Interview with Daniel Riedo – Jaeger-LeCoultre’s CEO

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 7 min read |
Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Unique Traveltime

Jaeger-LeCoultre just opened their first boutique in Amsterdam, beautifully located at the “Golden Half Mile.” This is the new nickname for the Pieter Cornelisz. Hooftstraat (short: the PC), Amsterdam’s luxury shopping street, which is just around the corner from Amsterdam’s most important, and recently renovated and re-opened, musea. Daniel Riedo, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new CEO, was in Amsterdam for the occasion and we sat down with him to talk about the brand, the strategy and what we can expect from them in the coming years. Be prepared for an entirely new collection!

Daniel Riedo, Carice van Houten and Benno Leeser - by Francois Durand (Getty Images)
Daniel Riedo, Carice van Houten and Benno Leeser – by Francois Durand (Getty Images)

However before Daniel Riedo tells us about an entirely new collection and what kind of novelties we could expect from Jaeger-LeCoultre in the coming years, we asked him about his new role within the manufacture. And of course we had a look at the watch he was wearing that day. Until June 2013 Daniel Riedo was more internally focussed at JLC, where he had been for two year, after a 12 year career at Rolex and Tudor. It was a big surprise to all, including Daniel Riedo, when former CEO Jerôme Lambert announced that he would leave Jaeger-LeCoultre in order to become the CEO of Montblanc.

On Daniel Riedo’s wrist was the Duomètre Unique TravelTime in pink gold that was introduced during the SIHH earlier this year. Of course we covered this very useful traveler’s watch for you, and have some more photos to share right now. Daniel Riedo tells us that finds this the perfect watch for himself, because he’s traveling a lot to meet retailers, distributors and customers around the globe.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Unique Traveltime

Interview with Daniel Riedo

Monochrome: It has almost been a year, since you took over from Jerome Lambert and all of a sudden you’re in a different role, with different priorities and goals. How was that for you and what were the first things you did?

Daniel Riedo: In my previous role my focus was more internally and mainly on the industrial part. So when I became CEO I wanted to learn more about the perception and acceptance of Jaeger-LeCoultre around the world. Therefore I met with the people from our subsidiaries and our own boutiques, later I met with retailers and customers. That was a good way to learn about the positions on every continent. And of course I also had to spend more time on the development of new products and the new collection.

Monochrome: A new collection? Please tell us more! Is that part of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s strategy for the coming years?

Daniel Riedo: Ten years ago we started with the Hybris Mechanica collection and this year we launched the Hybris Artistica collection. That’s the high-end in terms of “metier d’art” or artisan works. From these two high-level pillars of development in our product range, we will also infuse some contents of these two collection into the core collections. This means that elements from the Hybris Mechanica can come into the Reverso collection, and also elements from the Hybris Artistica, for instance the enameling, can come to more affordable timepieces.

We are already working on future collections and timepieces for 2015 and 2016, and on more complicated pieces for 2017 and 2018. There are more than enough ideas and new inventions, however we have to canalize because there’s so much. We will keep focussing on our entry level pieces, mid tier pieces and high-end complications. That also helps training our watchmakers, because they need to start on relatively simple movements before they can work on the more complicated pieces. No watchmaker starts on a Hybris Mechanica.

In our product catalog we miss one collection and that will hopefully be introduced end of next year. This new collection will be between the Reverso collection and the Duometre collection, offering more in term of complications and/or more in terms of horological content as can be seen through the case back.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Unique Traveltime

Monochrome: In the past, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been famous for being (mainly) a movement manufacturer. Not only for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s own timepieces, but also for other high-end brands. Is this still something that is on the repertoire?

Daniel Riedo: We want to focus mainly on our own production, however we also cherish some long term relationships with other brands from the Vallee de Joux and in the group (Richemont Group). There’s no reason for us to suddenly stop delivering movements to others, however we have started talking more than 3 years ago to slowly reduce or stop delivery, but not in the near future. We will continue for now, but not for the long term. Except of course parts for after-sales service, which we will keep delivering for a longer period.

We must however realize that production for others is less than 2% of our movement production, so it’s a small part, however we would love to be able to use those two percent also for our own timepieces.

Monochrome: We know that the taste from Chinese customers can be different from the taste of European and American customers. How does the growth of the Chinese market influence the collection.

Daniel Riedo: Well we know indeed that there are different tastes for watches on each continent, however we do not intend to develop products for one region only. Some collections are more successful in China than in Europe, and vice versa. For instance the Reverso is becoming more accepted in China than ten years ago, when rectangular watches were not so much in demand by Chinese customers. In China classic lines are more accepted than sport lines. The new collection that will be positioned between the Reverso and the Master Compressor will be more for European and American markets and we hope that the Chinese market will also follow.

We know that Chinese customers are maturing, and becoming more interested in what is inside the watch. That’s good for us because they know that Jaeger-LeCoultre is a real manufacture and that we produce everything in house.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Unique Traveltime

Monochrome: Are more Jaeger-LeCoultre mono-brand boutiques one of the focus points for the coming period?

Daniel Riedo: Our strategy is not focused on creating solely mono-brand boutiques, but also to keep working with our network of retailers. Of course we do have a list of preferred cities in which we would like to open our own boutiques. Of the 40 cities on that list we’re now present in 33 of them, and for the remaining cities we’re only interested in opening a mono-brand boutique when everything is right, like the perfect location. The boutique remains that special place where people can get the full Jaeger-LeCoultre experience, and of course for the high-end complications and special boutique editions.

Monochrome: Jaeger-LeCoultre has an online boutique. Is it “nice to have” or is there a serious strong focus to sell more through the online boutique?

Daniel Riedo: Today the sales through internet are just about 2% of our total sales, so it’s just complimentary. It is more to be involved in this process. I’m convinced that our mono-brand boutiques and our presence in multi-brand stores remains, but also in some countries it’s important to be on the internet. Like in the USA, where sometimes the first retailer or watchmaker can be as far away as 800km. Also for some customers it’s convenient, when they are maybe a bit intimidated to enter the boutique. Not all products are available through our webshop. Complicated timepieces need more explanation for instance. But for the sale of straps it is a convenient alternative.

Thanks to mister Daniel Riedo for a very pleasant and interesting conversation. Here at the Monochrome Watches headquarters we’ll be eagerly awaiting the new collection that will (hopefully) be introduced end of 2015!

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