The more uncertainty about future prospects, the more the luxury-consuming affluent class shifts to hard luxury products. These products are pricier, with more artistic and craft value beyond the practical worth, and enjoy a purer brand history and connotation. In a robust growth environment, what approaches are the hard luxury top brands taking? What initiatives are noteworthy to peers?
On August 2022, The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported that Swiss watches enjoyed strong global demand in the first half of this year. The number of wristwatches rose to 7.2 million units with an additional 225,000 increase compared to last year. The total sales breached the 11 billion franc mark ($11.3 billion).
It is noteworthy that exports of watches priced between 200 francs and 500 francs plunged by 29.2 percent in value, continuing a downturn that began in early 2020. Meanwhile, 70% of this increase stems from high-end mechanical watches made of precious metals like gold or steel. This means that despite a less favorable outlook for year three of the pandemic, expensive Swiss watches enjoyed an overall upward trend.
The same is true in China. The watch sales data displayed on many platforms are consistent with the global phenomenon, which sends a signal that the more uncertain the future prospects are, the more affluent people who are able to consume luxury goods tend to buy hard luxury products with higher prices.
1）From the Vallée de Joux to the Bund, this is a global strategic layout where history blends modernity.
With their deep and long presence in China market, the top Swiss luxury watches can be spotted all over the center of the modern city of Shanghai, whether on Huaihai Road or on the Bund. In the third year of the epidemic, Jaeger-LeCoultre opened its new flagship boutique in one of Shanghai‘s most prestigious addresses, K11 Art Mall. This approach from the top hard luxury brand delivers a clear signal that China is still an extremely crucial market for global strategy.
Opened to the public in 2013, the K11 Art Mall, blending three core elements of art ·humanity ·and nature, has captured the attention of the younger generation with its unique sensory experience as well as Jaeger-LeCoultre. The newly designed Jaeger-LeCoultre flagship boutique embodies the history and tradition spanning nearly two centuries while echoing the concept of K11.
The glass shingles on the exterior wall were inspired by the “tavaillon” (wooden tile) cladding used on traditional Vallée de Joux buildings. This fascinating display evokes the glass-fronted northern façade of its headquarters in Switzerland, which reflects its surroundings, changing appearance according to the weather and time of day. Fusing tradition and technology, the back-lit glass shingles give the flagship boutique a starry sky glow in the darkness.
While the exterior wall is simply the resemblance of La Grande Maison, the interior layout best depicts the brand tonality. When we step into the boutique, visitors are greeted with a series of warm circles and curves, away from modern industrial style under the cold angular. With an emphasis on organic materials and natural colors, the mild light brown décor evokes the serenity and beauty of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Vallée de Joux.
Among its history, Jaeger-LeCoultre takes the greatest pride in its 1,300 calibres, stored in dedicated archives of La Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux. In the K11 boutique, a fascinating, interactive calibre wall displays some of the most emblematic and classic calibres. It only takes a few steps from a “beginner” to a knowledgeable watch enthusiast.
At the other corner, visitors can explore the power of personalization. The interactions reflect the attentiveness of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s service. Be it to transform Reverso into a personalized work of art through enameling and engraving or to play with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s complete strap collection for all models.
Along with the opening of the flagship boutique, Jaeger-LeCoultre brings two great news to Chinese consumers. Atelier d’Antoine, the first permanent installation outside Switzerland, and the Chinese face among new global Ambassadors.
2) New highlight 1: Atelier d’Antoine has arrived in Shanghai.
Atelier d’Antoine is named after Maison’s founder, Antoine LeCoultre. An exact replica of its counterpart within the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre, this is the first permanent installation of an Atelier d’Antoine outside Switzerland, displaying a myriad of rare techniques and artistic crafts. This underlines the significance of China market. This is also to communicate and inherit the watchmaking culture.
In the Atelier d’Antoine of the K11 boutique, visitors are introduced to the secrets of enameling, engraving, and champfering through showrooms and Discovery Workshops programme. These artistic crafts, which belong to the traditional watchmaking industry, narrate the past, present, and future stories, offering the direct hands-on, immersive experience of watchmaking.
The workshops’ display shelves showcase the three pillars of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise: the astronomical function, the artistic sound and precision timekeeping, the most profound and complex watchmaking techniques in the （ Haute Horlogerie）, which are rarely found even in Switzerland. There is also an exclusive craft（Métiers Rares®） section, which shows in detail how enameling and engraving can transform a Reverso watch into an individual work of art.
Led by a watchmaking expert, participants will also gain insight into the workings of a watch movement, the watchmaking processes and creative skills required to create a fine watch, as well as experience and recreate the mastery of watchmaking technique using magnified models. In this way, participants experienced first-hand the past, present and future of Jaeger-LeCoultre, stopping to experience up close the craftsmanship, the power and the beauty of time in this fast-paced era.
Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, said: “We’ve opened the doors of our manufacture to clients and guests since the 1990s. And we’ve intended in many different ways to express what watchmaking is about at Jaeger-LeCoultre. Sharing our passion, sharing our knowledge, is an important element in expressing who we are as a maison. “This new flagship store thus marks a whole new chapter for Jaeger-LeCoultre and takes the Grand Maison to the other side of the world. It is not only a boutique, but also contains a mysterious world of watchmaking that quietly speaks of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s glorious legacy.
3）New Highlight2: A new generation of brand ambassadors join the Jaeger-LeCoultre family.
On November 1st, 2022, Jaeger-LeCoultre announces Jackson Yee as the global ambassador. The next day, a short film “A New Turn”, a poetic and reflective narrative journey in a modern and captivating atmosphere, opens up a timeless journey in a second.
He is an actor, singer and dancer, and has successfully portrayed many popular screen images since his debut. Although he became famous at a young age, he was calm and peaceful. He is humble and calm, and strives for excellence, constantly bringing surprises to the audience.
In September this year, Anya Taylor-Joy, born in 1996, also joined Jaeger-LeCoultre with a new identity. With the Netflix hit series “The Queen’s Gambit”, she became famous, vividly interpreting the qualities of modern women. She is soft at heart but brave and fearless, and her screen image is rich and varied, emanating sternness in her innocence.
The two young people, who share the same elegance and expertise, and together explore the infinite possibilities of the art of time, show what Jaeger-LeCoultre expects from the younger generation. According to the Wisers Social Media Database 2022 annual study, young consumers under the influence of the epidemic have emerged from the retreat of all parties in consumption to become the main force of luxury consumption in the first half of the year, a figure that also coincides with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s judgment that the younger generation is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s future.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is traditional, an outstanding representative of traditional Swiss watchmaking that persists from the pocket watch era to the present day. However, Jaeger-LeCoultre is also modern, with a new interpretation of the watch that embodies the unique aesthetic of the 21st century watch. In the film, the two wear different styles of the Reverso watch. The legend of the Reverso began in the 1930s with a watch that was broken in a polo match. The challenge of designing a watch that would not be broken in a fierce confrontation was in itself a unique Jaeger-LeCoultre artisanal challenge, and the watch became an instant hit.
4) Jaeger-LeCoultre is at the forefront of brands who trust China.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported in August that international demand for Swiss watches shows no sign of weakening: the European market continued its recovery in June, with overall exports up 8%; that of the U.S. market rose by 13.5%, still benefiting from the continued transfer of excess products that could not be shipped to the Chinese market, which made the U.S. market more abundant with watches. And in Asia, after a big drop in the second quarter, the Chinese market has ushered in a strong recovery growth, up
by 18.4 percent. In the first half of 2022, “watches” led the ranking in terms of social media attention for each category of luxury goods in China. Its overall number of indexes is far ahead of other categories.
Shanghai K11 has always been a young and trendy landmark on Huaihai Road, and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s flagship store is located there because of its DNA of pursuing art and beauty at its core. From the exterior design to the interior layout and presentation, its dedication to bringing the Grand Maison, located deep in the Swiss valley of the Vallée de Joux, to Shanghai was itself a landmark project.
And this cooperation with Jackson Yee is another step carefully taken after long observation. His dedication, persistence, commitment as well as his pioneering spirit are all in line with the values and innovative spirit of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The new flagship store and the new global ambassador showcase Jaeger-LeCoultre’s vision and ambition in China. The flagship store brings Jaeger-LeCoultre’s top skills, whether it is astronomy and sound, a complex technology that belongs only to the top of the Swiss watchmaking pyramid, or the rare enamelling process, all clearly expressing Jaeger-LeCoultre’s regard for the Chinese market, where consumers, who have the strength and are entitled to the same level of treatment as Swiss consumers. Whether it’s an astronomical watch with a perpetual calendar on your wrist or a timekeeper with a heavenly sound, Jaeger-LeCoultre is ready to share with the Chinese market, in an environment of strong growth, where, step by step, Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to expand the boundaries of fine watchmaking and perpetuate the legacy of brilliant watchmaking.