In Conversation With Catherine Rénier, CEO Of Jaeger-LeCoultre
MW: How has the Covid crisis affected the luxury watch industry in your opinion, and how has it affected JLC, in particular?
Catherine Rénier: The key words are resilience and agility. We had to rethink the way we wanted to deliver all our messages. Fortunately, our products and messages were on good track, and ready to be shared. The change has been with the digital turn that was slightly quicker than expected. We are really happy with how the situation has been handled by our teams so far, and it is a great example of the passion and determination of the people behind the watches.
MW: What would be your road map going forward, when the market reopens?
CR: It is comforting to see how quickly we managed to adapt to this new context. For example, the response to the digital platform has been very positive. At Jaeger-LeCoultre, we will continue to fuel this platform with new timepieces throughout the year. Our first chapter of the year was about the new Master Control collection, with the new Master Control Chronograph Calendar, and the reveal of strong performance improvement on our calibers. In the future, we will focus on the opportunities that we are given. We have to adapt and constantly evolve our business model, and develop new channels from digital to physical. After all, we are only a little piece of this long 187 years story for the Maison.
MW: Some cities in China are back in business. What has been JLC’s experience so far?
CR: In this unique context, many things are going digital, with the example of the Watches and Wonders digital platform, which celebrated the Chapter 1 of the 2020 novelties. We shared videos giving the perspective of our designers, and highlighting the inspiration of our creations. In these special times, our inspirations remain the beauty of the Vallee, and the peacefulness of the Nature surrounding the Manufacture. But the new Master Control are also already available in boutiques. The Date and Calendar models have been delivered to our boutiques, and the first ones sold are already on the wrist of our clients. The rest will come progressively, in the next months.
MW: Tell us the idea behind your stunning new Master Control series that you launched last month.
CR:The Master Control, first launched in 1992, was inspired by the legendary watches created by Jaeger-LeCoultre in the 1960s, with useful functions and highperformance calibres. We have decided to keep this vintage spirit, as it is part of the collection’s identity, while bringing it into the present with revised design. Today, Master Control has been relaunched with further improvements in the calibre (stronger reliability, 70 hours power reserve). These technical improvements remind the reliability of our calibres, all covered by the up-to-8-years warranty of the Care program. We also decided to give a new look to the collection with highly-qualitative Novonappa calf straps. The case was also reworked and redesigned with new lugs integration. And a new function, the Chronograph Calendar, is introduced.
MW: What was the idea behind giving it the classic look that harks back to watches in the ’50s and ’60s?
CR: The ’50s are in the DNA of the Master Control collection, but there is more. Master Control is a subtle blend of historic influence and modernity, thanks to the very refined and readable design. The design of watchmaking of the ’50s embodies a certain form of elegance and sophistication. During the 2000s and the 2010s, the demand for larger and thicker watches was substantial. During this period, the watch cases increased in size. In response, there is, therefore, a return to a design that is more refined and to smaller diameters, which maybe explains the interest in the ’50s spirit.
MW: Would there be any more launches later this year?
CR: This year, we will talk about sound, with the minute-repeaters but also with the Memovox. We will bring several new Memovox to the public in 2020. One of them will be the new Master Control Memovox Timer, a Memovox featuring a new complication, offering the possibility, on top of the classic alarm, to set the alarm as a countdown alarm. It will also have, for the first time in the history of automatic Memovox, an open caseback, showcasing the hammer and gong of the caliber. Following the launch of 2018 and the new additions from last year, Polaris will also continue to be a focus in our novelties. There is still a lot to discover in 2020, as the Maison has more chapters to reveal. Stay tuned.