MILAN — Women — and their empowerment — were at the forefront of the Omega events in Milan this week in the presence of Nicole Kidman, who unveiled “Her Time” — a collection of the brand’s women’s watches dating back more than a century.
Kidman flew in from London, where she has been receiving high praise for her role in the play “Photograph 51” as British scientist Rosalind Franklin, who in the Fifties was instrumental in understanding the molecular structures of DNA. Asked about her return to theater after 17 years, she described it as “terrifying. I didn’t realize it. [Last time] I had a more ‘laissez-faire’ attitude. But I push myself to go in different places.” Kidman said she was “attracted to complicated women,” and that she felt “a love to celebrate science,” citing her father, who was also a scientist. “And I’m told that more scientists are coming to see the play,” she said, smiling. “Making 25 percent of tickets available at 10 pounds [$15.40], I hope we can make more people fall in love with the theater.” Kidman candidly described her emotions in first reading playwright Anna Ziegler’s script of “Photograph 51”: “I was incensed and I also cried.”
Such passion is also reflected in Kidman’s work as a producer and as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador supporting women’s rights, a role that Omega, too, has been backing. “It’s exciting to know that there’s a story I can tell,” said Kidman of her projects as a producer, such as the latest, together with Reese Witherspoon for HBO — an adaptation of the best-seller “Big Little Lies,” by Liane Moriarty — or “The Family Fang,” starring herself and Jason Bateman, who also directed the film, presented at the Toronto Film Festival this week.
Asked whether she had any interest in directing, Kidman said it would be “intimidating. I’ve worked with the best [directors] and they’ve been telling stories since they were children, perhaps if I wrote it I would be able to direct a film, but I find producing very satisfying.”
With Omega’s first exhibition and gala dinner in Milan, Kidman marks her 10 years as ambassador of the brand, although president Stephen Urquhart said that definition “sounds too technical. Nicole is much more than that. She is committed as the first day and she is part of the Omega family.”
Talking business, Urquhart downplayed the strong franc and foreign exchange fluctuations, saying “it’s part of life and people get used to it.” He also did not express concerns over business in China, which he described as the “number-one watch market,” admitting it had “slowed down,” but that it was “all relative” as the region continues to grow. He addressed the Chinese government’s anticorruption efforts, saying that sales in that area were “flat, but the Chinese are buying outside. They are not price-conscious, they want to buy Swiss-made watches.”
As does James Bond, i.e. actor Daniel Craig, who has been championing Omega watches for years and will be wearing the Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre model in the latest spy movie installment, “Spectre.” Upon the release of the film, the design is to be rolled out in a limited edition of 7,007 pieces.
The traveling exhibition held in Milan, which runs until Sept. 25 and whose first leg is expected in the U.S. by the end of the year, may also signal an interest in expanding Omega’s women’s division. “We have 100 years of experience and people had no idea such watches existed,” said Urquhart. “We are looking at ideas, maybe some cocktail items, for promotion or red carpet. Even more, because women also wear men’s designs.”
In Asia, he added, women are strong Omega customers. In general, he said Omega must “try a female message” to get to this category. “The Ladymatic [model] has been quite successful,” he said, adding that the Constellation , which is 30 years old, is the best-selling women’s watch for the brand.
Geographically, the American market is a “top priority” for Omega, explained Urquhart. “We are in a good position but we can be stronger there.” He said the company has made a “big commitment” investing in 36 retail stores in the region.
Omega is controlled by the Swatch Group.