Everyone has been talking about the global meltdown this year because the markets are not doing well overall. How are you approaching the year 2009?
We do not change any plans. Our strategy for 2009 remains the same, which means we carry on working on the new collection that we are presenting every year, on our communication that we renew every year with the celebrities and we have no plan to change the future development of the company because of the situation. It is a reality that the markets are slower, but it has no impact on our strategy at all.
How has your key launch of 2008, Ilea, fared in the market?
Globally, we have had a good year for Ilea and achieved the objectives that we had planned before its launch. Now the product is slowly taking its place in the distribution network too. So we are very happy with this new collection for women. Baume & Mercier did not have any round watch for ladies; we had an old one called Linea that was discontinued. We needed to have a new product line and Ilea filled that gap.
What is the main launch this year?
The first is for the 15th anniversary of the Hampton Collection. We have rejuvenated it with new designs, larger sizes, richer models for women and new products too. Then we have launched a new concept since two years now on sporty watches called Magnum designs. This is a mix of creativity and the sporty attributes on watches of the existing collection. The William Baume Collection of haute horlogerie makes a link between what Baume & Mercier used to do as an haute horlogerie product in the past and what we are doing now to bring back this heritage with modern but also very traditional timepieces. In the haute jewellery line, we have one Ilea, produced in very small quantities.
It is a tough situation all over. How do you see 2009 overall?
We are very cost-centred in our collection. In such a situation, we have to find out the most secure brand value. So, we are focussed in terms of product and communication on our classic watches: the Vintage 1945, the Worldtimer, the 1966, and the Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon. That is really the key highlight of our collection. And in terms of deliveries, we will give priority to our classics. This is our approach largely for this year.
Do you see a change in forecast? Do you still have a growth perspective for 2009 or is it going to be just the same as 2008?
It will be unfair to declare that we will have a growth in the next year. In some markets there is a growth potential. For instance, India is still, for me, the highest potential country in the world. Also, we are going to open some markets in the Middle East where we have not been there before.
Tell us about your key products in this year’s SIHH.
It basically is the 1945 collection. The Vintage 1945 Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon is a new version but with the same case design – a classic automatic one in steel and gold. I believe the steel and gold would benefit each other as one is stronger in communication in terms of visibility and the other has a larger distribution. We also have two new Worldtimers, one very aggressive. For the first time we have a ceramic case. It is called ww.tc Shadow because it is very black. We have also updated our smaller Worldtimer. It is 41 millimetre, a simplified version of the previous one with the power reserve. For ladies, we have two new watches from the Cat’s Eye collection. The Cat’s Eye zodiac symbols is an annual calendar. The other is fully paved with baguette diamonds of over 52 carats. I think it will be the most expensive watch we have ever produced.