Lidija Pehak Kolenko, Essec Business School A deeper look at the luxury industry

We are already in the second half of January, wow, time flies so quickly. We’re well into our classes and new projects. I can honestly say that I managed to forget that I had a Christmas break. If I compare the first term to the current one, I can say that we have more courses with specific subjects going deeper into the world of the luxury industry. During the first term we got the overview and the basics and now we’re dealing with more in-depth problems and analysis.

Some of the projects we’re working on are for example: how to develop a new brand or line extension, the importance of new online business in luxury, how to manage change and set yourself apart from competitors etc.

In the meantime I had a great opportunity to visit Geneva for an exclusive event and I would like to share that experience with you. This year the event celebrated its 21st anniversary and has once more confirmed its landmark in the fine watch sector.

Namely, the salon is the place where brands premiere their latest watches, the result of, often, years of intensive research. The salon is also where watchmakers and designers, the representatives of an entire creative team, share their passion for watchmaking one-to-one. It is a private event, so only professionals who have been invited by the exhibiting brands can attend the event and all that makes it much more exclusive.

As a result when one receives an invitation one feels part of an elite. Additionally, being among the first to explore the latest watches from the 19 prestigious watchmakers is oh so amazing. The event took place at the Geneva Expo area with all the amenities one could wish for.

Security was strict of course, but once you were through it you found yourself in the amazing world of luxury watches. There was complimentary food and drink all day long and one could also book a complimentary massage or a spa treatment in the relaxation area.

At the salon, I talked to many managers from the industry and a few chief executive officers, and they all agreed on one thing, China is the new “it” market. It is growing with great speed and is a good way along to becoming the first market for many of the watchmakers.

As for the trends, thin and thinnest is in fashion now. Great mechanical movements are put in small profile watches, one can barely believe it. But, actually, behind all these remarkable pieces, lies years and years of research and thousands of hours of artisans’ work. I found out that one of the most remarkable pieces ever made (with 16 complications in total) took around 10,000 hours of artisans’ work. If one knows that an artisan works approximately 2,000 hours a year the number of hours spent on just one piece is even more exceptional.

To add to all that, the passion for the specific “maison” and its spirit could be felt through the conversation with its artisans. When one knows that all these impressive pieces have been made with such great passion then one can understand why people buy them.

Of course, one can tell the time simply by looking at one’s mobile phone for example, however, it is passion that drives one to buy an extraordinary piece. Such a piece represents all the distinguished values I have already mentioned: passion, artistry and excellence.

I guess the perfect finish for today would be one of the sayings from Louis Bourdaloue: “There is nothing more precious than time, as it is the price of eternity”.