Recently, Audemars Piguet has had a lot of hot news headlines – unprecedented revenues, quitting the SIHH, new technological partnerships. We decided that it was time for us to move to Le Brassus and have a good talk with the one person to answer our questions: François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet. It isn’t the first time we’re in conversation with François-Henry – see here, here and here – and each time, his straight talk brings the right answers. Today’s video interview (viewable on top of this article) is full of interesting facts and observations.
Without going too much into the details about the interview – we leave this to François-Henry – there are several important topics that we wanted to clarify about Audemars Piguet.
- 1 billion Swiss Francs revenue – Even though François-Henry Bennahmias emphasizes the fact that this number wasn’t the end-goal of the brand’s strategy, nobody can overlook this impressive performance. What is interesting is that this increase in turnover has been achieved with a constant production (around 40,000 watches a year). The increase is the result of a change in the business model – wholesale (selling watches through multi-brand outlets) gets more and more replaced by retail (boutiques owned by Audemars Piguet or operated with partners or franchises).
- Audemars Piguet pulling out of the SIHH – As we reported in this article, Audemars Piguet (alongside Richard Mille) won’t be exhibiting at the SIHH as of 2020. In the video, Mr Bennahmias explains the reasons for this departure. Since Audemars Piguet has drastically reduced the number of multi-brand retailers in pursuit of higher integration (boutiques fully owned by Audemars Piguet or joint-ventures with partners or franchises), the concept of this SIHH (which is to present collections to these retailers) isn’t suitable anymore for Audemars Piguet.
- Time to market – Audemars Piguet wants to have more control over the introduction of watches throughout the entire year. Time to market has become crucial for brands. In the past, many watches announced by brands at SIHH took months to be delivered. Audemars Piguet wants to change this (meaning, announcing a new product/collection and then deliver in the stores in the following weeks).
- Knowing the end client – The final reason, which has already been articulated by the Swatch Group (when it decided to leave Baselworld) was to have direct access to final customers – which means local events to present new watches not only to retailers and the press but also to collectors. By being closer to the end client, the brand has a direct relationship with him, knows him better and thus reacts faster to his needs and expectations.
- Certified Pre-Owned watches – An important step for the brand, which has, to date, kept rather quiet on the topic, is the introduction of a certified pre-owned programme inside the distribution network. Still undergoing a test period, this means that Audemars Piguet is now, in selected official boutiques, selling second-hand watches.
- Swatch Group x Audemars Piguet hairspring collaboration – Recently, the Swatch Group and Audemars Piguet announced a technological partnership for the production of hairsprings. While we all know that magnetism is an important issue for watchmakers, a solution was found in silicon. Yet, Audemars Piguet has always refused to use this technology, questioning the future of silicon technology. As a result, since Audemars Piguet isn’t sure this technology is sustainable, the brand was looking for another solution and has teamed up with Swatch Group to create a new antimagnetic alloy for hairsprings – a modern solution that is still based on traditional materials and that will be suitable for the coming decades (and more).
We leave the floor to François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, who answers all these questions in our video at the top of this article.
More details on www.audemarspiguet.com.