TimeVallee Launched In India
TimeVallée Launches in India

TimeVallée, Richemont watch group’s global multi-brand, luxury watch retail boutique chain is now launching in India. We spoke to the chain’s CEO Michael Guenoun about his plans for the Indian market

Back in 2005, as a considerably younger man, Michael Guenoun began his career at Cartier as a marketing executive operating out of Australia. In the near-twenty years that have since passed, the landscape of luxury goods has evolved in ways that few could have predicted. The man himself has also evolved in this time—having worked from markets in Oceania and Asia all the way to Geneva.

As the CEO of TimeVallée since 2021, Guenoun’s had his eye on India for quite some time, especially since he’s earned his stripes in the cutthroat world of Asia’s emerging watch markets. With forty-two outlets across the world, TimeVallée is finally bringing a cutting-edge boutique experience to three new stores this year across Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, in partnership with long-time retail stalwarts Art of Time. Like the name suggests, selling a quality timepiece is, in many ways, emotive, expressive, even artistic task—we sat down with the man himself for a quick chat on the world of watch retailing, the challenge of satisfying an intelligent, discerning global clientele, and the unique nuances of evolving India’s horological prospects.


TimeVallée inaugurated its last boutique at El Corte Inglés Castellana in Madrid, back in November 2023


Man’s World: Major Indian cities like Mumbai and Delhi already have a number of Indian-owned multi-brand retail outlets. And retailers are seeing growth coming smaller cities like Indore, Chandigarh, Surat, etc. Why have you decided to concentrate only on the major cities?

Michael Guenoun: Our first major venture in India took off last year with Tata Cliq Luxury, where we launched our first digital boutique in India—this was a huge success and inspired us to focus harder on India.

This isn’t a coincidence, however. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a huge evolution in the Chinese market, and are now observing a significant increase in Indian clientele from these cities across our global stores. We see that the consumption and appetite for luxury watches and jewellery from our Indian customers have been increasing so quickly—we say that now it’s the right timing to offer and sell and invest in India.

Everything we conduct in our distribution strategy today aims to bring our products and services closer to the customer. We expect that many Indians who have purchased timepieces abroad will now be able to not just repair, engrave, polish and service them, but even request evaluation and authentication for rare, vintage pieces. India is already full of existing clientele who have purchased watches and jewellery from our brands—what we aim to do is provide that full set of services into their watch ecosystem.


MW: India already has plenty of watch retailers. Why did you choose to work with Art of Time in particular?

MG: To accelerate growth, it’s important to partner with independent retailers and provide them with strong retail tools, services and concepts. Art of Time isn’t new to us—we have known them for quite some time, and compared to other retailers, we believe that they can truly represent the over-35 high-end watchmaking brands that we are associated with. While there are many avenues to enter the market, not all of them are well-acquainted with the crème de la crème of the industry.


MW: Any specific strategic reason that Delhi, which is among India’s largest watch markets, does not feature in your first phase of boutiques?

MG: It will be a step-by-step approach within our strategy. For the first step on our digital experience in India we clearly saw that these three stores were major priorities, and in time we'll see more expansion in India.


MW: You took the reins as TimeVallée’s CEO in 2021, right through the global pandemic. How have you seen the watchmaking world evolve since?

MG: The entire luxury industry—not just watches or jewellery, but they entirety of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ luxury as a whole has evolved. We’ve been really lucky to see solid year-on-year growth post-Covid. That said, I still believe that the key to success, in terms of distribution, is to not waver in spite of growing demand. Rather, it is to focus on selectivity and exclusivity. It is not simply about the acquisition of a product, it’s also about the emotion that’s provided through the ‘ceremony’ of acquiring it, whether it’s as a gift to a loved one or for yourself.

You can see it—a good experience will have the customer showcasing high emotions. We feel that possibly, people attach these purchases to important milestones in their lives, or as a special reward. This is and always will be a part of the luxury segment.


MW: You've worked in Australia and in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong and other emerging markets over the last 20 years. How do you tackle and penetrate emerging markets, like you plan to do now with India?

MG: At TimeVallée, we have a notion of what we call ‘sense of place’. So, everything we do is not just replicating what's worked well in another country. By understanding the culture of the country, understanding the specificities, the needs of the clients, we develop this sense, and adapt to different needs. This is extremely important to have a true resale presence in an active market or a mature market. What is the local market? What is our client? What's the maturity level in a market which is paying tax for luxury? This is how we approach developing markets with ourselves and the heritage of our brands.


MW: Tell us more about your plans for 2024.

MG: This is a very, very important year for us. Apart from opening our first physical stores in India around the end of April, we’ll be opening in a major target for the first time—the US market, where we’ll be launching a store in New Jersey as part of an expansion project we call the ‘American Dream’. We’re also set to open our first flagship store in Tokyo later this year, which we’re excited to see.


MW: In your twenty years of working with the Richemont Group, it’s likely that you’ve seen more amazing timepieces than most of us could count. Do you have a favourite Maison? Is it even possible for a true watch-lover to pick a favourite?

MG: *Laughs* do you have kids? I don’t know if you do, but what do you say when someone asks, ‘who is your favourite child?’ You love all of them, of course—maybe in different ways. It’s a very hard question to answer. All I’ll say is that I’m lucky to work with the absolute best-of-the-best.

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