Designing your own destiny
Cyrus is a brand that borrowed the name of one emblematic personality of the Antiquity to justify its appetite for innovation. Walter Ribaga, the managing director, tells us about the company’s novelties and ambitions and how Cyrus has managed to become one of the collectors’ favorite brands.
Lifetime: You have been at Cyrus for a short while. What were your priorities so far?
Walter Ribaga: My focus so far was meeting both existing and potential customers and working on our brand new product, Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon, in collaboration with Jean-François Mojon.
Lifetime: You have extensive experience in sales, distribution and marketing. You know the watch industry in detail, with all its challenges. How does Cyrus face them?
WR: The main challenges of our industry are that, on the one hand, the major Swiss watch groups open their own monobrand boutiques, putting great pressure on the conventional distribution channels (i.e. retailers). Independent brands find it very difficult to get into the strategic points of sale. On the other hand, the selling of watches, including luxury watches, such as the Cyrus models, is increasingly moving to the web. Cyrus needs to find competent retailers, who are willing to promote independent brands and complicated high-end watches, which requires a customized selling process. It is definitely a niche market approach, and such retailers must already have a solid customer base consisting of collectors and so-called aficionados. The best way to approach these customers is clearly by organizing small-scale presentations, in collaboration with our sales force and the retailers.
Lifetime: The brand took its name from the prominent founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great. What brand values derive from this name choice?
WR: Cyrus the Great is considered to be a very inventive conqueror. History tells us he was the first to coin money as a payment method in exchange for goods. And he was also known for his fair, compassionate way of governing. The brand’s core values inspired by these historical facts translate into a desire to conquer a niche of the watch market through product innovation, while observing tradition and building up a fair relationship with our team members, as well as with the retailers and the final customers.
Lifetime: Cyrus has all the facilities of an independent manufacture. How important is this aspect in the context of your marketing strategy?
WR: It is of utmost importance. Through its development and independent production, Cyrus is the master of its own destiny. The company is committed to proving that haute horlogerie can be both original and different, without compromising in any way on quality or the respect for the watchmaking tradition.
Lifetime: What are the features of the Cyrus watches that collectors find to be the most appealing?
WR: Certainly, our unique and innovative complications. Also, our well-defined design plays an important part, as it gives our models a distinct personality, with the two crowns and the iconic cushion shape of the Klepcys line.
Lifetime: Which are the highlights in the current collection?
WR: The Klepcys Moon, with its innovative time reading system and its retrograde date indication – both worldwide registered patents; then, the Klepcys Alarm and our newest product, the Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon.
Lifetime: Which of the watches in the current collection is the most expensive?
WR: The Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon in 18K 4N Rosegold.
Lifetime: A Cyrus watch is instantly recognizable. How would you describe the aesthetics behind the design?
WR: Well, what differentiates Cyrus from all its competitors is the double crown (it has a crown on both sides, they both have functions, though on some models they are just an aesthetical feature) and the iconic cushion shape design of the case.
Lifetime: Please tell me more about watch customization – one important aspect when it comes to attracting collectors. How often do customers ask for this type of service?
WR: The fact that we have our own manufacture gives us flexibility when it comes to product customization. This service can be applied on the dial, the caseback, the engraving of the movement components. We do receive such requests now and then, and we fulfil them, but most timepieces in our collection sell as such or with minimal customization (such as engraving of initials or important dates).
Lifetime: Let’s talk a little about your brand’s presence on the global market. Where do you sell most and what are the markets with the highest potential for your brand in the near future?
WR: At this point, our most important markets are Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. In the near future, we will also be present in the United States, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East, among others. These markets definitely have great potential.
Lifetime: How do you reach your customers, what are your most effective marketing strategies/channels?
WR: In the markets where we have already built a presence, we count on a combination of classical print advertising and a growing presence in the social media (i.e. on Instagram and Facebook).
Lifetime: One can feel a decline in the interest of some of the major brands in international fairs, such as Baselworld. How important are these events for you?
WR: International fairs and exhibitions are still important for independent brands. The declining interest of some major brands towards Baselworld has given an impulse to independent brands. In fact, for Cyrus (as well as other brands) it was the best edition of Baselworld in the last five years. As long as some very well-known brands are still there, independent brands will see some benefits in participating. Other local exhibitions in different countries are not always interesting for independent brands. It very much depends on the maturity of the consumers, i.e. the more consumers who know and appreciate innovative and independent watchmaking, the more interesting it is for us to participate in such exhibitions. Anyway, there is an increasing appetite for customized presentation aimed at collectors and aficionados from different areas of the globe.
Lifetime: There are several other luxury watch brands that are highly innovative. Do you keep an eye on the trends in this niche, or do you follow your own strategy, regardless of what the others are doing?
WR: Of course we keep an eye on our peers in the niche of independent brands, but we follow our own strategy, regardless of our competitors. We are fortunate to have Jean-François Mojon at the helm of the manufacture in Le Locle – one of the most respected, prolific and innovative movement designers in Switzerland – and we exploit this advantage.
Lifetime: What is next for Cyrus?
WR: The new Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon with a smaller case and a larger opening of the dial is the beginning of an updated design of the Klepcys case series. We will develop new movements for it. There is not much I can say at this point about movements and complications, for obvious reasons. You will find out more as soon as the product is launched.