Based on the ground floor of the Crown Hotel, Melbourne, you’ll find it almost impossible to miss the new stir in Australia. 25 years ago, a small boutique in Melbourne, has now spiralled into one of the premium destinations for buying fine timepieces.
“Monards is a family business that started over 20 years ago. There was a tiny shop inside the Grand Hyatt on Collins Street which eventually moved to 101 Collins shortly after. Our second shop at Crown Melbourne has now been open for almost 6 months and we have spent the majority of this time building relationships with our new Casino clientele”. – Bernard Fung, Monards
Standing tall in the luxury retail space…
Buying a watch is a very special experience. They are often gifted in commemoration for special events like birthdays and anniversaries. Some clients will also reward themselves with a timepiece after reaching a certain goal. Monards aims to help every client in finding that special item. As such, we have the largest selection of brands under one roof. ‘Specializing in Swiss Watches’ is the philosophy behind creating Monards and was included underneath the Monards logo from day one. This philosophy is still being reinforced today with over thirty Swiss watch brands in the portfolio. Monards has also expanded the product range to include luxury jewellery such as Chaumet and Piaget. Luxury accessories such as Mont Blanc is another area which Monards is exploring.
The concept of a boutique within a boutique…
The shop-in-shop concept is a new trend in luxury retail, which is starting to gain traction in Asia. It’s definitely something new to Australia and the appeal is that clients will be able to immerse themselves into a space completely dedicated to their favourite brand. For example, Breguet has put a library wall into their space, which contains several books that outline their legacy.
What are some of the brands you showcase?
We worked with our existing brands with the Monards Crown project. Roger Dubuis was the only new brand we enlisted.
Trends in Australia…
More and more Australians are looking past the traditional sporty design with a steel case and bracelet. There has been a notable rise in interest for watches that feature materials such as black ceramic, rubber and titanium. Consumers are embracing the concept of owning a classic dress watch. The design is very simple, usually with a date and perhaps a small seconds complication. The Blancpain Villeret collection is highly regarded for this reason. The case sizes range from 38-40 mm and there are various different complications all arranged in a discrete manner.
A few months ago you signed on Roger Dubuis. How are the collections received so far?
Many people, even watch collectors, will not know about Roger Dubuis. This could be due to the fact that Roger Dubuis only produces 4000 pieces per year, which is minor, compared to other manufactures. However, Roger Dubuis has been received very well so far and there are many collectors in Australia who appreciate the brand and what they are doing in the high-complication arena.
What are your views on various high-end manufacturers restructuring their pricing and entering the accessible haute horlogerie segment?
It is not uncommon to see high-end, low production manufacturers introduce a new line using lessprecious materials such as steel and rubber. This is a great idea, as many people dream about owning a luxury watch, but can’t due to other priorities. The only situation where I can imagine watch collectors shaking their heads is when a manufacture introduces an exact replica of a white gold model, but in stainless steel. As such, the brands need to be very mindful of entering this segment.
A few years ago, there were watches that were a huge success, however today when you look at those watches they don’t seem to have that much of an impact. What do watch brands have to do today to continue to make their collections or their brand relevant?
Stay in tune with market needs, Implement designs that do not depart too far from existing brand philosophies and continue to produce quality timepieces both inside and outside.
A manufacturer that I believe has managed to embrace all three of these factors is Vacheron Constantin. Whilst the first and second considerations are important, it is ultimately the last factor, which is the true measure of a brands success through time. The Hallmark of Geneva confirms Vacheron Constantin’s commitment to quality. It is a twelve-step process, which subjects the entire watch (movement and case) to a rigorous testing and inspection regime.
What is the relationship between design and technology in watchmaking?
This question is somewhat like – which one came first, the chicken or the egg? Sometimes, the design will illustrate the gaps in technology. Sometimes, the technology can allow us to design in a certain way.