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Laurent Ferrier slows the pace
Point of View

Laurent Ferrier slows the pace

Monday, 09 December 2013
By Louis Nardin
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Louis Nardin
Journalist and consultant

“Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.”

Georges Jacques Danton

“A quality watch is a concentration of creativity, rare technical and scientific skills, and age-old gestures. It appeals to the desire for uniqueness and distinction; it is a badge of knowledge, power and taste. A watch has many stories to tell; the details and secrets provide the relish”.

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4 min read

Sylvère Demonsais, Chief Executive since August, has identified a number of strategic points on which to build healthy, solid growth. These include conquering markets in both the Americas. Interview.

It’s all happened fast for the brand which Laurent Ferrier, a 37-year veteran of Patek Philippe, launched in 2008. In the spring of 2010, the eponymous brand was unveiling Galet, its first timepiece. Come autumn it was picking up the Men’s Watch award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This debut creation, with its smooth curves and tourbillon with double balance spring, immediately struck a chord with aficionados. Three more timepieces quickly followed, one driven by the same calibre with the addition of a “secret” mechanism, and two others with a new micro-rotor movement in a basic version or with dual-time display. All four perfectly illustrate the brand’s exponential growth.

This meteoric rise is precisely why majority shareholder François Servanin took the decision to part company forthwith from Chief Executive Olivier Müller. He was replaced by Sylvère Demonsais, at the commands since August this year. Prior to this, Mr Demonsais was with Baume & Mercier before moving to a management position with the Richemont Group, then to Greubel Forsey and later de Grisogono. A specialist in finance and strategy, Sylvère Demonsais is a minority shareholder in the brand, alongside Laurent Ferrier, his son Christian, Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini.

We must build stronger, tailored relations with the people who buy our watches.
Sylvère Demonsais
What have been your priorities since your appointment as CEO?

Sylvère Demonsais: Laurent Ferrier must open up to new markets, increase the number of points of sale, fine-tune its communication strategy, and strengthen customer relations. We currently make most of our sales in Hong Kong and Singapore and, to a lesser extent, Japan and Ukraine. We need to break into new markets, particularly North and South America, and build up our presence in Europe for a balanced customer base.

How do you intend developing customer relations?

Because we are a young and relatively small brand, our communication and advertising are minimal, hence why we must build stronger, tailored relations with the people who buy our watches. For example, we have plans to launch a club exclusively for our end customers. In the coming weeks, the brand will be moving to new premises, a house in the village of Plan-les-Ouates, in the canton of Geneva, where we’ll have more space for the brand’s 16 employees, half of whom are watchmakers. Part of the house has been set aside for our customers and visitors. The theme of this area’s design is the pebble, one of the key elements of our brand identity.

Geneva is more than a name; it's a territory with a very real identity.
Sylvère Demonsais
In the space of four years, Laurent Ferrier has developed three movements, four different models, and sold close to 200 watches. What's next?

The brand has developed so quickly that we now need to rein in growth and establish solid foundations. This means, for example, that the next movement in the pipeline, a tourbillon with a complication, won’t be unveiled before end 2015 at the earliest. First we’re focusing on establishing our existing models, mainly by introducing new dials and in particular grand feu enamel dials, to propose different and exceptional versions. At the same time we’re continuing production of special commissions, although these must fit with the brand’s style signatures of a pure, simple design with a case, hands and crown shape that meets “Laurent Ferrier” criteria. However, this remains a secondary aspect of production, accounting for 20% of revenues at the most.

New criteria for the Poinçon de Genève now apply. Will the brand have its production certified?

Laurent Ferrier watches already meet Poinçon de Genève standards, by virtue of their technical specifications, decoration and finish. However, for logistics and cost reasons, we have decided against certification. We do nonetheless submit certain models for certification, as customers sometimes specifically request that their watch be tested, for example by the Besançon Observatory for chronometric precision.

The brand makes no secret of its attachment to the Geneva region. Why is this?

One reason is that Laurent Ferrier was born in the region and has lived there all his life. Equally important is the quality of the suppliers we work with, and who are also located here. Geneva is more than a name; it’s a territory with a very real identity.

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