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Lifetime has spoken to the legendary Janek Deleskiewicz, Creative Director of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the haute horlogerie brand. About watches, cars, fashion and about that elusive quality that makes a brand successful.

Lifetime: I would like to hear your opinion about this year’s trends.

Janek Deleskiewicz: Yes, I think that this year’s proposal goes two ways: one is to focus on the women’s development, since for a long time now Jaeger sells almost 50% for men, and 50% for women. With the Reverso women and the Rendez-Vous we have two collections dedicated to women, and we have lots of success now with Rendez-Vous, almost like with the Master for men. The second way is to develop a new, simple Master, a new Master instilled with a simple graphic expression, but I think fundamentally, for Jaeger-LeCoultre, is to propose a unique selling proposition. All the time I do my development, and thanks to the mechanism of Jaeger-LeCoultre, I can make some watches different – not only in the design. The design is total, the expression of the time on the dial, with different components, but different for men and different for women. Sometimes, we can associate: the two-timezone can be also for women and men, but with different expressions – more glamorous for women, with some specific graphic, like the Sun & Moon to show the day and night. I don’t think we can use this function for men; it’s more precise with the 24 numbers – it’s more an expression of the two timezones.

Lifetime: How is Reverso going, because it was last year’s main proposal?

JD: Yes, it is important because they are iconic watches, but they are totally different for men and women. Women accept to wear a Reverso quartz with a normal shape, like this one, it will be a challenge to do it and to propose that, but now I’m sure it’s a success.

Lifetime: But I see the approach updated about the Reverso. You can go into the creation process; you can put your personal touch.

JD: I think the Florale number, this Cordonnet is working well, also the longer one, the diamond on the back, all these elements … the changing color, the creation of the Atelier Reverso in the boutiques, because Atelier Reverso in the boutiques it’s kind of bespoke. We give the clients the chance to change their dial (the system and graphic is the same) but they can add their own taste on it. Now we have something different to propose to our players and Atelier Reverso is a success.

Lifetime: And how do you control it, so you don’t alter the image of the product?

JD: It’s necessary to manage. I saw, for example, in Argentina, some Ray Ban with different colors – blue, red… But they make the color. When you go in the shop, they ask you which one you want, and they can make it in two days. Probably, we are also in this way – but the iconic element is always the same. We don’t want to change the shape of the Reverso, the graphics of the recto and the verso, or the function. One woman would want this kind of product, a perfect quality and perfect design of the Reverso Duetto, but on a different color.

Lifetime: Why were complications necessary in the Rendez-Vous collection?

JD: I develop, I insisted to develop, the Moon – the leader is definitely the Sun & Moon. But the problem was to make it the right size, because the mechanism is not the same underneath for the positioning of this element. But we make the 29mm, the 34mm and now the 38mm. In Russia, we have a lot of success with the 38mm, because they want big-sized watches, and they asked us for big-sized watches. Yesterday, we saw many of our clients in Russia ask for this size.

Also, in the US, we see a mix of sizes being requested. But when I see these watches, I asked my boss to make the big Moon, although it’s not really an horologerie function, because in horologerie you have the small Moon, but we make the real Moon in the middle. And I tested with Celestial before, and we decided to make this year’s model with the simple Moon at 6 and it’s a success.

Lifetime: How do you see the trends towards the watches for women developing?

JD: I don’t know, because I think there are two ways. The first way is the watch brand directly, like Patek, Cartier, Vacheron, Van Cleef, and the other way is the fashion way – like Dior, Chanel, which are very strong now. The communication of Chanel is probably the best in the world, well in advance of the others. You have Chanel, you have Louis Vuitton, and then you have Hermes – who’s far away from the two. Dior is not bad, although it’s a fashion player with the perfume and the others, but all these elements are composition of women’s expression. You have Dior perfume, you have Dior watch, you have Dior dress, you have Dior shoes, and all these elements are very competitive in-between. Some women want to buy two bags during the year, and they spend €7,000 on these two bags, and then get a watch for the same price. We have competitors in different elements. A pair of Louboutin is very expensive. Sometimes, a girl has a very nice Duetto and she wants the new Rendez-Vous, but she says “I also need to buy my Louboutin, my bag from Louis Vuitton”, and she hesitates about buying the second watch. That is why we need to think about this, I’m sure.

Lifetime: What can you say now about the idea of a luxury watch, with all these people trying to play the segment? Top 3 arguments.

JD: The first argument: we need to have our own personalities. Iconic watches. And probably, the Art Deco and Art Nouveau, we have developed this style since the beginning of the century – it’s one argument for Jaeger in internal design. Secondly, we want to give a good price. If you put a bad automatic mechanism coming from different factories, and you put it into an iconic watch, it’s no good. The third one is to be close to the client. The exhibition must be made for the client, with the client, and it’s not necessary to ask the client to come and see us. We need to bring the manufacture to the client. We need to bring the museum to the client. The artistic expression must be close to the client. That’s the argument of Louis Vuitton. They make the Museum in each place – in New York, in London, in Paris, when you go to Marina Bay Sands, when you start, you come to this very nice shop. At the entrance, you have this corridor with the element of Museum. You are in Louis Vuitton’s story…

Lifetime: You need to tell the story.

JD: Yes, we need to tell the story of Jaeger-LeCoultre. But not only in the manufacture, we need to tell it everywhere, because the people want to know. The know-how now is losing a lot of value, because everybody can catch the know-how everywhere. You go to the internet, and all the information is there, you don’t have to make any research. And that’s why it’s coming down. But we are Jaeger-LeCoultre, we need to invest this element and develop a lot to show that we are better in the watch industry than the others. We have to show something.

And that’s why I make these new watches, the new Master. In fact, the graphic design is coming from this one. This one was made in 1938, and it was a pocket watch. It is just an example, but it is everything. The Reverso is coming from 1931. The Geophysic® is 1957, it’s not the same watch. But the grandmother wore this one… You have the filiation, the family of the product. The children love this because their grandfather wore this one. It’s probably necessary to give reassurance in term of know-how, reliability, expertise…

Lifetime: Anyway, it’s the same as in Reverso. It’s not a square watch, it’s a Reverso. The more you know the story, the more you will enjoy the icon, the symbol.

JD: Yes, when you buy the Louis Vuitton bag, it’s the same. Everybody now says that Louis Vuitton has created travel. Everybody says that, although Louis Vuitton doesn’t. A story has been created.

Lifetime: There was also Goyard, there were many names, but…

JD: … but Goyard went very far from Louis Vuitton.

Lifetime: Can you tell me a few brands that you see in a perfect picture with Jaeger-LeCoultre? You mentioned Louis Vuitton a few times.

JD: In the watch industry, I love some watches. Some! There’s a phenomenon, for example, in France, with Tag Heuer Monaco. All the French boys love the Tag Heuer Monaco, because it’s an iconic watch, at this time – with the calibre 11 and 12. I don’t know why, it’s a French phenomenon, with its blue color. I have one, I love this watch. It’s the same as the Reverso, I love the Reverso! I love the Rolex Submariner. It’s like the sunglasses – you love the Pilot, but you also love the Wayfarer. It’s the same brand, but… I also love the Royal Oak. The problem of Audemars Piguet is that they sell only one watch. If you only have one watch to buy in AP, you will buy a Royal Oak.

Lifetime: And look at Roger Dubuis. In the end, this was the winning card, to go with the Excalibur.

JD: Roger Dubuis is a young brand, they have to probably establish some things now – like vision, to say : “Now we are Roger Dubuis”. But they need to have an iconic object, a face. They are nothing yet, this year they have the Excalibur, next year it will be another – they need to have one thing. Not for now, for the future. In the next…10 years. We’ll see what they will do. It’s also the problem of Vacheron Constantin. Vacheron makes a lot of things, but they have no line.

The problem of the watch industry is also the problem of everybody’s ego. Everybody knows what makes a brand successful or not, but not a lot of people know how to do it for the future. We need to take a risk, to make the design… When you engage yourself in the design. My problem is to judge myself after three or four years and say “I have a lot of success with it, but I haven’t done good things. I had success with a bad design”. Other times I say “I worked a lot on these watches, but I had no success with it”. And I discussed about this phenomenon with a friend who is a good writer. He told me that he doesn’t see the problem like this. He says that when you look at your production, when you look at your design after 10 years or 5 years, you’ll probably say “I wouldn’t do the same now” – but you’re probably better than before. That’s good. I prefer this way.

Lifetime: And if Jaeger-LeCoultre would be a destination, a holiday destination, which would it be?

JD: Definitely Bali! Bali is a great story, and a great story of the ancestors. Bali is really a mix between the new society, the architecture is very modern, and they take care of the ecosystem, they take care of everything, but they’re not so rich. They must take care of the ecosystem at the moment.

Lifetime: Thank you very much!

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