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Girard-Perregaux - Interview with Antonio Calce

Girard-Perregaux Interview with Antonio Calce

In the opinion of the man who has been CEO of Girard-Perregaux since 2015, the Laureato has become a pillar of the brand, helping to create a new face for the company. And not just at the SIHH.

Is it fair to say that the new Laureato family has fulfilled its mission?
What’s interesting is that it feels like Girard-Perregaux launched the Laureato ten years ago, but in fact it only dates back to the 2017 SIHH! Although the model was created in 1975, it was never exploited. The name of the watch is on the lips of many end clients, retailers, journalists and opinion leaders, as if it had been part of the landscape for years. Not only are they talking about it in an extremely positive manner, but sell-out [sales to the final customer] is very good. This product has made a place for itself in the life and the ethos of the brand. Many people say this is because of its positioning, its aesthetic quality, its design and its value for money, which have given Girard-Perregaux a significant presence in strategic points of sale which the brand had previously lost. These days, it’s vital to have extremely solid distribution partners. Wempe, for example, has opened the doors of its boutiques in Germany, London and the United States to us. They were won over by the Laureato and its potential to generate sales. It has sparked a resurgence of interest in Girard-Perregaux, which is enjoying improved consumer confidence, and is entering a new dimension.

Will the Laureato continue to evolve?
All the automatic and complication versions were introduced in 2017. We launched the chronograph in 2018, and deliveries began two months ago. They are having a strong impact, which is a very good sign. The chronograph is designed with a case and bracelet made of 904L steel, a material that only a few watch brands are using. It’s more expensive and more difficult to use, but it’s also more comfortable and more corrosion resistant, and it has a more attractive shine because it is more finely-grained.

At this point, there are 60 Laureato references. We have a genuine strategy in terms of sizes, materials and complications, in different and highly relevant price segments, which we shall indeed continue to develop. At the same time, we’ll be looking harder at all the options, and extending the verticality of the line, expanding it without cannibalising other models.  Design is as important as technical features. For too long we have focused on the mechanical content to the detriment of design, an aspect that is supremely important to today’s clients. The design of the Laureato, with its different finishes, thicknesses and sizes, is very refined. The Laureato has enabled us to reboot our commercial operations and also our brand identity.

What do you mean by that?
Today, our mission is to continue developing a business model that will stand the test of time. The Laureato has transformed the face of the brand in very short order. We are no longer synonymous solely with the Three Bridges for men and the Cat’s Eye for women. People were surprised when we launched the Laureato, even within our company. But today everyone agrees it was the right move.

Along with the 1966, GP’s classic range, which we launched in steel in 2016, the Laureato, our sports-chic line, has continued to balance out GP’s gold/steel offering. In the past, our brand was oriented almost exclusively towards gold.

The Three Bridges strategy is continuing with major design input, and grand complications like the Planetarium triaxial tourbillon. It represents a highly creative option.

You have also restructured your haute horlogerie ranges. How does this benefit the end client?
As well as gaining clarification, clients now have a much wider choice! Girard-Perregaux has always been recognised for its exceptional finishes. Until recently, the haute horlogerie offering was limited to classic pieces. We have succeeded in creating a much more modern selection in terms of materials, finishes and design. Historical codes count, but it is possible to make them more contemporary, for instance in the shape of the bridges or cases. The new structure has given us more options. The Bridge product existed only in tourbillon and classic models, but now the signature Bridge is available in three price segments and two formats (classic and contemporary), which brings us closer to a completely new clientele. The classic range is still made of precious materials, but the contemporary range is not. Next year we will complete the Bridge collection in the intermediate segment, symbolised by one or two complications without the tourbillon. We now have a logical structure, which enables us to generate sales in different price segments.

Are women important to Girard-Perregaux?
More than ever! With Girard-Perregaux, women have a model designed exclusively for them. The Cat’s Eye is not a smaller version of a man’s watch: it represents a family of jewellery watches, with many design features. For the 2019 SIHH we will be working on a fun and feminine product. Women also have a wide choice in the 1966 Lady collection, and an even broader selection in the women’s Laureato line, which completes our choice of watches for women.

What is your approach to e-commerce?
It is a serious priority in our strategy. We have just started working with Farfetch, and we are in discussions with other actors, some of them based more locally. Of course, this approach only applies to references up to a certain price level. It’s for products with prices that are appropriate for online sales. But we’re preparing a complete development strategy.

You moved from Baselworld 2016 to the SIHH in 2017. Did that really change things for you?
Clearly, Geneva is the most relevant venue for us, without hesitation, for operational strategy and positioning reasons. The people who go to Geneva are the people we’re looking for. It was a good decision.

Have you noticed a GPHG effect, from the two awards you received in 2016?
Girard-Perregaux’ positioning as an haute horlogerie watchmaker is well established, but winning two prizes, one for men (the Tourbillon Watch Prize for the Esmeralda with Three Gold Bridges) and one for women (the Ladies’ High-Mech Prize for the Cat’s Eye Tourbillon with Gold Bridge) in the same year was a significant mark of recognition, and it has had a very beneficial effect on our brand vision. In all humility, I see it as an additional confirmation that we are going in the right direction, and a recognition of the work accomplished by our watchmakers and creatives. We will be entering several new models again this year.

The brand

Ever since 1791, Girard-Perregaux has been pursuing its course in the best tradition of Fine Watchmaking. The Maison’s history has been characterised by legendary timepieces that combine cutting-edge design with innovative technology.

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