The CEO of the 283 year old Swiss watch brand Favre Leuba (now owned by the Tata Group), Philippe Roten, made a significant observation at a recent webinar held for the Indian audience, where he expressed that the watch industry had slipped into complacency as a result of favourable markets, year on. Roten was one of the panellists at a webinar hosted by Luxe Talks on “Luxury in the New World Order”. He addressed an Indian audiences for the first time, and spoke on various topical issues surrounding the luxury watch industry including the impact of COVID-19.
While Philippe Roten concedes that the watch industry will face challenges in terms of sales, he also believes that this pandemic has provided a unique opportunity for brands to overcome complacency. “Since the 1990s the turnovers of the watch industry have been steadily increasing, even during the financial crisis when other markets suffered. I believe this had led the brands to become a little complacent. Now, while COVID-19 has impacted the industry’s turnover, it has the potential to become an important moment for brands to take the lead and bring back the focus on clients and quality.”, says Philippe Roten. “This pandemic is an opportunity for the industry to utilise the time to prepare for the future, adapt, and become stronger.”
Emphasising on the importance of creating forward-looking strategies, Roten offered an alternative insight on the raging debate about the adverse impact of popular connected smart watches on the traditional Swiss watch industry. “I think we should thank smart watch brands for their innovation and for putting time pieces on the wrists of millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t have worn them. By doing this, they have opened the doors for the watch industry to tap into the next generation, as they have started exploring other watch brands. We must take this opportunity to innovate and capitalize on these customers of tomorrow.”
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Speaking about Favre-Leuba’s plan for the Indian market, Philippe Roten invoked the nostalgic connection the country has with the brand, “The current generation knows Favre-Leuba as the brand which their grandfathers and fathers used to wear. We want to build on this connection and come even closer to our consumers by providing them affordable luxury that also tells a compelling story. For us, luxury is not just about a price point reference. It is about the ethics that go into producing the product, the materials used in creating it and the quality of design. In line with the wishes of contemporary customers, we want to communicate the story of the product, so that it gives them a sense of pride to own our time-piece.”
Favre-Leuba is the second oldest active Swiss watch brand at 283 years, and has been led by eight generations of the Favre family until the 1980s. The Tata Group acquired Favre-Leuba on November 16th, 2011.