Home Featured Article VIEW FROM THE TOP: Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias

VIEW FROM THE TOP: Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias

by Rob Corder
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Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias had a stressed thoughts throughout lock down and says he dreamed up an idea that may change the face of the watch business when it’s revealed.

In an interview with WatchBox director Brian Govberg, he muses about retailers with out partitions, dancing shut (however not too shut) to prospects and the way the pre-owned watch enterprise will dwarf the marketplace for new watches.

Mr Bennahmias is a glass half full form of man. Confronted with a world the place all of its shops had been closed, manufacturing floor to a standstill and the opening of AP’s cherished museum was delayed, he was utilizing the time to plot the following decade of life within the luxurious watch enterprise.

In a WatchBox Studios interview with Brian Govberg, director at pre-owned watch specialist WatchBox, he means that the present disaster will gasoline creativity for each watchmaking and the watch business, and hints that Audemars Piguet is about to make a sport altering announcement.

“We’re going to see extra creativity and innovation than ever earlier than. We’ll want it,” Mr Bennahmias says. “If we’re speaking about AP, now we have been working very critically on what’s going to come subsequent. The excellent news is that, throughout confinement, our total R&D division stored working. I noticed in the previous couple of weeks two main innovations that might change the world of watchmaking, and they’re popping out of Audemars Piguet.”

Brian Govberg interviews Francois-Henry Bennahmias for WatchBox Studios.

It’s notable that the interview was with Brian somewhat than his father Danny Govberg, co-founder of WatchBox and CEO of Govberg Jewelers, a multibrand authorised seller in Philadelphia.

Mr Bennahmias might need made the selection of interrogator due to Brian’s youth as a result of he says he listens and learns extra from the younger.

“I’ve been working at Audemars Piguet for 26 years now. That’s a very long time. The best way I have a look at the image now could be that I need to pay attention increasingly more to the youthful technology as a result of we’re going to see so many adjustments to the world we live in. We’re on the crossroad of so many inventions that may affect our life, our well being, our behaviour and the way in which we talk with one another that, if we’re unwilling to study, then we’re going to be in bother,” he warns.

“There is just one approach to do that the correct approach, and that’s to hearken to our youngsters,” Mr Bennahmias continues. “We have now to see what is occurring of their world. The foundations should not the identical anymore and we’re going to see a whole lot of issues that we aren’t used to. We have now to be keen to simply accept that issues won’t ever be the identical once more.”

Because the nation inches again in the direction of normality, and international provide of watches resumes, the watch business is grappling with how a lot of the change that has been imposed upon it throughout the pandemic might be fascinating or unavoidable sooner or later.

Does stroll up enterprise matter in a world the place appointments are proving so efficient?

Ought to retailers put money into luxurious shops in the costliest areas when prospects appear to love being reached digitally or bodily of their properties?

AP Home in London is an area for entertaining and having fun with watches.

The one factor Mr Bennahmias is for certain about is that change is inevitable.

“What was true earlier than Covid is not going to be true afterwards. We have now to regulate and alter our behaviour in the direction of these shoppers,” he urges.

Again to his theme of listening to children for clues, Mr Bennahmias reveals he set his firm a problem to study from their kids.

“All people was caught of their properties and for the primary two weekends I used to be taking pictures movies for all of AP’s 2,000 workers. On the third weekend I requested all workers to talk to their youngsters, whether or not they’re 3-years-old or 25, and to ask them how they see life after Covid-19. I received drawings, e-mails, movies, letters; a whole lot of solutions. Each single one in all them spoke about love, however not the love of two individuals linked on Fb. No, it was about desirous to hug their grandmother or grandfather. I would like to have the ability to kiss my girlfriend. As people, all of them spoke about love as the very first thing they want each single day,” Mr Bennahmias describes.

“The second factor was that they instructed their dad and mom they’ve been affecting our planet for many years and a long time. Sooner or later dad and mom are going to die, however we’re staying right here so you need to change the way in which you behave, losing power and never treating the planet appropriately. That should change,” his story continues.

The method seems to have led Mr Bennahmias to a eureka second.

“Three days after this dialog with AP workers, I received the thought of how we’re going to change and regulate to those points. I can’t go into particulars, however I can assure you this goes far past the watch business, it impacts the style business, resorts, automobiles, jewelry, all the things. We can’t cope with shoppers in the identical approach now we have handled them for the previous 30 years,” he teases.

Audemars Piguet doesn’t usually promote its watches on-line or enable its authorised sellers to transact. The corporate made an exception throughout lock down and is reported to have bought and delivered 40 of the brand new [Re]grasp watch to prospects world-wide.

Mr Govberg asks whether or not we’d see an instantaneous change in coverage that may open up Audemars Piguet to ecommerce. Mr Bennahmias dodges the direct query, however goes additional into element of how the corporate will have interaction with prospects sooner or later.

He seems to have an aversion to phrases like store, retailer, boutique or showroom — these appear to be throwback phrases from the previous.

When the corporate opens a flagship, he calls them AP Homes.

Then he introduced a couple of years in the past that each one AP watches would quickly have to be bought from underneath an AP roof (no point out of the shop beneath).

Now, he’s going even additional and speaking about there being no want for partitions in the way forward for retail.

“I don’t want 4 partitions to promote you a watch tomorrow,” he boasts.

“Once we discuss luxurious, we need to be touched within the a part of your mind the place feelings are triggered. Feelings may very well be for a watch, a bit of artwork, sneakers, a purse; something. Feelings are between individuals. The pc is not going to provide you with an emotion,” he provides.

His musing is edging in the direction of describing the rising development in the direction of clienteling, a way utilized by retail gross sales associates to determine long-term relationships with key prospects primarily based on knowledge about their preferences, behaviors and purchases. Know what a buyer want to purchase and when they’re doubtless to purchase is way extra highly effective than standing behind counters ready for random strangers to return right into a retailer. Additionally it is immeasurably extra private than most ecommerce programs handle.

Audemars Piguet is already figuring out how this may have an effect on the way forward for retail and buyer relationship administration. “We’re what we are able to do tomorrow to set off emotional responses loads higher. It isn’t a matter of being on high of our shoppers on a regular basis, day and evening. Luxurious is like dancing. Should you get too shut, you step on one another’s ft. We have now to relearn the notion of interacting with shoppers,” he describes.

Listening to younger individuals is one method to carry contemporary pondering to Audemars Piguet, searching for expertise from exterior the male, pale and off Swiss watch business is one other. “Possibly the long run just isn’t seeking to rent individuals which were working in our business for the previous 10-20 years, however to look utterly exterior in the direction of the world of hospitality. The subsequent individuals we rent would possibly come from the resort or restaurant business; we are going to see,” Mr Bennahmias hints.

AP’s CEO, together with different contemporary thinkers together with Georges Kern at Breitling, Julien Tornare at Zenith and Ulysse Nardin’s Patrick Pruniaux, are able to problem the glacially gradual evolution of the Swiss watch business and have all proven a radicalism in terms of product design.

Final 12 months’s introduction of the CODE 11.59 was one of many ballsier strikes by Audemars Piguet, and it was not universally applauded, to place it mildly.



Diehard followers of the Royal Oak reacted furiously and at occasions witheringly as AP eschewed the angles and masculinity for which its sports activities watches are identified in favour of curves and and a silk-like really feel.

“Once we launched that line, we received trashed on the very first day,” Mr Bennahmias remembers. However the those that went after us had been a really small neighborhood. That is part of as we speak’s sport. Should you launch a music, a e-book, a film, a style present, you’ll hear from lovers and haters and you need to study to cope with that.”

Had Instagram been round within the 1970s when Gérald Genta was in his watch designing pomp, he might need been trolled out of city for creations just like the Patek Philippe Nautilus or AP’s Royal Oak.

That stated, it was clear that gross sales of the CODE 11.59 had been sluggish final 12 months. “We ended the 12 months with gross sales just about the place we anticipated them to be,” is all Mr Bennahmias will concede on the matter.

Response to this 12 months’s bolder colored CODEs has been extra constructive, an indication that the gathering is bedding-in. “We received’t actually know inside three months or six months, we are going to know in 5-10 years whether or not it’s a success and turns into a brand new pillar for Audemars Piguet,” he concedes.

As a director of WatchBox, Mr Govberg couldn’t finish the interview with out asking in regards to the pre-owned watch market.

Audemars Piguet was one of many first main Swiss manufacturers to speak about creating an authorized pre-owned watch programme in order that prospects may purchase and promote again watches all through their lifetime.

That was a couple of years’ in the past, and little has been heard of the AP initiative since whereas the secondary market has exploded with progressive gamers.

Audemars Piguet is taking a much smaller slice of that motion than its CEO appeared to need when he first spoke about CPO, however stays satisfied it’s a enormous and rising alternative.

“I used to be the primary to speak in regards to the pre-owned enterprise, which I consider may very well be ten occasions greater than the first market. This [pre-owned] enterprise goes to be so large as a result of you might have so many gamers in that area and there are going to be much more. The manufacturers additionally will do it on their very own, so we are going to see what occurs. We must always not shut the door on any risk as a result of everyone remains to be studying how you can play in that area,” Mr Bennahmias concludes.

The put up VIEW FROM THE TOP: Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias appeared first on WatchPro.


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