We plan to enter India this year. We will go step–by-step, because as I said, we need to increase our production capacity to deliver around the world.
How much does jewellery contribute to your sales…?
It’s 60 per cent jewellery and 40 per cent watches.
What is so special about Léon Hatot jewellery?
To understand Léon Hatot jewellery, one has to understand the brand. Léon Hatot was a jeweller in the beginning of the 20th century. He was influenced by the art deco movement. For me art deco is probably the most interesting period in art. It marked the arrival of Picasso and other important painters.
Early 20th century also marked the beginning of women’s movement around the world. Chanel taught women to be free as far as clothes were concerned. To her, the movement was for freedom. Léon Hatot jewellery reflects this — the essence of art deco and the modern perception of being a woman.
How is it different from other brands like Harry Winston?
Harry Winston is classic, while we are more contemporary. Well, we are trendsetters. For instance, we work with stones. But the way we showcase them is different.
What would be your strategy for a market like India, which is otherwise so dominated by local jewellers and flavours?
We will start mostly with our watches because I think the best way to grow in India is to convince people with watches, since they do not produce many watches. We will go 80 per cent watches and 20 per cent jewellery. I am sure that with time we will be able to convince the Indian women to discover something different.
I have noticed that in India women have started clothing themselves in Western wear which was not the fact 10 years ago. It is a sign that something is changing.
Do you think that a design so eternal like Léon Hatot will go with the traditional saree?
Yes, it will. It will complement the saree. Most importantly, when the saree is rethought in a modern way.
Would boutiques be a part of your plans for India as well?
Of course. But not immediately.