Why did you decide to make the move towards becoming a fully-fledged brand?
I made the decision that for sustainability and also for ambition, the only way to develop my ideas would be to go beyond an individual dealing with individuals to developing a brand, which could touch a much wider group of people. In turn, this meant making more watches, which in turn means having an infrastructure to make the numbers work. You can make the most beautiful product in the world – and it doesn’t have to be expensive – but if people don’t know you exist, you die.
"I want more people to know I exist"
On a personal level for you, does this change the way you work? Do you sense a commercial pull as soon as you mention the word “brand”?
Every watchmaker has to be commercial because if you are not a commercial person you are not feeding your children. The moment you sell anything, whether it’s an article, a book or a Swatch, it has to be commercial. When people asked me if I wanted to go mainstream, I said of course. I want more people to know I exist. If I make ten watches the cost is huge, if I make a hundred watches the cost will be attainable for more people. And people love what I do. I’m very flattered that they do.
The direction that we are going has actually given me a new lease of life. The partners are helping on the commercial side. I’m not dealing with all of the necessary daily maintenance and I can jump into what I love most. So it’s actually a liberation, not the opposite.
We hear that there is a first ladies’ watch in the pipeline. When can we expect to see it?
It will definitely be in Basel next year. We are doing it now and have the directions. We should have the first pieces finished by the end of the year and it will be launched in 2015. When I travel people asked me when I would have a chronograph, a ladies’ watch and a deployment buckle. We have the chronograph now, we will have the ladies’ watch next year but ironically not the deployment buckle! I have a draw of samples and they are all rubbish. The best ones are taken by bigger brands and they have the exclusivity on them so we cannot have them. We are working on it…
So once you have the ladies’ watch, what’s next?
Oh, it’s never-ending. Ideas are easy, what is harder is manufacturing and then distribution and sales. I have an Excel file that I put all of my ideas in. The reason I have so many models is that for the first ten years, every time I had an idea I executed it. It was completely ridiculous and born of a creative individual who had no idea what he was doing on a business level. When I look back at it now it forms an incredible foundation and we are able to separate it into these three collections and it makes sense. It almost looks intelligent but it wasn’t conceived like that from the beginning.
Next year we will also have the Mechanical Art No.2 piece in addition to the ladies’ watch. There will be a new high-end complication as well.