Jaeger-LeCoultre: Spending time with Brand Director, Marc de Panafieu
Tradition over fashion
Knowledge and appreciation of fine watch-making is at its early stages here in the Middle East but it's growing rapidly. With so many brands to consider and many more watch collections to explore, Jaeger-LeCoultre's Brand Manager Marc de Panafieu shares with Buro 24/7 Middle East how the brand stays strong and why the luxury timepieces should be on your watch wish list...
Watches are a huge part of accessorising in this region. Do you see a difference between how people wear watches here compared to other parts of the world?
In this market, the idea of luxury is more accepted and so it's not rare to see people wearing exceptional timepieces on a daily basis. I come across a lot of people who wear a watch on a daily basis that someone in Europe would keep in a safe and take out only on special occasions. That's one of the main differences; the rapport people have with their luxuries. It's more acceptable in this region to display luxury.
Speaking of luxury, what would be your advice to people who want to experiment with different brands?
First of all, you must have an idea of the watch you want to buy and from this idea you make a selection of 3-5 brands. I would advise someone to avoid the latest trends and fashion. I will also tell them to follow their feelings. You should try on the watches because you will certainly have more connection with one watch over another. You look at it on your wrist, how it looks in the mirror, you caress the watch, and then you will say: 'For some reason (which I can't explain), I like this one better'. I would start with the rational process and end with an emotional one.
Where does Jaeger-LeCoultre stand amongst the many fine watch-makers, and why would someone consider the brand?
We are a manufacturer that has been around for over 180 years and we are here to stay. We are recognised as a true fine watch-making manufacturer who has credibility, history and reputation, and recognised as a leading force in fine watch-making. If you say 'grande complication' to a watch-making connoisseur, there's a strong chance he will associate it with Jaeger-LeCoultre because we do everything inhouse and we master the art of fine watch-making and complications.
What are some of the brand's best timepieces?
Our Reverso was invented in 1931 so next year will be its 85th anniversary. It is the only timepiece where you get three faces. Then there is our most expensive piece: the Gyro Tourbillon 1, costing EUR1 million and features 24-carat diamonds. In addition, we launched two new Geophysic models this October; one universal time that tells you time in 24 different cities while the other includes a patented 'true second' mechanism. Our watchmakers are constantly developing new ideas. We have developed over 1200 calibers and we have patented over 400 inventions. This gives you an idea of the sheer volume of brain activity that happens at the manufacturing plant.
Should a watch for women be any different?
Firstly, it's true that Jaeger-LeCoultre is wrongly perceived as a men's brand. We may initially had more men's watches than women's watches but the Rendez-Vous line that we launched in 2007 has proven to be very successful. Also, we focus on watch-making content. We never say that women do not need complications and need only stones. No, we don't do that. We don't ever say complications for men and nice beautiful watches for women. When we work on a timepiece it's because of the watch-making content. Maybe the first connection with a watch for women may be driven more by the aesthetics but it doesn't mean that when we start talking about the watch-making content, it does not interest women.
Do you see Smartwatches as a threat?
I say no, because it's not even in the same sport. Furthermore, I doubt there will be a vintage market for Smartwatches in the future whereas there will still be a market for mechanical watches. We build pieces that are meant to last through time and in our museum we have pieces that are more than a hundred years old. To be honest, I also don't have much emotion when I look at a technological piece of equipment no matter how amazing it is. When you look at our timepieces and when you visit the manufacturer, you see how much time, effort and tradition is put into these pieces. There is a lot of emotion in it.
What are the future plans for Jaeger-LeCoultre?
We can't tell you but as usual we will unveil all our novelty watches at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) next year in Geneva. However, we can say that with the anniversary of the Reverso, it means that a strong focus would be put on that particular watch.
Jaeger-LeCoultre watches are sold in Rivoli watch boutiques across the UAE. A full list of stores can be found on rivoligroup.com