A L'Émeraude A Gem of Swiss Watch Retail
Set in the heart of downtown Lausanne, A l’Emeraude has offered the very best of fine watchmaking since 1909.
In this age of corporate expansion and luxury conglomerates, the family-run business retains a special aura, embodying a certain level of client intimacy that seems all too rare nowadays. Especially in luxury watch retail, personal relationships are still held sacrosanct, even in the face of a burgeoning online marketplace. One such family-run, family-owned business is the Lausanne watch and jewellery retailer A l’Emeraude.
A l’Emeraude has been located in the Place Saint-François and its environs since it was founded close to 110 years ago, on 24 December 1909. From its very first days, the company has been an active supporter of its native city, sponsoring and participating in various events on the Lausanne social calendar. Such integration and commitment to the city and its community are richly repaid, as company director Derek Cremers is able to proudly share that A l’Emeraude primarily serves a local (and highly loyal) clientele.
A L'Emeraude, in Lausanne © A L'Emeraude
The Cremers family acquired A l’Emeraude in 2004, gradually adding a number of small independent watch brands to their already-impressive portfolio of more well-known brands. In line with their increasingly influential role in shaping the regional watch market, the boutique space was extended in 2017, bringing the total floor area to over 400 sq m.
Today, the watch brands of A l’Emeraude are as follows: Patek Philippe, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, F.P. Journe, Hublot, Panerai, IWC, Voutilainen, Ulysse Nardin, De Bethune, Breitling, Tudor and Romain Gauthier. Uniquely in Switzerland, the floor space of A l’Emeraude is configured to have a boutique exclusively for Rolex and Patek Philippe, separate but adjacent to the duplex boutique showcasing the rest of their partners.
© A L'Emeraude
The thoroughly modern boutique interiors are accentuated by displays that discreetly reinforce the long history of mechanical watchmaking. A wall of Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clocks, from early 20th-century models to recent pieces designed by Marc Newson, greets visitors as they enter. On the first floor, a warmly inviting client Atelier Salon that can be converted into a private event space is decorated with historical watchmaking instruments. (Also on the first floor is a service atelier, occupied by a watchmaker who performs in-house maintenance and repairs.)
© A L'Emeraude
A l’Emeraude demonstrates the key position that local retailers can continue to hold in the 21st century. On the whole, watch brands only began their own retail operations very recently. The consumer-facing side of the watch business mostly relied on watch manufacturers working with a trusted network of partners, whose long-time understanding and familiarity of local markets allowed brands to focus their resources on creation and production. That was how the watch industry used to be. Today, most major watch brands have invested heavily in establishing market subsidiaries all over the world, bringing a significant percentage of retail and distribution operations in house.
The retail landscape may be changing rapidly in the new millennium, but for a retail icon such as A l’Emeraude — a stalwart of the Lausanne watch scene for over a century — the old ways of maintaining a face-to-face and personal approach are still the best ways, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of their customers.
© A L'Emeraude
As the only Swiss multi-brand retail space with a dedicated boutique for Rolex and Patek Philippe, A l’Emeraude represents the perfect balance of the fine watch industry. On one side, anchored by brands representing the highest levels of commercial success and prestige. On the other side, the full and intricate range of diverse creativity that mechanical watchmaking has to offer.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming interview with A l’Emeraude director Derek Cremers, who discusses the special role played by independent watchmakers in our industry today.
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