Frederique Constant: From Bridge-To-Luxury To Luxury
Frederique Constant: From Bridge-To-Luxury To Luxury

Arun D’Silva and Jayanti Varma on Frederique Constant’s India journey, and its plan to move from ‘bridge- to-luxury’ positioning to a luxury brand

An HR specialist who worked with some of India’s biggest companies like HCL, Oberoi and Eicher, Arun D’ Silva ventured into watch distribution two decades ago, which led to the setting up of the Bangalore-based Retail Interface Pvt Ltd along with Jayanti Varma, an ISB alumnus who specialises in strategic planning and finance. The company’s biggest success in the last decade has been in turning the Swiss brand Frederique Constant into one of the country’s most successful bridge-to- luxury watch brands. Arun and Jayanti detail their journey with the brand in this interview.



MW: How has Frederique Constant influenced your understanding of the luxury watch business?
The brand has influenced our thinking, understanding of luxury, attitude to customers, communication and our ability
to present luxury with elegance. Our close association with the founders – Peter and Aletta Stass has been a great learning experience in brand positioning, pricing strategy and the power of design. We learnt how innovation drives market leadership
and how a leader’s conviction can lead an organisation to challenge market leaders. Over the years we have also been able to incorporate Indian elements in the Frederique Constant watches. A case in point is the highly successful launch of the Indian dial watch with the Devanagari script.


MW: As co-leaders spearheading Frederique Constant’s journey in India, how do you effectively harmonise your differing viewpoints when making pivotal decisions for the brand?
It starts with respect and shared values like professional competence, openness to learning, and lack of ego. Trust is a very important aspect of our professional relationship. We are not influenced by rumours and third-party opinions. All decisions are based on facts and ground reality. This results in the final decision being one that has been arrived at with collective wisdom. It also ensures that appreciation and criticism is shared. Over the years we have found that that when one person takes a decision, it is always in line with what the other would have decided.


MW: What have been the most significant challenges that Frederique Constant had to tackle in the Indian market in the post Covid-19 period?


Luxury products were relatively less affected by the covid pandemic. The challenge was to get the brand back on display at key spots, re-training staff, and initiating a PR and ad campaigns to reinforce customer confidence. The brand has come through the pandemic stronger than it was earlier. The big change is that part a large part of our sales has moved to online platforms. Overall sales have remained fairly robust and brand recall continues to be very strong.



MW: Considering the evolving preferences of the Indian consumer base, how does Frederique Constant ensure that its watches blend with their contemporary lifestyles and aspirations? 


Frederique Constant is among the few Swiss brands that has a continuous process of market assessment. The design teams work 12 months ahead of manufacturing. Sales trends across markets are analysed by extremely discerning product managers. The brand works on three levels of collections. There is the country specific core range; region specific collections like the Asia region collection, or some specific pieces for Europe; and then there are the international novelties which are introduced every year. Work also goes into making sure that there are adequate options of size, colour and price in each collection that align with market trends. All these holds good for the Indian market as well. As a result, our Indian customers have excellent options in all three segments.


MW: How do you channelise various marketing platforms to ensure that Frederique Constant stands out prominently in the marketplace?


The choice of marketing platforms is determined by customer habits. Over the years digital has taken precedence over print, and mobile has taken precedence over large screens. Social media has certainly become the most used platform and therein is the further challenge of how to hold customer attention. Messages need to be crisp and very short. 15 seconds is now considered too long. Given all these constraints, we still retain the ‘old world’ charm of the brand by featuring it in well reputed publications linking all the content to the digital feed of the publications. Well respected influencers and collectors are involved in the brand’s image building. Agencies associated with the brand also have an excellent understanding of the brand positioning.



MW: What is Frederique Constant’s roadmap for the future?


Over the years, Frederique Constant has consistently upgraded its product portfolio, through striking new designs backed by intelligent communication. It is among the few brands in Switzerland that has as many as 32 in-house designed and manufactured movements. This positions the brand as a leader in Swiss watch making. The brand now plans to leverage this competence to present its substantial collection as an integral part of the luxury watch brands from Switzerland. The plan is to gradually move away from the premium and ‘bridge-to-luxury’ positioning and become a well-respected luxury brand. With tourbillons, perpetual calendars, world timers and big date timepieces on offer Frederique Constant is positioned to become an iconic Swiss luxury watch brand.

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