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A historian by training, specialized in the life and work of Abraham-Louis Breguet, he is the 7th generation direct descendent of the man universally considered to be the greatest watchmaker of all time and the author of the book “Breguet, Watchmaker Since 1775”. On his recent visit to Australia, we were lucky enough to score an interview with Emmanuel Breguet himself. (Breguet fans… You’re gonna love this)

Excerpts from the interview…

We would love to know a little more about you…

I am Emmanuel Breguet, the direct descendant of Abraham-Louis Breguet, the founder of the company. Atrained historian, I started working for Breguet in 1993. My main role is to promote the historical patrimony of Breguet. I have also written books on Breguet in the past, namely a biography on the founder and I discovered many interesting things and continue to discover new things about the Breguet House, almost every day.

 

 

One of the things I discovered was that Breguet created the first wristwatch for one of Napoleon’s sistersand it was completely forgotten because as you know, like with many inventions, if occurring early in time, facts can be forgotten or left undiscovered for years.

Abraham-Louis Breguet had made the first wristwatch for the Queen of Naples and then the son of Breguet went on to make 5-6 wristwatches 10 years later… But it was forgotten. The actual use of the wristwatch was only established one century later. It was very important to discover that Breguet made the first wristwatch. The other invention I discovered was that the son of Breguet, Antoine-Louis Breguet, invented the winding crown in 1830. We have some documents in the archive to prove this. Breguet’s son did not patent the invention and 10-12 years later it was patented by someone else.

How have you seen Breguet evolve over the years?

When I started with Breguet in 1993, it was managed, not by the Swatch Group but a financial company from the Middle East. It was different and quite a small company. At that time, many of the watch brands were managed by bigger companies. I have seen so many changes. We did not have a presence in the Russian market, nor the Chinese market and the main markets were in Europe, US and Japan and today we have the opportunity and appreciation for our brand in China, Australia, Russia and many other countries.

Breguet enthusiasts in Australia.

I receive so many emails and letters to authenticate some watches with a Breguet signature, but the question is, is it a genuine antique Breguet or not? In the past a lot of things were made very early, even during the French revolution and the very beginning of the 19th century and because of this it can get very challenging sometimes. 

There are some very knowledgeable collectors here in Australia.  I occasionally receive letters from Australia and I do know of a historian of watchmaking who wrote about self-winding watches – who was Australian… The history of watchmaking is greatly appreciated here and publications like Hours and Minutes can be a great source of education.

We have a message for all our collectors and enthusiasts in Australia.  Breguet is a very innovative brand. Aesthetically the shape of our watches are quite conservative such as the Breguet hands, Breguet guilloche, but inside it is very innovative and during the last 15 years, especially since Breguet became a part of The Swatch Group, we patented between 10-15 patents each year and it is very important for our collectors in Australia to know this. We do a lot of investigation in new materials and technicalities, but the look of the watch is timeless. It is always discreet. We are traditional but we are also very innovative.

On the new Marine Équation Marchante 5887 released at Baselworld 2017

The Marine Équation Marchante 5887 is important because we can innovate and create something modern with a touch of traditional. It is sporty watch and yet very elegant. It is not as traditional as our classical line, but a watch that signifies the beginning of many changes in the Marine family. We started with an haute horlogerie piece and will continue in Baselworld 2018 or Baselworld 2019 with a chronograph, worldtimer etc. It is the beginning of something modern.

 

Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887

June 15, 2017 0 comment
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Established in 1978 by Anthony Shum, Shum’s Watches and Jewellery is a family run business located in the heart of Chinatown in Sydney’s Sussex Street. They don’t just sell watches here, they sell experiences, housing some of the most renowned brands in the industry. Earlier this year, we caught up with Vanessa Shum, the Director of Shum’s Watches and Jewellery to get a better understanding of what makes this family run business so different.

 

Vanessa Shum, Director, Shum’s Watches and Jewellery

 

Going back in time…

Shum’s Watches & Jewellery is a family business which was started by my father in 1978. By background, my father Anthony Shum is a watchmaker and my grandfather is a clockmaker. Hence, watchmaking has always been part of our DNA.

When my father first came to Australia, he came with 200 dollars in his pocket, and with that, opened up a shop on Hay St, Sydney. Today, we are a boutique representing 18 brands in store, which would only have been possible with the long term support of our customers. To this day, we still have clients who come back to us to purchase watches and get their timepieces serviced with the same level of trust and comfort they had 30+ years ago.

Currently we carry brands with a variety of price points including the entry level brands such as Tissot and Oris, luxury level brands such as Omega and IWC, all the way up to a Breguet or a Vacheron Constantin.

It’s been around 39 years that we’ve been in the business and in every step of the journey, we’ve always been evolving whilst staying true to our values. Having such a broad range is definitely part of our strategy because we don’t only cater to the tourist market but also to the local market.

Personally, I came into the business around 4-5 years ago and it’s always lovely to come in and be greeted by someone who says ‘I’ve known you since you were a child!’. It’s definitely heartwarming.

Our boutiques…

At the moment we have one boutique. We initially had 4 points of sale in the past targeting different markets and showcasing different product ranges. However, we found a location that would house all the brands we have under one roof, and moved to 419 Sussex Street, Sydney. This has been ideal as it is pretty much in the heart of Chinatown in Sydney, which is a great tourist attraction and of course a great food destination.

 

Shum’s Watches and Jewellery

 

The Shum’s touch…

We are a family business and stay true to our values of customer satisfaction, looking after our staff and giving back to the community. We strive to find the right product for all our customers, hence we continue to carry a broad offering of Swiss watch brands with various price points.

A lot of our staff members have been with us for over 20-30 years and they treat the store almost as if it is their own store. They are family, and this experience is what we would like our customers to feel as well. We hope that when you walk into our store, you don’t feel intimidated to ask questions and can comfortably go and find a watch that is best suited for you. Whether your budget is big or small, we’re here to  cater to your requirements.

 

 

We have been blessed with good fortune and the support of our clients over the years, hence we firmly believe in giving back to the community in the form of charity work. Earlier this year, through our affiliations with the Way In Network, we teamed up with Longines to help establish a research grant for the Australian Gynecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF). This raised much needed funding and awareness for research of women’s cancer, which we hope will benefit the lives of many future Australian families.

Our customers

Our approach is more about getting to know you first. We find this is easier, as customers can relate to us better and moreover develop that level of trust in us. Ultimately we would like our customers to feel comfortable purchasing from us, and recommending Shum’s Watches & Jewellery to their family and friends.

If you’ve just started your journey into the world of watchmaking, welcome! There is just so much to learn and so much to see. But I would personally say, take your time and get a better understanding of what watchmaking is all about. The more a customer understands a watch, the more they can appreciate it. The amount of time and effort that goes into making a watch and the R & D behind it, is truly fascinating. Once you understand that, irrespective of the brand, you will start looking at the product for what it is. And I think that is what is important.

Australia has a lot of potential when it comes to fine watchmaking. We are so isolated and therefore I feel we haven’t had as much exposure in the watch industry, in comparison to say, Europe. At this moment, the market is challenging, not only from an Australian perspective but globally. Everyone is a lot more careful. Overall I see a very positive outlook for Australia because we are a very young country and there are still a lot of people who haven’t really been exposed to fine watchmaking.

As far as local Australians go, the local market is very influenced by marketing. Certain brands that execute their marketing campaigns well are Omega, IWC and Longines. Longines is a brand that has been close to people’s heart for a while now. It is well recognized and trusted globally.

Watch Education…

There is so much to learn in the watch industry, and the more people know they can then appreciate their timepieces. This applies to caring and looking after their watches, the same way people look after their cars. It really helps with companies like Hours and Minutes and bloggers which are platforms for people to learn more about watchmaking, especially within Australia. People’s eyes are definitely starting to open.

Social media has enhanced the speed of which people get educated. A good example of a watch brand that has done extremely well in terms of educating from a materials point of view is RADO. I personally like to follow them and to find out more on the treatment of ceramic and how it’s actually done. Youtube channels too are amazing avenues.

On behalf of the team at Hours and Minutes, we would like to thank Vanessa Shum, Director, Shum’s Watches & Jewellery and her entire team for making this interview possible.

June 14, 2017 0 comment
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Remember the famous quote ‘I MAKE WATCH CONTACT BEFORE EYE CONTACT’. Well… It’s TRUE. Now, we don’t want to be sounding like stalkers, but we just had to. We just had to grab Marcus’ wrist while he was at Chadstone a few months ago. The result: A super sexy Panerai Radiomir on his wrist and a whole lot of watch talk.

Annually ranked in the top 3 real estate agents in Australia, Marcus has been a company Director since 2010, selling well in excess of $200,000,000 worth of Melbourne’s finest properties every year. With a local and international client base, he specializes in prestige homes and luxury developments with a strong passion for architecture and building design. His intellect, market knowledge and dedication combined with the support of his team, ensures his clients are provided an incredibly professional real estate experience.

Excerpts from the conversation…

Your profession… 

I am a Director of a real estate firm, Marshall White who specialises in prestige homes in Melbourne.

What is it about watches you enjoy?

They are a statement piece of significance, of meaning and memories.

What are you currently wearing and what is so special about the watch?

A limited edition Panerai Radiomir.  I purchased it in Hawaii by chance when I had left the beach to go get some lunch for my wife and kids and this piece caught my eye as I walked by. Lucky I had my credit card in my board shorts!

The highlight of your collection… 

I own two Panerai’s and two TAG Heuer’s. For me it’s a draw between leather straps and metal bracelets.

If you were to match your dream watch to these scenarios…

A day at the beach…  Rolex Deepsea D-Blue

 

 

Sky Blue Suit, White Shirt, Tan Shoes and a… Gold Panerai Radiomir with a brown leather strap

 

PANERAI RADIOMIR 1940 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC ORO ROSSO – 45MM

 

To your next Auction… Panerai Tuttonero Luminor 1950 3 days GMT Automatic Ceramica – 44mm

 

Panerai Tuttonero Luminor 1950 3 days GMT Automatic Ceramica – 44mm

May 9, 2017 0 comment
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Jaeger-LeCoultre is as much a watchmaker’s paradise as it is a utopia for those who love fine timepieces. Every creation that comes out from the fertile precincts of the Manufacture, tells a story of path breaking innovation and traditional expertise. We catch up with Stéphane Belmont, the Director of Creation and Marketing for a little watch talk and the manufactures new timepieces for 2017…

Shedding some light on the new 2017 Rendez Vous Collection

The Rendez-vous has now turned out to be the second best-selling collection. We wanted to do something and focus on it so that we don’t lose this dynamic. For the past ten years, we have been putting in a lot of effort on the development of feminine watches. The competition is also becoming stronger and so we think that we need to carry on being leaders in this segment, and not lose the dynamics we have created.

On the use of new materials

We have been experimenting with new materials thanks to our ateliers and have had a very good response to this. We think it makes the watch interesting. You don’t lose the essence of the watch… Let’s say you have a Reverso or a Rendez-vous, it gives the opportunity to do something with the watch without losing on its essential character. It works with watches that have a strong character. For the Reverso it is the shape of the case. For the Rendez-vous it is the numbers and also the functions and complications.

This year you have also done a flying tourbillon with a world timer (Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Tourbillon). Could you tell us a little more about it?

It is a limited edition of 100 pieces in platinum and will hit the market soon. We have done similar approaches in the past. The technique of using a tourbillon to display a function is something we are good at. Tourbillions have  lost a bit of their success not only because everyone is launching one but also because they all look the same. We think that the tourbillon is nice to look at and should be combined with other complications. It is about selling a watch with a good design where you can see the three dimensionality of the watch. The tourbillon plays just one part. It is part of the scenery but not the whole watch.

How do you position Jaeger-LeCoultre as a brand?

We cultivate products that have their own identity and are very strong. So, they could well exist by themselves. It is a rich collection. So I would say that Jaeger-LeCoultre is a  watchmaking company that creates interesting designs. It is a combination of watchmaking and creativity. It is a master of complications. We don’t want to position the brand as being too expensive or too affordable. We want the client to feel that we are the best in any price category. We want our clients to feel that in the given price they are getting the best that they could ever receive.

Who is a Hybris Artistica customer?

We are looking at people who want to buy something that is not conventional. They will take their time to discover and appreciate the watch. It is a watch that has more than others, but expresses it in an elegant and refined manner. It is for someone who is self- confident. It is a watch that a person will buy for himself.

On the Swiss watch industry…

When times are difficult we need to be true to ourselves. We should reinforce what has made us successful in the past. At the same time, we built the future by promoting the lines that we have launched recently. We are also focusing on redevelopment of classic and elegant watches. We feel that it is necessary to now, also focus on men! In this turbulent global scenario, Jaeger-LeCoultre is a brand that is on the path to preserve its integrity and hold on to the trust that it has won from patrons all over the world through its long existence!

 

April 9, 2017 0 comment
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She is one of the finest minds in the Swiss Watch Industry and ‘THE’ one behind some of Cartier’s most iconic timepieces, bringing a completely new perspective to the profession of watchmaking. Born into a family of watchmakers, Carole Forestier-Kasapi has been making watches at maison Cartier since 1999. Under her direction, the maison has launched over 30 new movements and over 50 new references, earning her the Best Watchmaker prize at the GPHG in 2012.

 

Keen to know more about what Cartier’s bringing to the table this 2017? Read on…

This year brings a Complicated Diamond Panther Watch with No Hands…

There are two main challenges regarding the technical development of the Panthère Joueuse watch. The panther indicates the minutes and the ball disc indicates the hours. These two 3D elements are made of gold, so you can imagine how much heavier they are compared to simple hands. This is why we needed to recalculate the extra power necessary for rotating these heavy elements. Secondly these indicator elements have a specific and unique axis to provide shock resistance despite their weight.

Cartier Panthère Joueuse

How long did it take for the development of the watch?

It took around 3 years for the whole development process; from the brief to the homologation. Cartier’s fine watchmaking line of haute horlogerie continues to expand apace with three new additions the Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon, Skeleton Mysterious Hour, and Panthère Joueuse.

How many movements do you normally work on at a time?

We have between 3 and 5 new movements per year. We have to work on these different projects simultaneously. These developments have different durations depending on their complexity and also priorities; it takes between 3 and 5 years. We have to start and plan development projects 5 years in advance. This is why we have an average of 20 movement projects in progress at one time.

Do you see a melange of smart watch movements with traditional movements?

Mechanical mechanisms and smart technology are for me incompatible for several reasons; firstly, mechanic is everlasting, always repairable, contrary to smart tech which is very quickly outdated and obsolete. Mechanical movements in haute horlogerie are very highly decorated and require a lot of manual savoir-faire for the adjustments, whereas smart watches are micro-electronic devices with technologies that require a different kind of know-how. I don’t see any reason today to combine these two worlds. Let’s see in the future, perhaps we will find a good reason to create a smart mechanical hybrid watch.

What are the challenges in developing movements in the current market scenario?

We have to remain attractive by proposing creative complications, creative new displays, new solutions and alternative concepts, while proposing exciting novelties and constantly innovating to improve mechanical watches with regards to reliability and durability.

Is there any limit to movement creation?

Movement design savoir-faire is a series of well-balanced compromises between performances, dimensions, reliability and durability. Putting complications together is a difficult exercise, because the complexity increases exponentially although in theory, there is no reason to limit the accumulation of complications.

On complications and mechanical watches for women…

I’m looking for a way to amaze women by surprising them, by telling a story (like the Panthere Joueuse of this year). This is very different from men’s complications which is based on a demonstration of complexity and techniques. As long as I have stories to tell to women I will create new complications for them.

February 3, 2017 0 comment
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Oris

Australian multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, educator and may we add ORIS LOVER, James Morrison plays multiple roles, but all of them bound by notes of music. James has a veritable fan following and we were fortunate enough to sit down with the ‘King of Jazz’ at a recent valedictorian event in Mount Gambier. James’ latest release “In Good Company” with his mentor, the legendary Don Burrows has remained at the top of the charts ever since its debut. Morrison is also on the path to making a mark on music education through The James Morrison Academy of Music, a dedicated jazz school in partnership with the University of South Australia. Read on to know more about the maestro…

Early musical influences…

My roots are in a small town, in the country. The community was very musical. My mother played the organ in church. We moved to Sydney when I was seven years old. I joined the school band. But, the local church we went to was bigger, and ironically, I first heard jazz there. One thing led to another. I took to jazz and started playing in bands. The rest as they say, is history.

How has jazz transformed your life?

I don’t think that being a jazz musician is something you choose. You discover that you are one. If you are lucky you can discover it and make it a career. I think it is something you are, rather than something you do. What that means is that it is a form of expression, and to take this expression and your passion into a vocation is really difficult. These are often three different things, and to have them connected as one; it’s a different kind of life. The line between work, passion and expression is completely gone.

Your latest release “In Good Company” with Don Burrows has remained in the Top 10 of the Aria Jazz Charts since its debut at No 2. What are some of the best things about creating your own music?

A jazz musician is freer in interpreting. So I think that what we should do, at least once a year or so, is to question where am I heading now, and interpret that by capturing snapshots, collaborations…With Don Burrows I have collaborated for long and he has been an important part of my life. To capture that musically is really what it’s about.

You are known for inspiring the next generation of musicians. We would love to know a little about the James Morrison academy of music and how have you seen jazz evolve over the last few years?

I’ve always been involved in education, but mainly as a touring musician and doing workshops, master classes and so on. You talk to a group of musicians and then you may or may not even see them again. When you do this over many years, you tend to think in terms of, “If I had a school then…”. The opportunity to take a group of musicians and follow them through, and nurture them; that is what the James Morrison Academy of Music is about. We have courses, but the purpose is to find out what kind of musician you are and to manifest it. There are many different ways of playing jazz as there are people playing it. It is a journey together.

Time…

We don’t talk about rhythm and pulse; we talk about time! When we ask, how is his time, we refer to the ability to evoke rhythm. Jazz is all about time! It’s kind of cool that the highest award we give to a jazz musician is a timepiece because that person will have exceptional time! A watch is something that lasts a lifetime. There is nothing more long-lasting than that. When your phone becomes three models old, it will not be useful, and one day it eventually breaks. So does a lovely pair of glasses or any other item. Very few things in life, are for life. Beautiful pens can be one of them. Most of them but, are timepieces. It is something that we want to be timeless. To have something like that as a gift always works. It is a beautiful marriage of ideas and physical object. A jazz watch…that’s the coolest thing! It is riddled with great connections.

As an artist, what drew you to Oris?

I have always loved fine things, and that includes Swiss watches. It is an example of craftsmanship, but it also symbolizes something. You can tell the time with any digital watch. It keeps perfect time. Anything can keep time. It’s more about what went into making the timepiece. I find that the personal interests of the person who makes the products, like the jazz line, is interesting. It is all about what you are putting into it, and that says something. It’s more than a timepiece. It’s a statement. I am currently wearing the Oris Oscar Peterson. Here is a company that relates to something. The fact that they have jazz watches…well that’s something!

The actual people in the company don’t see their work as just a job. It is a company that does not just make beautiful products, but also thinks about ‘why’. The little things and symbols in the design matter. They don’t scream for attention. You appreciate the thought behind it.

How would you describe your style and how does Oris come into it?

I am a jazz musician and I like change! Thankfully, I am able to have more than one watch! My style is changeable. Some of my watches are classy, some are avant-garde. I don’t go sporty as often, so I don’t have many sport watches. I love complicated watches with lots of functions. I can sit on a plane and try different things with the watch. I fly around a lot, and so a pilot’s watch is a must. A classy dress watch is also a must.

That’s a great note to end on!

(Many thanks to James Morrison and his team and Oris Australia for making this interview possible. Interview taken in November 2016)

December 1, 2016 0 comment
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From writing instruments to leather to watches to accessories, Montblanc continues to knock the socks off collectors and enthusiasts. If there is one man responsible for making Montblanc what it is in Australia, it’s Leon Mervis.

So what really elevates this global powerhouse to pinnacle status rivalling some of the oldest luxury brands on the market? Find out in our exclusive below.

(INTERVIEW TAKEN IN NOVEMBER 2016)

This year is Montblanc’s 110th Anniversary. How is the brand celebrating it and what is the symbolization of the Serpent?

To celebrate our 110th Anniversary, we have relaunched “Rouge et Noir”, the very first writing instrument created by the brand in 1906. This revolutionary fountain pen solved two problems by being both refillable and not leaking. The success of this first fountain pen launched the company and changed writing instruments forever!

Montblanc didn’t invent the fountain pen, but we definitely perfected it, which explains the brand’s global recognition for being, ‘the master of writing’. The early 1900’s was a time of great change. The airplane had just been invented while cars and other modes of transportations were improved.

This new fountain pen allowed people to write down their experiences and ideas on the move without worrying about ink and mess. I would say that in the early 1900’s this ‘safety’ fountain pen would be just as revolutionary as the smartphone in this century!

The original “Rouge et Noir” didn’t feature a clip on the cap and in the 1920s the serpent clip was added. The serpent is a representation of the art and culture of the roaring 1920’s.

Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge et Noir Special Edition Coral Fountain Pen

How have Montblanc watches developed in Australia over the past 3 years?

Three years ago, Mr. Jérôme Lambert, our current international CEO moved from Jaeger-LeCoultre to Montblanc and with him came his flair for fine watchmaking. Over the past 3 years, Mr. Lambert has added new watch collections, updated and refined older ones and created a female range, “Bohéme” which has been very well received.

For the celebration of our 110th anniversary, the very successful “Montblanc 4810” watch collection has been relaunched, including some exciting additions such as The Worldtimer Orbis Terrarum, The ExoTourbillon Stop-Second, and a new Limited Edition TwinFly Chronograph.

Montblanc 4810 WorldTimer Orbis Terrarum

 

Montblanc 4810 ExoTourbillon Stop-Second

What are your thoughts on the speculation of the global slowdown in the swiss watch industry and how did it affect Montblanc?

The swiss watch industry is in a slump. Montblanc has well avoided this slowdown, by being the multi-faceted Maison that we are. The brand does not put all its eggs in the same basket!

For example, our leather and male accessories have soared with the introduction of accessible luxury items and we continue to be a leader in writing instruments. Our collections keep getting better and better.

Luxury needs to be exclusive and yet easily available. How do you maintain this balance?

Thanks to our attractive and functional designs, products like belts, cufflinks, and small leather goods have been repeatedly chosen for thoughtful presents and corporate gifts. We have been providing accessible products to welcome in customers and let them grow within Montblanc. With their loyalty, they have aspired to more exclusive limited collections, which are themed each year. You will always find something at Montblanc for the man who has “everything”.

Please explain Montblanc’s growth and current attention to leather?

Yes, correct, leather is the fastest growing category within Montblanc and it is definitely the core focus of the brand moving forward. New materials, and most importantly the inclusion of technology into functionality, has been the strong selling point in all of our new collections.

For example, our new “Urban Spirit” collection combines contemporary design with RF-id technology. The modern pickpocket can steal both your money and all of your personal data by just walking next to you in public and simply scanning your wallet or briefcase. This new technology prevents it from happening; it keeps your personal and credit card information safe within your wallet!

The “Urban Spirit” range, protects your privacy thanks to our pattern “shield technology”, which is incorporated in the gold-coloured pocket lining and combined with an RF-id chip.

How has your distribution channel evolved?

We currently have 6 branded boutiques and plan to add another 4 in the coming years. Luxury watch retailers are increasingly getting excited about our new product releases because of the evolution of our designs and technology advancements. Efficient & even distribution of collections is very important to Montblanc as we want to allow all Australians to feel welcome in our boutiques and equally served across the country.

Can you share with us any other new and exciting releases?

We have just released this year’s ‘Writer’s Edition’, William Shakespeare which is a must have! Our ‘Special character’ pen edition which is Miles Davis for 2016, should be arriving soon into boutiques. This special edition will thrill both Montblanc collectors and jazz lovers. 2017, will be the introduction of our new “Augmented Paper Technology” into Australia. Keep an eye out for this tech beauty! The technology allows your handwritten notes and drawings to be transferred onto digital devices (smartphone, tablet & computer) in real time! You can even hand write your texts…

Montblanc Writers Edition William Shakespeare Special Edition Ballpoint Pen

Our sincere thanks to Leon Mervis and Montblanc Australia for making this interview possible

December 1, 2016 0 comment
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Longines

He’s the very definition of ‘Intellectual Nourishment’. All you need is 10 minutes and you’ll know exactly what we mean. His passion for Longines in unmatched. Having taken the reins as President of Longines in 1988, Walter von Känel is showing no signs of slowing down. With an estimated turnover of 1.5 billion Swiss Francs, Longines is still clearly among the top watchmakers in the Swiss watch industry. Earlier this year at Baselworld, we were fortunate enough to spend time talking to one of the most charismatic and experienced individuals of the industry. Excerpts….

THE YEAR FOR LONGINES…

Longines kept its 1.5 billion turnover, as Mr. Hayek said in the Swatch Group press conference. It has been positive in most places, except Hong Kong. Australia has been very positive. We grew 15% over last year in this market. So, we are happy!

LET’S TALK LIMITED EDITIONS…

For special pieces, we are open. We have dedicated watches to varied championships. As of now, we don’t have anything in the pipeline. We have collections that are doing well, but I feel getting something on it, like the map etc…would be risky. I don’t think we should have any political aspect to it. But yes, never say never!

THE LONGINES PORTFOLIO…

If we look at the breakdown of materials, we do about 58% of steel. We have also got a tremendous breakthrough of steel and gold cap. In the latter, the thickness of the gold has to be between 200-499 microns. Above 500 is solid gold and below 200 is plated. We have many pieces in this segment. Then there is PVD, or plated collection. We do stick to our policy of consistency and continuation. Ceramic is not my territory.

I don’t trust the quality of black PVD, and so I don’t go into it. When I go to the PVD factories, I am very surprised to see some really high Swiss brands using China’s PVD. We stick to our main business. With respect to the straps, that’s a different world. It is an interesting situation. We have always had crocodile and alligator leather. With NATO straps, there is the advantage of price!

THE FUTURE OF THE SWISS WATCH INDUSTRY…

I have been in the industry for 53 years. From 1963 to 1969 I was in a dial factory and then from 1969 I have been at Longines. With respect to the Swiss Industry exports, the export of last year was almost a miracle. The beginning of the year was not so bad. You are aware that as an industry, we have had non-stop growth for 10-15 years. The general tendency has been that. In 2008 the brands focusing on USA did face a crisis. There were changes. Today, we see Chinese tourists going back to Europe. Hong Kong, we have seen an impact recently. Korea has come back. We have not really blocked any production. We should look at the last 10-15 years. There may be a rest in between….but I feel that the global negative effect will be partially absorbed. I don’t think we will have this momentum in the next 20 years. We will see the strong getting stronger and the weak getting weaker. The name of the game is how we can control the distribution and the points of sale.

June 19, 2016 0 comment
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Gregory Jewellers

With a diverse portfolio of fine jewellery, internationally renowned watch brands and accessories consistently setting the bar for style and exceptional service, Gregory Jewellers is all set to change the game in traditional luxury watchmaking. In our recent visit, to their Bondi Junction boutique (Highly Recommended !!), we caught up with Co-CEO’s, Helen Gregory and Edward Gregory for a little Tête-à-Tête.

The journey continues…

HG: Gregory Bros was initially established in 1967 in Europe, specialising in wedding ring manufacture. From 1976 to 1978, my father Chris, his brother Lahdo, and their uncles Abraham & Isak, migrated to Sydney. As they established their business in Sydney, their focus shifted to casting production, so they would make a jewellery model, cast the metal, and sell to retailers across the country.

Shortly after, we started working with a diamond broker from India, a lovely man, with whom we still work with today. Slowly the business started growing. By 1988 we had 1500 accounts, but as we headed for recession and things were shaky, Gregory Bros. started searching for a store to begin retailing directly to the public. As migrant retail-rookies, with virtually no English, it took sometime before they got an opportunity and someone was willing to have a conversation!

Eventually, in 1989 we opened the first store in Blacktown. When we opened, we opened with TAG Heuer as a watch brand partner. We just sold one or two watches in the first nine months of trading, so we gave up our agency for the brand. Within 2 years, TAG Heuer became the brand to have and everyone was asking for it! We tried hard to get the brand back and of course it wasn’t as easy as the first time! From 1989 till date we opened several stores. We were in Blacktown, Liverpool, Bankstown & Sydney’s MLC Centre etc. We also introduced other watch brands as the business was growing. In the mid 90’s one of the founders, our late Uncle Abraham left the business, so it was my father Chris, his brother Lahdo, and my Uncle Isak who continued.

Today, although retired, Uncle Isak is still involved in the business, and my father & Uncle Lahdo are still very active in the day to day running of Gregory Jewellers. In fact, the entire family has a part to play. Lahdo’s sons Simon, manages our workshop, Edward is our co-chief executive and Robert does our diamond buying and looks after general operations. My sister Suellen works alongside me in Bondi Junction, and Sara manages our merchandising. We may have many stores and a bustling head office but we are still very much a family business.

Alesandro Ljubicic and Monika Radulovic

EG: I first met Alesandro at an event we hosted with IWC Schaffhausen, but as an ex-colleague of our marketing manager, I had been introduced to his incredible work before. Alesandro is a gentleman, an incredible artist, and we were thrilled to support his recent showing, The Scent of Painting – the show was mind blowing. It was at this showing we were first introduced to Monika, current reigning Miss Universe Australia, who happens to be Alesandro’s fiancé. Surprisingly it was Monika’s charisma that drew us in, not only her beauty. She is a wonderful ambassador for Australia on the world stage, and equally wonderful in her support of our brand. We’re honoured to work with her.

You have chosen to work with some of the most renowned brands in the industry. How do you choose which brands you would like to work with?

HG: We have many relationships and we invest both time and money into these partnerships to keep them strong. We try not to favour one brand over another and prefer to use our business savvy rather than personal preference when making decisions about the brands we choose to work with.

The core values of our business are honesty & integrity which is always key in our dealings with brands. We have this same, open and honest approach with our staff, which creates a very comfortable environment for all concerned.

What we are seeing recently is avid watch enthusiasts and collectors turning to their superannuation fund savings to invest in luxury watches with the expectation that these assets will ultimately assist to fund their retirement. Should people consider watches as an investment? What are your thoughts?

EG: We had been discussing that internally. It is a good way to expose people to the luxury watch market. Usually when people have a taste for luxury, they don’t just buy one. Having a watch on the wrist is the best way to market it. I’d like to think that we would be able to come out and offer clients something.

What are your views on the importance of service but also education?

HG: Knowledge is power. Whether we are presenting a watch or a piece of jewellery, we strive to ensure that our teams communicate well and ensure a positive experience and tell the story of the brand, and not just focus on the sell. We have customers that come up to see how much we know! If you are talking to someone who knows the product it makes a difference. From an after-sales perspective, we are talking about the magnetism in watches and doing our best to make customers aware of some of the issues they may experience with mechanical watches; which really helps us maintain close relationships with clients as time goes by.

What do you enjoy most about the world of watchmaking?

HG: Personally, I love the heritage of watchmaking. It’s very easy to consider it as product bought and sold, but it really is a whole other world of incredible artistry that has been carried on & carefully taught for generations.Sure there are technical advances in the production of watches nowadays, but the heritage of watchmaking is always at the core of every brand, and that’s really what makes owning a Swiss watch special.

What are your thoughts on the argument of exclusivity. In other words, keeping the volume low to preserve exclusivity.

EG: Australia is a very small market – so when you’re talking about the top end of fine watchmaking, it makes sense to have limited distribution doesn’t it? We’re proud partners of 21 brands. Our integrity as a retailer in this business is widely acknowledged, which really makes us a go-to when considering acquiring a fine timepiece.

Watchmaking and jewellery…

EG: I think they are very different worlds. We are first and foremost a jewellery brand, and our strength is in adaptability. Being able to modify and accommodate every client’s needs has been key to our success. The core values of our brand, and strict standards when it comes to quality are present in each and every piece we create, regardless of the items value.

How open are Australian’s to independent watchmakers; for example Arnold & Son?

HG: When it comes to a brand like Arnold & Son, I think it’s a story that Australian’s will love and appreciate – the product is absolutely incredible, and their history as a watchmaker is truly special. The Australian client is very well read. Independent brands may be new to market, but there are certainly clients on our shores.

After Sales…

EG: I think the biggest obstacle with after-sales service in this country is Geography. When talking about highly complicated, valuable pieces, those with the skills to service are just as rare as the timepieces themselves. Having to send pieces abroad for service does seem a little archaic, so hopefully the watchmaking trade will continue to blossom in Australia to service the demand.

May 25, 2016 0 comment
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Followers Speak

“My passion for watches started when I was a child. My family manufactured watches for some global brands and I had the pleasure of wearing some of the watches. I worked with my family for a few years, and I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland every year to see the latest trends in the watch industry. The styles keep changing and the mechanics are constantly evolving. This is what has kept me engaged and passionate in knowing what’s new in the world of Horology”.

Watch advice…

I think all collections should begin with classic timeless pieces like the Rolex 14270 or even a Patek Philippe 3484.

Could you tell us a little about the piece you wear?

I’m currently wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, Chronograph with a horn back alligator strap. I like the versatility in the aesthetics; the brushed stainless steel octagonal bezel gives it a sporty look whilst the alligator strap adds that formalness to it.

So why Audemars Piguet?

Audemars Piguet is a truly unique watch manufacturer. It is one of the few global haute horology brands that remain in the hands of its founding family, with several members of the Audemars family still sitting on its board. Coming from a family business of 3 generations, I like it when a brand maintains their values, style and pass on skills that can be used by the next generation.

What’s next on the list?

I have a few watches that are on my list: Patek Philippe (Grand Complication), IWC (Portugieser Chronograph), and Hublot (Shawn Carter By Hublot).

Could you tell us a little about The Suit Concierge?

The Suit Concierge is our bespoke tailoring store in Melbourne and Hong Kong, which make custom made garments for men and women from all walks of life. My wife and I manage the business with help from our highly qualified team who are all fashion and textile graduates from prestigious universities.

The worlds of bespoke tailoring and fine watchmaking..

Attention to detail and quality are the key similarities between watchmaking and bespoke tailoring. If you find the movement of a watch or the construction of a suit is flawed, you can tell immediately from the functionality of the watch or the overall look of a suit. An impeccably tailored suit and likewise, an impeccable watch is already a statement of affluence and taste; what you wear speaks volumes about you even before you utter a word. A well tailored suit and a luxury watch both portray sophistication, refinement and status.

January 6, 2016 0 comment
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