In two years, you have launched a number of models covering a broad price range; are you not afraid of disorienting customers?
We actually have a set of lines that are fairly distinctive but relatively closely positioned: we go from 3000€ at range-entry level to 20,000€ higher for the 1858 when the models are equipped with a Minerva Manufacture movement. As far as Grand Complication timepieces are concerned, there are only about 40 or so of them made per year, specifically intended for an extremely expert clientele. These customers know what they are buying: an exceptional product, traditionally crafted by a watchmaker who will devote himself exclusively to their model throughout its time in the workshop, and which they can personalise as they wish. So there is no room for confusion. For other customers, knowing that the watchmaker who has worked on their Orbis Terrarum operates in close collaboration with the one who made the Geosphere is a fundamentally reassuring guarantee of expertise.
You are forging a new image for Montblanc; how would you like to be perceived five years from now?
My wish is that its image should be founded on star products: that a cheap replica watch such as the Orbis Terrarum should become lastingly established, that the Exo-tourbillons should assert themselves as the typical Montblanc approach to tourbillons, and that we should prove capable of imposing a technical and aesthetic brand signature, collection by collection. I have always been an advocate of products above all else, and I consider that the reason why our Maisons have been around this long is because they are capable of developing exceptional products. A watch such as the 1858 single-pusher chronograph should blaze a trail. Montblanc already has 24 movements, including three new ones we are presenting at the SIHH in January 2016. They are likely to attract a lot of attention.
Which do you see as Montblanc’s greatest successes in 2015?
I would mention four: first of all, the Orbis Terrarum, because it is a rare thing to actually create new functions, and what this model brings simply did not exist before, even though all brands have already introduced world-time models. Inventing a new procedure is truly remarkable. Then comes the Exo-tourbillon Chrono, which is an authentic technical feat that establishes the Vasco da Gama collection as a legitimate, original and distinctive expression of horology. The third is the Bohème Perpetual Calendar, because it’s hard to find a ladies’ Swiss replica watches with such substantive horological content and that is so well finished. Finally, the e-Strap shows that Montblanc is playing a pioneering role by creating a whole new concept.
And what about accomplishments in other areas?
We have inaugurated a new concept for our 500 boutiques, dreamed up by the designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance who has done a fantastic job. We have already transformed five of them, in which people naturally feel at home; these are places that make one want to spend time there, and sales certain categories of products such as leather goods are literally taking off in such an environment. There was also a collaborative endeavour with Marc Newson that proved extremely positive, which involved creating such a distinctively successful pen as the black resin M is no mean feat. Finally, the arrival of Charlotte Casiraghi as a brand ambassador for ladies’ products fills a gap, since this was definitely lacking at Montblanc.
Which are the most important projects for 2016 ?
Montblanc is celebrating its 110th anniversary and within this framework we are giving a new boost to the 4810 collection, thus far based on two models. We are presenting three new calibres equipping five models, including a Transatlantic limited series in tribute to the founding voyage of the Maison in 1906, when the first fountain pens were brought back from New York to Hamburg to improve the concept behind them. This 4810 line is inspired by the pioneering spirit of the transatlantic vessels, their quest for progress, their race for performance and even their stylistic expression. Montblanc is unveiling at the SIHH a patented Exo-tourbillon that called for three years of development and is the world’s thinnest in its category.