< IN PERSON >
At the opening of their first Indian boutique at the Emporio Mall in Delhi, Jerome Lambert, CEO, Jaeger-Le Coultre, discloses to Mitrajit Bhattacharya that the focus is on quality and not quantity
How do you perceive your role as the largest manufacture at Vallée de Joux?
The good thing about being the largest manufacture is that it somehow equates to a big responsibility in your capacity to develop superfine chips as well as to keep going from one generation to another. So we have leadership in techniques, knowledge, as well as responsibility linked to that leadership that we have to assume and conceive for the future.
How big are you in terms of workforce?
A little more than one thousand people.
And your repertoire of movements?
We have around 66 different frequencies of movements in our collection.
In terms of production, where do you see yourself ?
A couple of years ago, we decided to strategically focus on the technical side while remaining in line with the cult status given to our iconic lines such as the Reverso and the Master Control. For us, that has created a qualitative growth, but in terms of quantity, we do a little bit more than what we did ten years ago, though not substantially. We have doubled the average selling price in four years and that is really a big thing.
Could you also tell us a bit about the Heritage Gallery?
Jaeger-LeCoultre has existed for more than 175 years. During all these years, we have kept our watchmaking activity to creating movements. As a brand, we have created more than 1,200 movements, which is the largest number by any watchmaker. It is important for us to be able to show what we have done. The gallery was a perfect tool to showcase the history. We hold exhibitions on particular themes every year. Last year it was dedicated to the LeCoultre family. This year it’s dedicated to sound and music, where you can explain different recorded sounds, the mechanics of sounds, etc.
With regards to Reverso Squadra, how was the reaction?
We received more than 25 international prizes for the watch. In France, its’ reception was great. With Navy Seals, the Grande Tradition and the Grande Reverso this year, we have seen new pillars of creativity to sustain the development of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
What is the highlight of Master Compressor Extreme LAB?
Master Compressor Extreme LAB is like a Formula One racing car. It needs such a high level of tuning and perfection that it is a lot harder to produce than any other complication on earth.
What makes Reverso Triptyque special?
It is the first watch ever with three faces and 18 complications. If you consider the Power Reserve as one too, it would be19.
What has the impact of recession been on Jaeger-LeCoultre?
Firstly, we have to accept that we will not grow by 20 to 30 per cent a year. From a very high rate of growth, we have come to a more reasonable rate of growth. When you are in production of movements, cases and watches, you need to be a lot sensitive. We have adjusted our sales force too. We have been prudent with the staff, so that we do not have to make any major layoffs. So far, we have managed well.
What would you say about the growing strength of Asia and India in particular?
India is present more in terms of highend clients; though it’s not even one per cent of the total turnover. So there is discrepancy between the importance of high-end clients and global importance of the market.
Do we see more boutiques coming up in India in the future?
Everything is a question of timing. Our first objective this year is to open eight boutiques that have already been identified.