Matthieu Dupont, President of Montblanc SEA / AU / NZ, wears his crucial role with a sense of style and panache. At the recent Black and White Week novelty showcase in Sydney we sat down with the Richemont veteran to understand a little more about the magnificent heritage of the maison and its way forward.
It’s been an interesting journey for Montblanc in Australia. The brand has gone through quite a few changes in the last few months including setting up the newest subsidiary at 75 Castlereagh St. Could you take us through some of these changes and the focus for Montblanc in Australia over the next few months?
We wanted to establish a strong team in Australia, that would be in touch with the fundamentals of the brand. We have secured a team and important real-estate. I do see a fantastic opportunity here, whether it is in the watch business or the writing instruments category. While we are very proud to have our market share in our historical category, which is the writing instruments category, I believe that today we have a great opportunity to show what the brand is – a lifestyle brand. We have writing instruments, watches, leather, eye-wear, perfumes and smart technology! We have all these under one roof and have invested in each product category. For instance, in watchmaking we are a manufacture. We are able to have a strong and consistent production. Today, Montblanc has become a lifestyle companion. In order to complement this, we also need to have the right locations in a market. That is one of the complexities, as well as the beauty of the brand.
As a lifestyle companion…
We are keen to showcase how we are a lifestyle companion. The leather products are the fastest moving category-wise. The watches as well, are doing really well. I think it is a lot about communication. I still recall the day when I first saw a Montblanc watch, before I had joined the brand. I looked at the Star tourbillion suspended bridge, and I just felt that it was an unbelievable feat. People had to know about it! I just felt the story had to be told. Montblanc has many recognizable watches, such as the Geosphere. It is so different and I feel the pricing is great. We have many examples to share, for our story. The Heritage line is also very detailed and well-positioned. I think it is all coming down to showing that Montblanc is a lifestyle companion, and that it has the pillar of watches. We have got the right market for it in Australia!
Montblanc has dabbled quite a bit in the smartwatch segment. How do you see the development of this segment? Is it still promising?
The Summit 2 is a watch that has received quite a few raving reviews! There is a beautiful synthesis between the mechanical component and the complementarity of the smart technology within the watch. As we speak now, there is a new batch in transit for the Australian market. A smart watch giving you the kind of performance that this watch does, is truly great value for money.
Today, the three key price segments (1) Minerva movements (2) In-house movements (3) Entry-level prices, have made things a lot clearer for the customer. What impact has this had on Montblanc’s watch business?
The legitimacy of Minerva is what we work on. We know that collectors are appreciative of some of the high-end collections. Then, we have two other tiers which are qualitative and well-positioned. Usually watchmakers stay within a certain range. But, we have managed to surpass that. We have entry level pieces as well as high-end pieces that are talking pieces. That has enabled us to come out as a watchmaker and give a strong legitimacy to the brand. It also shows that we are serious about the long-term.
The Minerva Heritage is more visible than ever, through the new Heritage Line, unveiled earlier this year at SIHH. Do you see the trend of neo vintage-style watches as a deep and lasting one?
It is a trend amongst others. I think the right execution of this interesting trend is important. It is always nice and difficult to go back to the roots! You have to give it legitimacy in a modern way without alienating your DNA. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. There is something reassuring about it in the modern fast paced environment. But yes, it is a trend you cannot ignore. For us, the Heritage Line is an apt expression for this trend. We have all the right elements to tell the story!
Having a global footprint, how would you compare watch retail in Australia to say South East Asia?
I see a lot of similarities, rather than differences. I believe that the days of market specifics are long gone. What makes a watch enthusiast is common between collectors everywhere. All collectors will look at some elements that are common that will make a decisive factor in the purchase. However, I see that the Australian lifestyle is different, and this is a key factor. There is a work-life balance here that is special. Lifestyle and sports figures are big here. Hence, this market would resonate with specific watches. The Australian consumer will resonate with the 1858 collection more than others for example, because it is different, and more importantly ‘ADVENTUROUS’.
A strong heritage, a vision for the future and a beautiful story to connect the two…. Montblanc has found quite the niche!