Luxury watches – Eastern European consumer profile
An interview with Mihai Ceciu, HOROLOGIVM / Maurice Lacroix (monobrand boutique – Bucharest)
What is the profile of the Romanian luxury watch consumer?
At least in the past year, we have perceived the luxury consumer as being more and more informed, more educated in the field. The connaisseurs take their time and after they gather all the information, they let time influence their decision. The crisis acts like a sieve. In the end there will be only the valuables. Case in point, only the watches that withhold will be appreciated, the manufactured ones.
Taking into consideration that you own the most important watch maintenance service in Romania, could you estimate how many Romanians own luxury watches with a value of over EUR 5,000? How about over EUR 10,000?
Strictly regarding the year 2009, the statistics from our laboratory show that over 70% of the watches that needed various repairs, including the most complicated interventions, had a value of over EUR 5,000, 20% had a value of over EUR 10,000 and 3% over EUR 100,0000. (It should be mentioned that the Horologivm laboratory does not perform repairs on pieces worth less than EUR 1,000.)
Which are the top 5 luxury watch brands preferred by Romanians?
The basis of the Horologivm name is its laboratory, thus we can offer a pertinent opinion about the top luxury brands that needed specialised inteventions and repairs. However, we can’t be certain that this ranking coincides with the Romanians’ preferences with regards to luxury watches. The data provided by our laboratory ranks Roger Dubuis first, followed by Audemars Piguet, Ulysse Nardin, Rolex and Cartier.
Please state the main factors tha influence the decision to buy a luxury watch (the reputation of the brand, the mechanism, the price, the acquisition as an investment, etc)
For the real connaisseurs and those passionate about watches, the decision is influenced by all of them put together: the mechanisn, the brand, the watch as an investment and the price. The manufactured watches, the complex pieces are not purchased under the first impulse. Basically, before we sketch a correct image of the factors that influence the decision to make a purchase, we first have to sketch the image of the luxury watch buyer. As I have stated before, I have noticed lately an increase in knowledge in the watches segment. Obviously, this helped the clients make wiser choices. However, the Romanian clients have not yet reached the same level of maturity like those abroad so they still purchase some watches only based on the seasonal trend.
How much does the material the watch is made of matter for the Romanian consumer? (gold, platinum, stainless steel, etc)
If we consider the connaisseurs of the field, the material that covers that heart of the watch comes second. What’s important is the mechanism and how complicated it is. There are many well known watch masterpieces whose value is given only by the complexity of the mechanism, extremely limited editions, with cases casesc made out of… steel. As opposed to these, there are watches that can be considered as being more of a piece of jewelry. They are made of gold or platinum, incrusted with diamonds and their value is given by the precious stones. Yet the prestige and value of a complex watch is given very little by the material of its case, and any collector and connaisseur can testify to this. On the other hand, for those watches which are extremely simple, with a common mechanism, the material becomes a component that considerably increases their value.
What is the Maurice Lacroix client profile? (on an international scale) What do you think is his Romanian profile?
Through its Masterpiece collections, Maurice Lacroix addresses those who appreciate the value of watches with traditional mechanisms, of hand made complex pieces done with craftsmanship and special dedication to this art. As for the Maurice Lacroix watches, the Romanian client is different from the one abroad only by citizenship.
Which are the watch brands that MAURICE LACROIX competes with?
In the watches segment the concepts of comparison and competition between models and brands are more often met. They are more significant and they underline the idea of innovative and contemporary manufacturing. According to specialists, certain models compete directly with others. The fact that each center of creation tries to surprise its customers with a more complex model every year, shows their preoccupation to constantly bring forth something new, the competition between the true artisans of pieces of jewelry that hide beneath their cases some over 200 parts hand made and assembled. Maurice Lacroix put over 600 parts in the machanism of its Memoire1 model – the only mechanical watch with memory in the world. With regards to complexity, inovation and masterpiece collections, there are: Vacheron Constantin, Richard Mille, Jaeger LeCoultre, Harry Winston, Zenith, Pierre Kunz.
How did you come up with the idea of investing in a watch maintenance service? What are the perspectives of this business?
On graduating the most renowned Swiss horologery school, Wostep-Neuchatel, I had to choose between the offers to work in Switzerland for famous manufacturers and my own horology laboratory for luxury watches in a niche sector that hadn’t been explored. I chose to come back home. The perspective? The above-mentioned data about the luxury brands that needed repairs in the Horologivm laboratory are enough. The reparation of a complex mechanical watch abroad implies: transportation costs, waiting, which can extend up to 6 months, repair costs. All of these put together have determined the Romanian owners of complex luxury watches to opt for the same quality of the Swiss work at the price of the Romanian market and with a waiting time significantly shorter.
What are the advantages of the monobrand distribution of Maurice Lacroix in comparison to the vast majority of luxury watch brands which are distributed in multibrands in Romania?
The fact that there is a Maurice Lacroix Monobrand Boutique in Romania is due also to the fact that the watch manufacturers wanted to create a special ambiance for the masterpiece items. These are jewels of the horology sector which cannot be admired or displayed alongside too many brands, no matter how prestigious they are. This would destoy the magic and the story behind each of them. The client has the advantage of being welcomed in a warm environment where he can get specialized advice and admire the pieces that abroad are displayed only in select shops.
What is your strategy to convince Romanians to buy from here and not abroad?
Once Romania has the same professional services and dedication, the same collections, the possibility to bring by special order any model, a maintenance service at a Swiss level – Horologivm was acknowledged as being an official Maurice Lacroix maintenance center two years before the famous brand was brought to Romania – the prices recommended by the swiss manufacturers to each Official Agent, why not opt for the same investment here in the country?