The Swiss watches or the luxury watches has its own aura around the world and India is definitely untouched by them. While the market was initially aimed at men, it has grown to become an essential piece of accessory for women as well. Sensing the demand and growing market, Switzerland based watch manufacturer Frederique Constant has recently introduced the newest addition to the most feminine collection of the brand, Art Déco. This timepiece reflects a perfect blend of elegance and style complete with elaborate decoration. Frederique Constant watches are defined by their high quality and differentiation and precision in design and manufacturing. We talk to Arun D'Silva, India Director, Frederique Constant, about the brand, the new collection, the overall luxury watch market and the challenges it faces in India.
Tell us about Frederique Constant, its inception, and USP.
Frederique Constant is a family owned watch manufacturer based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, Switzerland. The company is involved in all stages of watch production, from initial design to final assembly and quality control. Frederique Constant develops, manufactures and assembles in-house calibers, 21 different versions since 2004. In 2015, Frederique Constant introduced the first Swiss-made Horological Smartwatch, powered by MotionX® and entirely displayed with analog dial, thereby creating an entirely new watch category in the Swiss watch industry. Frederique Constant watches are defined by their high quality and differentiation and precision in design and manufacturing. Their perceived value, through the quality of design, materials and manufacture, is a key component of their success. Each watch is assembled by hand, with the latest equipment and extensive controls to ensure maximum quality and durability. The company embraces innovation to offer creativity and exceptional value. Its 32,000 sq.ft. facility in Geneva is ultra modern and offers the best environment for its passionate watchmakers. The brand entered India in 2000 and it has been a great journey since then.
Who are your target consumers? What qualities of Frederique Constant attract this group to the brand?
Our target audience is from 35 years onwards who love to own a great timepiece. Innovation and quality are the two main factors that attract our target group. Frederique Constant is continuously innovating and invests massively in this domain to offer creativity and outstanding technical features in its timepieces. Apart from that, each Frederique Constant watch is hand-assembled and each watch is checked and controlled over a long period of time by both human beings as well as special equipments to ensure optimal quality. We use cutting-edge computer software, principally computer-aided design software, to assist in the watch design and development processes. The designer will then build the model, component by component, layer by layer, which in turn will go on to define the manufacturing process for this watch itself.
Tell us about different timepieces Frédérique Constant offers in India.
Frederique Constant offers watches for men and ladies. The men’s collection includes:
Slimline Moonphase Manufacture: It has been redesigned in order to split the moonphase and date into two new counters, both functions adjustable through the crown. The movement shows off the famous Perlage and Côtes de Genève decorations present in all Frederique Constant in-house calibers.
Classic GMT: The accessible luxury philosophy is infused within this collection. Travelling the world with a stylish timepiece on your wrist is definitely a possibility with the Classics Automatic GMT. Frederique Constant is a master when it comes to combining classic Look with Swiss craftsmanship and accessible luxury.
Runabout GMT Automatic: The new versions of the Frederique Constant Runabout embody a classic, sophisticated watch featuring hours, minutes, seconds, date and a 24h GMT with a guilloché-decorated dial and applied luminous indexes. It is completed by a 44mm polished stainless steel 3-parts case, a see-through case back, which displays the inner workings of the FC-350 movement featuring an in-house GMT module.
Horological Smart Watches: Frederique Constant pays homage to the first Horological Smartwatch by unveiling its 2.0 version. The new men’s timepieces present a modern twist on the classic look of its predecessors. Arabic numbers replace the traditional Roman numerals, different coloured dials such as navy blue, black and silver embellished by four different style leather straps in their black, blue, dark brown or light brown versions turn this watch into a genuine sports model for the active man.
Classic Delights: Frederique Constant’s concept of providing accessible luxury timepieces stays true to the tradition of providing luxury items for an owner’s personal satisfaction
Horological Smartwatch: The new ladies models are a result of coming together of technology and tradition, and this case complements each other to perfection.
Slimline Moonphase: The Slimline Collection is a series of ultra-flat models. The fine quartz movements upon which this elegant series of watches is based have a thickness of just 2.50 mm. Dials are finished with a delicate guilloché pattern produced by a complex engraving procedure.
Tell us about your latest collection, Art Déco.
While over-sized watches became a must among women’s fashion, Frederique Constant brings back a more delicate and elegant model with the Art Déco, which draws inspiration from the lavish social parties of the 1940s. Its a timeless beauty that gracefully adorns the wrist of women. A balanced combination of modern materials and vintage aesthetics turns this timepiece into a unique fashion accessory. The smooth satin feel of the black strap contrasts with the seamless lines of the polished stainless steel case harboring a quartz movement. The delicate oval shape of the case emphasizes the intense details of the guilloché decoration on the black mother of pearl dial, the elegant printed white Roman numerals and the Breguet-style hands, which are all statements of the vintage look that inspired the Frederique Constant watchmakers.
Tell us about the current situation of Swiss watch/ luxury watch market in India.
The current situation of watch market in India is looking good especially for luxury, which is a niche segment. Innovations in luxury watch market play a crucial role as it drives the market growth. Also, the factors like rising economy with double and disposable income, increasing population in young age group, increasing purchasing power and brand options, help in growth of this sector. Our brand positioning, awareness, availability and pricing make our brand most preferred. Today, owning a good timepiece is a style statement. The growing demand for luxury products also drives the market growth for luxury watches. If a brand has to survive in the market, it is important to be on par with the customers’ expectations and ensure timely enhancement in technology and quality without compromising on durability and the designs.
What are the major challenges being faced by a luxury watch brand in India? How do India’s taxation system and other policies help or create hurdles for these brands?
The biggest challenge is limited availability of shelf space. There are very few retail stores offering that luxury environment, so brands have to work very hard to justify the space they occupy. Besides, India’s taxation system is a reality that brands have to accept. It is justified to levy higher taxes on luxury products that have no value addition in India. So, there is no issue with the taxation structure. The big issue is with the outdated and whimsical attitude with which the import process is managed by the government.
How has implementation GST and demonetization affected business for Frederique Constant?
There was a negative impact till about September but post that, things got back to normal and the Diwali season recorded the best sell-out for the brand.
How important is Indian market for you? Which are your top five markets?
India is a growing market and therefore a high priority for all International brands. For Frederique Constant, the top 5 markets currently are Switzerland, USA, Russia, Japan and China.
There has been an advent of smartwatches these days. Do you think they will impact the luxury watch market?
The digital devices that need daily recharging are unlikely to impact the luxury watch market. However, the Horological Smartwatch from Frederique Constant has enhanced the luxury watch space by offering a truly elegant watch that has smart functions and can be connected to a smartphone.
Tell us about your retail presence and also about your expansion plans.
The brand is now working with two of India’s most successful retail partners. These are Ethos and Helios. Frederique Constant is retailing out of 50 points-of-sale with these two partners. Both partners have the ability and the plans to expand exponentially and Frederique Constant will partner in that expansion.