“Montblanc has no customers, but friends of the brand that share the same passion” – Francesc Carmona, Managing Director, Montblanc Australia & New Zealand
Montblanc has shaken things up quite a bit this year, but not without drawing heavily from the maison’s glorious past. Not long ago, Montblanc announced the appointment of Francesc Carmona as the new Managing Director of Montblanc Australia & New Zealand. With more than 15 years of experience in the luxury sector, including heading the maison’s Spanish subsidiary (Montblanc Spain), Carmona brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and industry expertise.
In a recent interview with Hours and Minutes Australia, the Richemont Executive shares his excitement for Montblanc and sheds some light on a few things to watch out for in 2020.
Excerpts from the conversation we had…
Francesc… Congratulations on your appointment as the new Managing Director of Montblanc Australia & New Zealand. What influences did you take away during your time with Richemont Iberia and how do you see the future of Montblanc and Montblanc timepieces in Australia and New Zealand?
Thank you very much for the warm welcome and giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts in your magazine. Montblanc is much more than a brand. It is a lifestyle. Once you experience it, you simply cannot live without it. My time in Spain was a great experience full of passion. You eventually realize that Montblanc has no customers but friends of the brand that share the same passion. After being in Australia for 4 months, I see and feel the same passion in this part of the world. We have a huge opportunity in Australia and New Zealand to meet the desire of all friends of the brand, whether it is through our handcrafted writing instruments from Germany, our watches from Switzerland, leather from Florence or our new tech and travel accessories.
Since 1997 we have been creating watches in the heart of Switzerland. All over the world the success of our timepieces is great and there is a huge opportunity here in this part of the world. From our classic Star legacy pieces, the Heritage collection to the 1858 sport vintage conception, but also when our friends of the brand discover the unique timepieces from Minerva then the understanding of Montblanc in this field goes certainly above any expectations.
There is no desire without rarity… Your thoughts… How true is this for a brand like Montblanc?
I think that desire comes from the values that a product represents and whether these identify with your own. If we take a step further, the increased desire to collect watches leads to our unique and rear limited Editions. Our existing limited Edition watches and writing instruments have become a piece of art, reinforcing this desire even further combining aesthetics, history, handcraftsmanship, uniqueness and art.
If there was something you could open people’s eyes about, here in Australia, about Montblanc timepieces, what would that be?
I personally think that the 1858 collection is a collection that could possibly wake up the Australian friend of the brand. It has vintage aesthetics together with the professional Minerva watches from the 20’s and 30’s inspiration and also expressing the spirit of mountain exploration.
Why was adventure such a strong focus for the brand in 2019? What can we expect for 2020?
Montblanc is a very dynamic brand. We are continuously exploring new territories. 3 years ago we launched the luggage line, My4810, and at the same time we launched summit, the only digital watch with an authentic watch case made in Switzerland. In the coming weeks we are launching a new line of headphones which has all the necessary features to conquer this territory.
The new year is looking very promising with some exciting product launches and we are bringing some amazing high artistry pieces to Australia for the first time. From a distribution point of view, we will be enlarging our retail network in New Zealand. In terms of communication you will be able to discover a brand new campaign reflecting what our brand stands for and reinforcing our lifestyle concept, but we have to wait a bit more to reveal the details…..
What, in your opinion, are the true values of watchmaking a buyer of high-end watches should be aware of?
Seeing / wearing a watch, knowing that all the components have been handmade from spiral to hands, including the tools to create components, this fascinates me. My first value is then the uniqueness, even if the edition is made of several pieces, any one is unique as it has been made by hand by a passionate. The second value is then by definition the hand craftsmanship. Finally there must be history – the reason why the piece has been made a certain way or another, the recognition of the DNA. For instance when you see a Minerva movement, you know exactly what the history behind it is.
What do you think is the most underrated or overlooked reference?
The heritage collection especially the new vintage one is still to be discovered, the new launches with old dials and hand codes, bombed glasses and a Minerva touch, are one of the hidden surprises of this year’s collection. Star Legacy and 4810 are the collections reflecting the classic codes of Montblanc, whereas 4810 is a more sporty watch specially after the re-styling last year but less sporty than Timewalker. I do not want to forget our extremely elegant Boheme line for ladies.
How important is a ‘Good’ ‘Genuine’ story to millennials today? How has storytelling evolved for Montblanc?
Authenticity is important to communicate, and there is no authenticity without genuinity, therefore I feel it is very important to speak from the emotion of the brand which comes from history. This is the essence of our brand. Storytelling is emotion and we want to inspire millennials in an authentic way and of course reinforce the lifestyle element through our products.
Today Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Panerai have all introduced ‘Care Programs’ with extended international warranty’s. Is this on the cards for Montblanc?
We belong to Richemont and we will see what the future brings.
-END OF INTERVIEW-
The horologic legacy of the Montblanc Manufactures
Centuries of collected knowledge, decades of experience, years of development and hundreds of hours of dedicated labour – they all culminate in a Montblanc timepiece coming to life. With their skills and knowledge handed down through generations, the watchmakers at the Montblanc Manufactures in Villeret and Le Locle put their pride, passion and soul into each timepiece. Villeret’s watchmaking tradition began almost 160 years ago, when in 1858 Charles-Yvan Robert founded a watch workshop in a small village in the Saint-Imier valley. Under the name Minerva, the company gained worldwide recognition for its precise chronometry and became a leading specialist in the fabrication of professional watches. Capable of measuring time accurately to 1/100th of a second in 1916, its mechanical stopwatches were fundamental to the evolution of modern-day motor racing.
As the former home of Minerva, the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret upholds the manufacture’s legacy of expertise. Here, Montblanc’s Movement & Innovation Excellence Centre continues to enrich fine Swiss watchmaking with ground breaking innovations. This watchmaking expertise gained from high complications is also applied to the creation of highly functional small complications. In the Manufacture’s ateliers, all the movements’ components are carefully crafted and decorated by hand using traditional methods. The watchmakers chamfer every edge, polish even the tiniest wheel and adorn plates and bridges with the traditional circular graining and “Côtes de Genève” stripes. Their great dexterity and skill are also indispensable in crafting delicate balance springs, an accomplishment only very few watch manufactures manage. Manifesting in a superior level of craftsmanship and timelessly elegant design codes, the Montblanc Manufactures’s horological knowledge is deeply embedded in all Montblanc timepieces, handing the passion for fine watchmaking on from grand complication timepieces to refined three-hand watches.
For more information visit www.montblanc.com