-What image/impression did you have of Montblanc before being appointed as CEO of the brand? And now, as CEO, did your opinion on the brand changed?
As Montblanc is part of the Richemont group I already knew a lot about Montblanc. When I arrived here I noticed that the people at Montblanc are all driven by the passion for craftsmanship and a pursuit for innovation that has built the maison`s legitimacy in all fields. I am especially impressed by the level of craftsmanship and expertise in the own manufactures for writing instruments in Hamburg, for watches in Switzerland and for leather goods in Italy. This is very reassuring for all the future plans we have and I look forward to the upcoming months quite thrilled.
- With you in charge, JLC became an Haute Horlogerie reference brand; do you intend to do the same with Montblanc?
We hear that Montblanc is already perceived as an Haute Horlogerie maison by watch lovers and connoisseurs, especially with the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858. Also the Rieussec line is perceived as an iconic model. And the TimeWalker design is very unique and distinctive. For the new Meisterstück Heritage Collection that we will present at SIHH 2014 we also see this potential. It is a new signature line for Montblanc watches that holds up to the expectations of a true Montblanc Meisterstück: timeless and sophisticated design, perfect functionality from the 3 hand watch to the high complications- and refined craftsmanship. When it comes to the future development of Montblanc I see myself more as a catalizor. We at Montblanc altogether will further build our maison always being true to our heritage and the spirit of innovation.
-The Villeret line of manufactured goods, will it maintain its difference from Montblanc?
The Villeret line is Montblanc. Its 156 years of uninterrupted history in traditional craftsmanship is something very unique that you will rarely find anywhere else in the industry- and that needs to be safeguarded and further developed. We will continue to build on this heritage and develop the Collection Villeret with exceptional pieces like the ExoTourbillon Rattrapante that will be also presented at the SIHH. In addition, we will also leverage the refined beauty of the Villeret movements in our other collections, like the Monopusher Chronograph that will be launched in the Meisterstück Heritage line in 2014. With Montblanc Villeret we have introduced very exciting and groundbreaking innovations in a very short period of time. Creations such as the Montblanc Timewriter I Metamorphosis, the Montblanc ExoTourbillon Chronographe,the TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1,000 or the new ExoTourbillon Rattrapante have generated a lot of attention among press and collectors underlining Montblanc’s competence in the high complications field. So, Montblanc Villeret will always maintain its uniqueness while it will at the same time continue to complement the watch competence of Montblanc Montres in LeLocle.
-Can we expect from Montblanc to continue to introduce – annually – watch complications?
We will certainly continue to further expand our manufactures. Already today we have close to 200 specialist watchmaking staff working in our 2 manufactures in Le Locle and Villeret. In the future, we will even further build on the deep know-how of Villeret in movement development expertise and traditional artisanal craftsmanship on one side, and the extensive competence of Le Locle as a manufacture and quality testing laboratory on the other side. Both manufactures complement each other and are both a very important pillar of Montblanc’s watchmaking competence. So yes, you can expect that we will continue to annually introduce exciting watch complications that are based on this very special combination.
-How do you see Montblanc evolve (in the watch market) in the next 10 years?
We will pursue our strategy to share passion for fine watchmaking. For this we will continue to surprise with new complications introducing refined timepieces with interesting new functions in the 2-5k Euro price range. We will also continue to introduce groundbreaking innovation blending utmost tradition in our Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858.
- From now on you will have another management challenges besides the watch marker; how do you see the future of the line of writing instruments?
Montblanc is the undisputed leader in the writing instrument business since more than a century. Montblanc’s watch business has experienced an impressive growth over the past years despite market uncertainty and Montblanc has entered into the top 20 Swiss watchmakers in terms of sales. There is further potential for all Montblanc product categories, driven by an expertise in these fields. Our leading reputation for creating the world`s finest writing instruments stems from our dedication to traditional craftsmanship and an almost obsessive quest for quality and technical perfection. The market for writing instruments is offering tremendous opportunities to further grow for example with innovations in functionality, materials and design. Montblanc is perfectly set-up for this challenging task.