A l’Emeraude A l’Emeraude, a different approach to exceptional vintage watches
Interview with Derek Cremers, the establishment’s general manager.
The celebrated and venerable Lausanne watch boutique A l’Emeraude, a favourite haunt of many local watch enthusiasts, now offers an additional service that will delight collectors of exceptional vintage timepieces, in the historic section of its store at 12 Place Saint-François. We interviewed Derek Cremers, the establishment’s general manager.
Our family has collected rare and beautiful timepieces for almost 20 years. It’s our passion. We started collecting Patek Philippe pocket watches because the movements were so beautiful, and then we naturally gravitated towards iconic Patek Philippe and Rolex wristwatches. One example is the Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700 in steel and yellow gold, which is no longer available in a modern version. We have continued to acquire very rare models at auction, most of them watches that genuinely made history. Many are by Patek Philippe and Rolex, but we also have some splendid Breitling Navitimer chronographs, Atmos clocks by Jaeger-LeCoultre, a magnificent Planetarium dating from 1794, remarkable pocket watches by Longines, Ulysse Nardin and Charles Frodsham, as well as some stunning Dunhill lighters with an integrated watch driven by a hand-wound 8-day movement. As well as its content, one distinctive feature of our collection is the absolutely impeccable condition of most of these pieces.
Nautilius © Patek Philippe
But why has it taken this long for vintage pieces to make an appearance in the A l’Emeraude boutique?
Our clients’ primary focus is modern watches, and that is unlikely to change. But for our loyal customers that have relied on our advice for many years, and who have become genuine connoisseurs and collectors, vintage represents a logical evolution – in a way, it’s the ultimate expression of their passion. Not only is it legitimate, it is also essential that we have the ability to respond to these needs, and continue to accompany and guide them in building their magnificent collections.
Given this context, our vintage project was driven by the realisation that the pieces we had acquired constituted a hidden treasure, one that we continue to enrich over time. When we renovated and enlarged our premises three years ago, expanding our sales area from 60 to 260 m2, our intention was to bring this collection out from the shadows. It can now be viewed, exclusively by appointment, in a dedicated area in the historic part of the boutique.
Oyster © Patek Philippe
But in order to bring this project to fruition to the standard of excellence we demand, we needed an expert. And we found him: Loïc Regolatti joined us three years ago. A trained watchmaker and repairer specialising in complications, we had known each other for many years. He is one of the rare watch experts with a deep knowledge of watchmaking history, as well as considerable practical and technical experience. He spent over five years at Sotheby’s, and his expertise is invaluable, particularly when it comes to authenticating watches. He has excellent taste, and an unparalleled understanding of the international market for old timepieces. That is why Loïc was the logical choice for our head of vintage watches.
Will this change the DNA of A l’Emeraude?
No, in fact the opposite is true. This development is completely in line with our values, which include proximity to our customers and the desire to accompany them over time in their watchmaking journey, while continuing to emphasise excellent service. Little by little, we have built up a reputation in Lausanne as a team of experts with a passion for watches. We know our clients, and we are grateful for their loyalty. We know that there’s great interest today in vintage timepieces, particularly the rarer examples, and in this particular domain, expertise and trust make all the difference.
© Patek Philippe
But to come straight to the point, our raison d’être is the same as it has always been: to present the current collections of the major watchmaking houses such as Patek Philippe and Rolex, but also F.P. Journe, Voutilainen, De Bethune, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Hublot, Tudor, Panerai, Ulysse Nardin and Romain Gauthier. We are launching our vintage project with the “blessing” of these established watchmakers. They are complementary activities; they’re not competitive in any way. Vintage helps to preserve the heritage of these brands. By offering vintage watches for sale, and showing them to their best advantage, we are paying tribute.
Will you be promoting your vintage lines heavily?
No, our communication will be deliberately low-key. With the exception of our wall display of Atmos clocks, a visual signature arranged in two six-metre columns at the store entrance, there will be no vintage timepieces on display. It is vitally important to us to guarantee the greatest discretion and exclusivity for this collection.
Navitimer © Breitling
Loïc will see interested clients by appointment only. They will be welcomed in the dedicated area in the historic part of the boutique, in front of the “cabinet of curiosities”. There they will be able to discuss their requirements and look at the exclusive models selected. We will also host themed dinners for very select groups, to introduce our clients to the history and development of a particular model in an unusual and intimate setting. This is all part of our approach of developing our relationships with our customers, by taking the level of the advice we give to the highest degree of personalisation.
In our view, the most important thing has always been to continue to develop our long-term relationships with our clients, while maintaining the greatest respect for our partners. The realisation of the A l’Emeraude vintage project further reinforces our commitment to these values.
Oyster © Rolex
(*) Editor’s note: Located in a building dating back to 1898, the A l’Emeraude boutique comprises two arcades symmetrically arranged on either side of the entrance to the building. On the left is the historic section of A l’Emeraude, which has 150 m2 of sales area over two floors. A second arcade of 110 m2 on the right is dedicated exclusively to Patek Philippe and Rolex, a unique arrangement in Switzerland.
From humble family beginnings Breitling grew into a major player in the world of chronographs and aviation instruments. At the dawn of a new era, the brand is poised for a legendary future.Find out more >
Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.Find out more >