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Wed 21 Oct 2015 03:25 PM

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Top watch brand CEOs talk Middle Eastern customer trends

We gathered three luxury watch brand CEOs to get an idea of the Middle Eastern customer’s taste and preference in watches

Top watch brand CEOs talk Middle Eastern customer trends
Louis Moinet’s CEO and Creative Director Jean-Marie Schaller

It’s not only the older generation who’s interested in high-end brands. The younger generation in the region has started looking into them as well, especially with the help of the education programs such as those at the Dubai Watch Week. So, to figure out what the Middle Eastern “taste” is in luxury watches, we caught up with three of the industry’s top CEOs.

Louis Moinet’s CEO and Creative Director Jean-Marie Schaller (above) started by explaining that the watch itself has changed through time. 50 years ago, he said, a watch was a functional product. 20 years ago, it was more for social status. These days, it’s more of a cultural subject.

“The Middle Eastern customer is the perfect example of the different change in behaviours. Because traditionally, Middle Eastern people loved watches with diamonds, and they didn’t care much about what was inside the watch,” said Schaller.

“Now they have acquired, in the past 10 years, a much better knowledge of what a watch is. And I think that now they have reached a level where they are very knowledgeable and they like to know what is different inside a watch, from a mechanical point of view,” he added.

H. Moser & Cie’s CEO, Edouard Meylan (above), believes the Middle Eastern customer prefers something “a bit more striking. It doesn’t mean that it has to be big and flashy, but it’s [striking details], like a beautiful blue dial, that are working very well here,” he said.

Meylan added that instead of crocodile straps, the brand has been using kudu straps which are selling much faster in the region than the latter.

“Our brand has been very traditional in the past, and when I started in 2013, the idea was to keep this tradition but make it a little bit more attractive and dynamic i.e. playing with certain shapes and materials and make the watch a little bigger, and that helped a lot to develop the market here,” Meylan explained.

Christophe Claret (above), founder and CEO of the Christophe Claret brand, just started selling to the Middle East in June this year. While he is yet to develop popularity in the region, he believes his brand is perfect for the Middle Eastern customer.

“I think that customers here like to have a known brand with prestige. For me, I just started 5 years ago. Our products are for the woman who wants to have a unique piece and cares more about that than the name. And I think the lady customers here understand my approach,” said Claret.

“They like the exclusivity and uniqueness of our pieces. We only produce around 60 pieces per watch. I think the women here like the romanticism of our watches, and the combination of the diamonds and gold,” he added.

As for the male, Claret believes the male customer in the region is a fan of out-of-the-box concepts and complications, the specialisation of his brand.

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