May 13, 2019
Saving the oceans, one reef at a time
You have four product categories: diving, aviation, motor sport and culture. Which is the strongest?
Rolf Studer: Until recently, our Classic collection was our strongest area. However, we have found that the Asian consumer has developed a growing taste for sports watches, and diving is now our strongest category. Our Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition, introduced last year, sold very well in China and on digital channels. It’s interesting how taste has really gone global.
Tell us about your focus for this year.
We are focusing on two limited-edition Aquis diving watches aimed at supporting and raising awareness for environmental causes. The Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition III is dedicated to a project that is working to restore and regrow coral on a large reef off Fitzroy Island near Cairns, Australia. We have been partnering with the Reef Restoration Foundation for nearly 10 years and have already supported a similar endeavour near Florida. The other watch, the Clean Ocean Limited Edition, supports the development of a system designed to filter plastics and microplastics from the ocean. Both come with a box made of 30 percent algae so we use less plastic to package it. We think this box itself sends an important message to the luxury consumer, because the people who can buy luxury watches are in a position where they have money to travel, and they are the ones who have the largest carbon footprint.
How do you account for the success of Oris? What have you done to attract a younger audience?
We create very functional watches that make sense for daily use, as well as complications that serve a purpose. We have always made watches for people who understand watches. In past years, these people were in rather close groups, but they now represent a massive audience on social media. What was a nerdy hobby has become a cool lifestyle. Oris has become a part of that lifestyle and it has really helped our brand. People understand the position of Oris and have always understood what Oris stands for. Part of our ability to attract a younger audience is because we have always kept our prices reasonable; we’ve never gone over the top.
What is the future of luxury watches?
I think that, with things getting more digital, people are looking for authentic products they can keep, that live with them, that grow old with them, that keep their value, and that they develop an emotion attachment to. Just like well-made writing instruments, luxury watches represent an important piece of craftsmanship, a nice point of contact in an increasing digital world. Oris will never make a smartwatch.
And how do you see the future of Baselworld?
I think Baselworld very much has a place in the world of watches and jewellery in the future. It is true that things are getting more digital, but it is also true that people want to interact physically with products and with other people who share their interest. It seems that Baselworld has an interesting outlook if it can direct itself toward not just retailers and press but to other stakeholders, including consumers, collectors and watch groups. If the trade show opens up to these people and gives them reason to visit, then the future is bright.
Hall & Stand
- 1.0 | D35