When you’ve got been following the watch trade for a number of years, you will have in all probability heard about Manuel Emch. Having taken the helm of Jaquet Droz in 2001, Emch oversaw the model’s development for eight years earlier than turning into the CEO of RJ Watches (Romain Jérôme). In 2017, Emch arrange Le Büro, a enterprise consultancy, working amongst different mandates with Louis Erard and Raketa. Final week’s Dubai Watch Week 2021 was an ideal second to meet up with him and study extra about his involvement with Louis Erard and different initiatives within the pipeline.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Manuel, are you able to inform us in regards to the path your profession has taken?
Manuel Emch, watch trade marketing consultant, shareholder and delegate board member at Louis Erard – I began within the trade very younger, and I imagine I used to be the youngest CEO of a Swatch Group model once I took over Jaquet Droz. It was a small operation by then, however we grew fairly a considerable model and enterprise. I prefer to develop ideas and concepts. I’m extra into the inventive course of than within the politics of a model, which is why I left JD after a number of years and went to RJ. It was barely comparable, though with a distinct mindset; a lot much less classical and conventional, however very daring, modern and artistic. I appreciated it as lengthy I may do what I’m finest at – developing with ideas and concepts. Though the investor’s technique was to push manufacturing, I needed to work on the desirability and exclusivity of the model. After I left the model, the corporate was doing very nicely.
I didn’t need to be the CEO of one other firm, not less than for a sure variety of years, so I began my very own consultancy firm that’s mainly a one-man present.
Among the many completely different initiatives I’ve been concerned in is Louis Erard. They requested me to evaluate the corporate that had been going by means of tough occasions, and I proposed a method. They requested me to implement this technique, however I made it clear that I didn’t need to be the CEO of the model, and I joined the board. We’ve got a small skilled and devoted group that helped me implement this technique, and this has been an especially profitable endeavour.
I additionally joined the board of Raketa, the oldest Russian watch firm producing actions in-house. Moreover, I work with a number of suppliers, from very high-end to extra entry-level. I attempt to hold myself free and do what I’m finest at, creating concepts and ideas and utilizing my community, expertise, and experience to assist corporations develop and construct model fairness.
What have been your priorities at Louis Erard?
The very first thing I carried out was a flattening of the hierarchy. All people is accountable, and we work nicely collectively. We set clear targets; persons are empowered, know what they need to do and might problem each other. It creates a constructive, constructive work surroundings. Some individuals need to be extra unbiased. After all, there are guidelines and goals. And it really works. I do know that the extra freedom I’ve, the extra environment friendly I’m. I don’t have a relaxed life, I work 12 months a yr, however I’ve by no means been as environment friendly as I’m right this moment. The brand new technique has been very profitable, and the group is joyful and proud about this.
Are you able to share your product technique, together with the collaborations which were a game-changer for the corporate?
We turned across the firm in a spectacular method. We now have watches that typically promote for twice or thrice their retail worth. Louis Erard has turn out to be one of many coolest, if not the good model on this value class. The model was fairly generic, attempting to compete with costs, which is not possible for an unbiased watch firm. The query was find out how to make the model enticing.
Watchmaking is about product, product, product and… the consumer. We’re in a inventive enterprise. That is one thing the trade tends to overlook. The thought was to put the product within the centre. We streamlined the gathering from 300 references to fifteen. Positive, we closed 60% of our doorways to concentrate on A retailers and companions that work as ambassadors for unbiased manufacturers; we’d like individuals that may be touchpoints, not simply sale factors. It’s a collector’s surroundings. We additionally began to promote on-line. As we speak, we promote 50% on-line and 50% with our companion retailers.
Getting again to merchandise, we found out that we wanted to animate the gathering to create desirability. We began with our classical line; the sports activities line will come later. The thought was to be the very best worth proposition available in the market. We need to supply what high-end watchmaking can present on the most reasonably priced value. We labored on Métiers d’Artwork, Grand Feu enamel, guilloché, stone dials – and there’s extra to come back. Eventually, we’ll begin on the motion. There isn’t any value bracket. What’s essential is this concept of ‘worth proposition’.
We additionally developed collaborations to create visibility and desirability. To provide credibility to those collabs, we began with watchmakers with “signature designs”. First was the challenge with my buddies Alain Silberstein and Vianney Halter. Then we labored with architects and designers like Atelier Oi. After which with the “watchmaking ecosystem”, individuals who belong to the trade and have one thing to say, as an example, Seconde-Seconde and artists.
On the sports activities aspect, we’ll work extra with partnerships. We began with Leeds United and have a number of extra initiatives within the pipeline.
Since we’re right here at Dubai Watch Week, we hear that you’re additionally concerned within the organisation of trade festivals.
Properly, these are crucial moments the place we collect, meet individuals and alternate concepts with purchasers. Gala’s are basic as a result of they supply a nurturing surroundings. We’re in a inventive trade; it’s not simply numbers, it’s about feelings, and these feelings might be captured on these events. Gala’s should be organised in a qualitative surroundings and be well-curated, which is definitely the case right here in Dubai; it is likely one of the finest festivals, positively a serious international watch occasion.
You will need to have trade occasions in Switzerland; Geneva Watch Days is an efficient instance, with an off-the-cuff however high-quality format. I’ve at all times thought that we’d like one thing international for the trade in a shared time and house. Baselworld was destined to vanish, regardless of all of the efforts. And there was nothing in addition to Watches & Wonders. Two gents needed to create one thing and requested me to assist them with Time to Watches. We managed to persuade HEAD to lease us an area. From day one, we performed full transparency with the FHH and Rolex. It was important to me to curate the manufacturers that may be a part of it. It’s all about independents, the inventive watch trade. As we speak, I feel now we have an attention-grabbing different to the manufacturers now in Palexpo and Watches & Wonders. It appears we gained’t have difficulties filling the house at HEAD. We’ll have between 35 and 50 manufacturers, specializing in independents and artistic watchmaking. We’re additionally pondering of making an incubator for individuals launching their manufacturers. The thought is to not promote house however to create a platform that provides a high-quality surroundings, one thing realistically reasonably priced, well-made, long-term that finally is likely to be transportable to different areas of the world. However for now, let’s begin with the primary version; it’s difficult sufficient given the surroundings, however it is extremely promising.