Patrick Hoffman, CEO, Ulysee Nardin speaks to Luxurylaunches

Late last month Lxuurylaunches got a chance to sit down with Mr. Patrick P. Hoffman. The CEO of the 160 year old watch company was in the city for the opening of the brands first monobrand boutique in the city. An avid lover of spicy Indian food he talks to us about smartwatches, brand ambassadors, complications, SIHH and a lot more.

Luxurylaunches – You had an association with Yuvraj Singh so any more indian brand ambassador that you are thinking about ?
Peter Hoffman – It”s not that there are plans right now because i would not like to refer to it as brand ambassador but rather as a friend of the brand & Yuvraj singh was the perfect example he was the friends of the brand even friend of the family jainani even before we associated with him officially and even today we are not officially associated with him but he is still friend of the brand and that is what I really like about that concept.

LL – But you think your products speak for themselves or do they still require ambassador?
PF – No, i personally believe that the best is if you can have your product be your own ambassador that is in my opinion a much healthier approach and a much more sincere approach because brand ambassador is not necessary sincere strength.

What kind of sales do you see from India?
I think India is the one besides China with the biggest potential. I would not like to compare India with China because they do not have same potential of-course but then it still relatively small and it is growing, its steady but we are investing over-proportionally in India for many years already because we really believe that there is a market which is ready,which is growing & which has a future and which has a grand potential future.

Luxury brands have been diversifying into other verticals. For eg – Mont-Blanc have moved into lifestyle recently. Is this something Ulysee Nardin has on the cards?
No it actually is the opposite, what we did last year if you look at our product cataloger of course all the watches from 2015 to 2016, there was a tremendous tensification so we reduced the number of our SKU’s tremendously and that has a few reasons one reason of course is efficiency, one reason is making communication much easier and thus the whole merchandising becomes very easier. And in today’s world since globalization it is very important how you communicate about your product and about your DNA and your philosophy so it was an important step which we took by reducing the number of our SKU’s and make the look and the appearance of the time pieces much clearer of the different families.

Do you think if you have a product category that has a lower price; for eg – a US $400 wallet, it would aspore people to opt for the brand at a younger stage and stay loyal to it?
It is possible i think particularly what you are saying if you have product which is priced lower which lets you grow and dream about brand or grow into the brand, but at the moment there is nothing planned in that direction

Do you plan association with auto manufacturer how Breitling does it with Bentley, JLC does with Aston-Martin?
Yes we have more associations planned and already doing in certain areas of the world with the boating industry. You know our DNA is more in the boating and the marine so i see more association in that direction not so much in the car industry even though it’s not unthinkable i would say never say never but I see more in the field of the marine.

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What would be your favorite non Ulysse Nardin complications or a watch?
A non Ulysse Nardin complication! That’s a tough question almost a not fair question. i think we have to go to a little 250 years back and i think at that time Breguet was really a genius at that time and i think when he came up with the tourbillon as a tourbillon i am not talking as a Breguet but as a tourbillon at that time atleast that was quite a revolution and it is something which i admire but that lies now 250 years back

What would be your favorite Ulysee Nardin watch, if you had to pick one?
I think it’s wrong to have pick one for me because i have had picks which change almost every week, monthly or yearly, but if i had to pick one if you force me and say which one means the most to me, i would not call it is my favorite, i would not call it is the one which i like the most but which one means the most to me in today’s collection is The Freak. Because The Freak changed not only the course of Ulysse Nardin but of the watch industry. And probably this is why it is closest to my heart.

What is that we can expect at SIHH
Three words which come to my mind 1-marine 2-innovation 3-craftmanship & make your dollar. To explain quicker, one with marine u can expect to get the mood of the marine where you enter the world of Ulysse Nardin it is very clearly there.you can also relate to the Artemis Racing association which we have, the Americas company because in 2017 it is gonna be the Americas company and we are associated with that and that’s why the marine word. Secondly innovation you might not remember but in 2007 we showed a timepiece which was called InnoVision, it was a kind of a Freak and was called InnoVision, it was a one time piece, its prototype which was featuring 10 innovations 10 patterns which have not been used but we published them in that prototype timepiece. In the last 10 years, 8 of those innovations have been introduced in our regular timepieces in some fashion or the other. For January 2017, i can only say something will fall from 2007, it is now 2017, Now i can leave your imagination open but that’s the second part of our 3 pins of SIHH 2017 the third one is more than 1/3th of our noovelties which we are gonna present in bars of SIHH have somehow related to Donzé Cadrans which is the company where we produce our enamels. These are the three hints I can give for SIHH.

What are your thoughts on smartwatches, would they ever be a threat to a company like yours?
Never say never, never we would do some kind of a smart function, i would not say a no, there is nothing in the cooker at all. But I also think its a completely different market, just like a cell phone which would lose its value immediately and its going to be obsolete after 2-3 years that is not the case with the mechanical timepiece. So i think it’s a complete different segment and i do not see any danger for a brand like Ulysse Nardin from smart watches.

What would be the most popular Ulysee Nardin products in india?
There are two lines, our marine line and second one is dual time & somehow the dual time has become really an important line in india probably more than any other in markets.

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