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A. Lange & Söhne - Interview with Cristian Salas, Brand Manager Latin America

A. Lange & Söhne Interview with Cristian Salas, Brand Manager Latin America

WorldTempus spoke to A. Lange & Söhne’s happy man in Mexico in a week in which he sold four of the brand’s most expensive timepieces and scooped the Tiempo de Relojes award for one of them.

He has only been responsible for the Saxon brand in Latin America since 1 April this year, but before that he had worked for Vacheron Constantin since 2008. At this year’s SIAR in Mexico, Cristian Salas shared his insights for selling watches in the Latin American market.

How important is Mexico as one of your markets?
Among all the political and economic instability in the region, Mexico is the strongest market for us. I think it is for most brands, but for A. Lange & Söhne this is definitely the case. The Caribbean market also does well but it’s seasonal, from December until April. Mexico does well all year round and sells to locals. It’s a very mature market when it comes to fine watchmaking. Many of the world’s most important watch collectors are Mexican and I have heard that the world’s biggest collector of minute repeaters is Mexican. Somebody already asked me for a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater for this person.

Does that explain why the brand returned to the SIAR after a one-year absence?
Yes. I was a little sceptical at first but I have seen that, even though we were not in a very strategic location within the SIAR, this does not necessarily matter. I think a person who really wants to see A. Lange & Söhne timepieces will find us wherever we are.  And when they do find us they already come with knowledge of the brand and grand complications.

A.Lange&Sohne Cristian Sala

What is the most popular collection in the market?
The Lange 1 collection is our best seller. It is recognisable and it is our iconic model. When it comes to complications it’s the Zeitwerk, because everybody loves the Zeitwerk. I personally like the 1815s, especially the split-seconds model.

Do you see any impact from the Terraluna model winning the calendar watch prize at the GPHG last year as far afield as Latin America?
To be honest, not really. Collectors may be familiar with it, but many people do not even understand what the Geneva Seal is, even though several brands use it. But they are very knowledgeable about the brand itself.

Where do you think this knowledge comes from?
They read about the brand in magazines and go online, of course, but this is where the SIAR comes in. For people who are not lucky enough to go to the SIHH or Baselworld, the SIAR is often the only chance to see the latest watches from a brand. Even I only saw the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and the Richard Lange Terraluna here for the first time.

What about Brazil? A. Lange & Söhne is not present there because of various economic barriers. Do you think that this is likely to change in the near future?
The problem is the devaluation of the currency and that there are five different taxes, one on top of the other. To put a watch into a retailer’s window in Brazil you have to subsidise it so much that you would not make any money. And to send just one or two watches, as would be the case for us, we would probably actually lose money.

Mexicans can be quite impulsive when it comes to buying watches and other luxury goods. How do you manage this, given that availability is restricted by production capacity at A. Lange & Söhne?
It’s funny because people are prepared to wait if they order a Ferrari, so I use this analogy. I tell customers we are exactly the same because of the limits of production. Some people are not prepared to wait for two months, but I think in these cases it is because they really do not understand. When I put things into perspective, they understand. Just two hours ago someone asked me about the availability of a Zeitwerk and I had to tell him the earliest we could get one would be the start of the next fiscal year, which for Richemont is from 1st April 2016.


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