Louis Vuitton Interview with Hamdi Chatti
WorldTempus spoke to the Vice-President of Watchmaking and Jewellery at Louis Vuitton on the occasion of the inauguration of the new Louis Vuitton facility this week.
What will this new Manufacture in Geneva do for you?
Manufacturing isn’t new to us because we owned the Fabrique du Temps and Léman Cadrans as well as our own case production, but we have now managed to group everything together under the same roof on a single site. Aside from operational reinforcement, this reunification should enhance creativity and bring fruitful synergies, as well as speeding up overall responsiveness. I think the ongoing symbiosis between watchmakers, engineers, dial and case-makers can lead to great ideas while making it easier to bring them to fruition. Finally, being based in Geneva not only pays tribute to the Fabrique du Temps which was born here, but in addition, the presence of the airport enables us to facilitate travel between here and Paris as well as training for our salesforce from all over the world. Not to mention the role Geneva plays as the international capital of Haute Horlogerie, and the use of the Poinçon de Genève which will certainly be stamped on some of our models in the mid-term.
What developments are planned in the mid to long term?
There is room for growth, but initially we want to be sure that everyone is comfortable in the new premises and that the activity is developing well. I have every confidence but let’s take it step by step!
What has Louis Vuitton’s most notable development been in the past decade?
Louis Vuitton’s most notable development in watchmaking took the form of the Tambour watch in 2002: with its strong design and an automatic chronograph movement, it was the founding step of our watchmaking activity.
Then came the powerful launch of the customizable tourbillon in 2006-2007, which made a deep impression on people and took Louis Vuitton into another segment, followed by the Mystérieuse. Parallel to this, we realized that we needed to incorporate a certain number of trades, hence the acquisition of the Fabrique du Temps and then Léman Cadrans, and today the inauguration of our new production unit. We hope to continue in this vein.
Which new releases have brought you the greatest satisfaction?
I would be tempted to list them all, but I can definitely say that the Escale Worldtime we presented at Baselworld last spring deserves a special mention! It’s an absolutely unique watch, born of the synergies between our watchmakers and our heritage department, which resulted in a new idea: the only hand-free worldtime watch! Nonetheless, it fundamentally remains an Haute Horlogerie watch that is relatively classic, round and with quite a slim case, but very different in the way it asserts itself.
On a different note entirely, this year the Emprise collection met the requirements of a segment that was new to us – the shaped watch – while associating with jewelry for the first time. This double jewelry and watch collection is perfectly in line with our expectations.
Do you have equally high ambitions in the realm of jewelry as you do in watchmaking?
Jewelry is a sector that works very well at Louis Vuitton! It enhances the watchmaking offer. If we continue at this rate, it will definitely be able to compete with the watchmaking side of our activities.
Does your integrated distribution network make you stronger or more vulnerable in these uncertain times?
It’s a fantastic opportunity that is proving particularly significant at the moment. Half of our 460 boutiques across the world have a watchmaking range that clients can discover when they first enter this space for handbags, clothes, shoes or jewelry. Clients thereby naturally encounter the Louis Vuitton watch universe, even when they weren’t necessarily thinking of it when they stepped through the door of the boutique. As we are seeing, watchmaking is struggling on certain markets at the moment, so this flow through our boutiques allows us to alleviate the situation.
What challenges await the brand in 2015?
Our goal will as ever be about appealing to a clientele in search of exceptional products that they simply could not find anywhere else.
Twenty years ago, Louis Vuitton boldly ventured into the world of watchmaking with the unveiling of the Tambour watch. Since, the Maison has dreamt up a growing collection of innovative timepieces driven by unparalleled creativity, savoir-faire, and craftsmanship.Find out more >
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