Some of you might not know about it but Girard-Perregaux’s link with the automotive world has been long-lasting. Following this tradition, the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based haute horlogerie manufacturer has just announced a new partnership with one of the most respected brands in the car industry, Aston Martin. MONOCHROME talks to Patrick Pruniaux, Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin’s CEO, to ask him what this alliance with the British luxury car manufacturer is all about.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – How was the connection between Girard-Perregaux and Aston Martin sparked?
Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Girard-Perregaux – As you know Girard-Perregaux has very strong ties with the automotive industry that were developed with different car brands. It started actually very early. You may know that we manufactured pocket watches for Shell in the 1930s. This is probably one of the earliest ties with the automotive industry.
With Aston Martin, we share the same love for craftsmanship and performance. Both companies are in similar stages in their development. Both brands have been building bridges to the future without forgetting the past and their heritage… and they both underwent an ‘acceleration’ recently.
What makes Girard-Perregaux and Aston Martin the right match?
Craftsmanship, technical mastery, design and an obsession with materials… For me, it is such a natural fit. The blend of mechanical expertise and design is very interesting. Technical expertise is at the heart of Girard-Perregaux but the quest for beauty and perfect shapes matters a lot. The same goes for Aston Martin. When you see the last Aston Martin SUV, the DBX, you clearly see a very strong DNA but also the way it is expressed is very contemporary. This is also how we envision design at Girard-Perregaux.
The idea of exclusivity, with a limited production is another shared value. Both Aston Martin and GP also have the reputation of being ‘insider’ brands, aspirational in their own respective field. Aston Martin is rarely your first car. GP is rarely your first watch. There is a learning curve to be in the know. It is an alliance, we could have had 20 years ago, and it is one will be proud of 20 years from now.
What is the scope of the partnership?
It is a multi-year partnership with two aspects, the Formula 1 and the road car operations. The GP branding will appear one the Formula 1 and on the team’s uniform. With Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, I am convinced the team will perform extremely well in the championship. As far as the road cars are concerned, there is a partnership on products, R&D, working on materials; the teams already started to work on R&D and design… and Girard-Perregaux is going to be present in multiple events with Aston Martin.
When can we expect the first Aston Martin edition from Girard-Perregaux?
In the weeks to come. It is an intense year for us, we are celebrating our 230th anniversary. We’ll celebrate it in the best possible manner with Aston Martin, with a superb creation within our Bridge collection. We are going to come up with a stunning watch. Something amazing that is pure Girard-Perregaux!
What other initiatives are to be expected? Could we see a GP x Aston Martin car?
Who knows? It is a very broad partnership. We are just at the beginning of what we are going to do. There is a clear passion on both ends that creates a positive emulation. There will be plenty of areas to explore. For instance, the Aston Martin design team has participated in high-level discussions on movements, aesthetics, materials, ergonomics…
Later this year, there is another icon that is going to be brought back, linked to our watchmaking expertise. It won’t necessarily be linked to Aston Martin but is going to be a significant milestone during the year.
What would be the guiding principles with regards to designing watches with Aston Martin?
Because both brands have powerful icons we don’t feel it is necessary to develop a new specific collection. Instead, we’ll be working within the scope of our existing portfolio to create limited edition timepieces, all the while reworking design codes and even creating all new movements that will reveal the full potential of the partnership. The Aston Martin team is as excited as we are!
The past few months have been challenging for the industry. How has Girard-Perregaux adapted to the context? What can we expect for the months to come?
I have been really impressed by the resilience of our team. Everyone has been committed during this challenging period. Teams have adapted rapidly. Naturally, we have taken all the necessary measures to protect our staff and to create the safest environment. People often work from home. Everyone has been so responsive. There was a great level of agility within the teams.
It was also important to understand what would be the aftermath of the crisis. What would change in terms of consumer expectations and behavior? The training effort with our sales force and retail partners has been exceptional. We have been extremely pro-active in this respect. Business-wise, we have seen encouraging signs of recovery.
Importantly, nothing really stopped. Take the example of the Aston Martin partnership. We engaged in that venture and brought it to the finish line despite being in the middle of a pandemic. In tough times, you need to prepare for the future, for instance by investing in our manufacture and improving our facilities, a physical illustration of the overriding mindset in the company.
I have noticed that mid-sized or small brands have been some of the most dynamic throughout this past year. Given our size, perhaps we are more easily able to gauge what people expect in those times, and what matters most to them.
We are celebrating our 230th anniversary this year with great new interpretations of our products, revival products, great work on our home, our facilities, our museum and last but certainly not least, great work across our markets and sales network. We work with some of the best retailers to make the brand even more exclusive, focusing and streamlining our distribution. Very often during a crisis, brands tend to enlarge their distribution network, we did the opposite. We reduced our number of points of sale by about 30% last year because we want to make sure that anyone buying a GP gets the most authentic, best experience possible. This is our long-term vision.
For more information, please visit www.girard-perregaux.com.