Raymond Weil The art of fine-tuning
Inspired as ever by music, Raymond Weil orchestrated a fine-tuning of its existing collections for 2013; maestro Olivier Bernheim explains how and why.
Proudly underlining its independence and family ties, Raymond Weil has established a place of its own in the world of watchmaking – with Olivier Bernheim firmly at the helm of a company founded in the 1970s by his father-in-law Raymond Weil but gradually paving the way for the new generation: his sons Elie and Pierre have been working at the firm for several years now and have recently launched a new brand with a lower average price range called 88 Rue du Rhône. “We are now a small watch group!”, enthuses Mr. Bernheim.
Family and versatility
Of course, Raymond Weil remains the trump card of the family business. “We’ve been able to remain one of the strongest Swiss brands with affordable prices, a certain degree of technicality and irreproachable quality”, he says. One of the subtrends seen at Baselworld, among all the new launches and the so-called ‘Talking Pieces’, was the optimization (call it rationalization) of existing collections and the Geneva-based brand did just that: its catalogue has been fine-tuned to the point that this year there weren’t any revolutionary products or new lines but rather improvements and variations on existing series.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any exciting products; on the contrary, Nabucco has turned into an interesting collectible item with a new different model each year and, after last year’s introduction of a smaller 43 mm version to complement the virile 46 mm case, there are actually several new references for 2013.
The Nabucco’s name is inspired by the legendary Verdi opera. Almost every Raymond Weil line is christened after musical themes – a family trait, since Diana, Olivier Bernheim’s wife and daughter of founder Raymond Weil, was a professional pianist. “The company is ours, we like what we do and we are proving that an independent family enterprise like ours is able to blossom among the ‘monsters’ represented by the big groups in the watch industry”, states Olivier Bernheim, who’s 59 and has been at the head of Raymond Weil for 31 years.
Evolution vs Revolution
“We provide an alternative along with creativity and open-mindedness – to me, it’s been a challenge to prove to everyone that it is indeed possible to be a successful independent brand”, he says. “There will always be a place for the independent brands; we just have to be faster and adapt better than the big luxury conglomerates while listening to the people instead of worrying too much about the stock market, the stock holders or the stock options!”
The focus behind this year’s new models was on evolution rather than revolution: “We have five lines and three core collections – Freelancer, Maestro and Jasmine. We have worked a lot on the evolution of those specific lines. The market is going through tough times and our clients need to be more reassured than surprised; they need to feel there’s continuity and see how much work we put into each model. We have also reworked the base of the pyramidby redoing the Tango line. We came up with something different for the Nabucco, with a model featuring TWELVE appearing in capital letters on the dial and also a version with an open dial to show the balance wheel. On the other hand, we have put the Don Giovanni collection on hold”.
More mechanical and feminine
So, which of the new models introduced at Baselworld should be pointed out as the star of the collection? “It depends – for me, it’s the evolution of the Jasmine collection. The Maestro also became a reference with its useful complications”, says Olivier Bernheim, eying an emerging feminine force among new potential clients.
“We definitely feel that the mechanical watch is on the upswing; we used to be 95 per cent quartz and 5 per cent mechanical, now it’s 60-40 and even women are buying more and more mechanical models! The modern woman wants to wear a mechanical watch, a big watch, a chronograph, a timepiece boasting several functions”. Yes, indeed – just like men, ladies do look great with a fine mechanical timepiece on their wrist!
At the time of the Brand’s creation in 1976, Raymond Weil wanted to bring luxury Swiss watchmaking within the reach of a wider public. This visionary approach, always dear to the three generations, has enabled the Brand to develop internationally, within the space of only a few decades.Find out more >
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