© Stéphane de Bourgies
Ever wondered how some of your favorite, high-end boutiques select which brands they will stock in their exclusive stores? We certainly did and so to find out we sought the insight of one of the most well-known characters in the industry, Laurent Picciotto, Founder and Proprietor of the iconic Parisian boutique, Chronopassion.
Laurent was kind enough to explain to us in his own words the personal process he goes through every time he selects a new brand.
Please note this article is also available in French. Please click here.
Laurent Picciotto – Choosing New Brands For Chronopassion
Above all it’s a question of conviction. You can only really know whether a choice is good or bad either too early, or too late. As far as I’m concerned, my choices are made based upon a mix of the emotions elicited by the watches, and the intimate knowledge I have of our customers, who already have well established tastes.
If we are talking about an institutional (mainstream) brand, then it’s always possible to get information on the circuit of resellers. Nonetheless, this information can sometimes be misleading as a particular watch that has sold very well one place may never achieve any success at Chronopassion, especially because we offer such a highly selective, specialist range. For example, we have twice bowed to the insistent requests from Cartier to enter our selection. And twice, with 15 years in between, we had to stop because our clients were not interested in this brand, even though it is clear that Cartier is well sold all over the world and remains a brand with no equivalent.
It’s all about what I call the client formula. For example, we record incredible performances on some niche brands, such as Urwerk, whereas at the same time, our colleagues, even if they are also highly specialized, are unable to achieve the same results. It’s a complex alchemy.
One thing is clear though; there is no miracle recipe in the art of selecting brands.
Moreover, what is right today may become wrong tomorrow, and sometimes within an incredibly short period of time. That’s the reason why, sometimes, we have had to drop some brands which have performed very well in the past but for whatever reason have now fallen out of favor with our clients.
For me, niche brand or not, I think the choice has to be driven emotionally by the design, the quality, and what really makes the watch different. In a certain way, these pieces have to evoke astonishment from both the amateur and the connoisseur alike, resonating on multiple levels of sophistication and understanding.
The people behind the brand also play a major role. It’s always better if there is empathy, if the brand’s vision is clear and if its organization is efficient. But once again, it’s a long-term process, sometimes we have good surprises…and sometimes we have bad.
For example, take the three latest choices I have made.
Glashütte Original Senator Diary
I discovered this brand, and worked on building a steel collection in order to create a reasonable range of technical pieces for amateurs at an affordable price. The constant will of technical innovation is particularly noticeable on the “Diary” watch, which allows the wearer to schedule an alarm up to 30 days in advance; similarly, the seconds reset which can be found on some of their models utilizes a step-by-step minutes positioning movement, in order to have the big seconds indicator perfectly align with the minutes index at the top.
The collections are deeply consistent, sober but efficient, and bring something really new to what we had already seen before.
Zenith El Primero Foudroyante 1/10th Chronograph
After a great deal of work to reducing a range of over 600 references, M. Dufour has done a great job of redesigning and innovating, in order to take the brand where it was expected to be. The tenth of a second chronograph complication is testament to this as are the more simple and classic pieces which look like they come straight from Sinatra’s Las Vegas, exhibiting a very efficient and attractive neo-vintage look.
Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck
It’s not a brand, it’s a legend. Previously we worked with them for 10 years, until 2000 when we stopped for business reasons. Nonetheless, I kept on visiting the team booth in Basel every year, always smart in their way of designing very stylish and technical pieces, such as the perpetual calendar “El Toro”, or the “Moonstruck”, which has no equivalent on the market and now…we work with them again!
The Final Word
We’ll have to talk again in the future to really know if these choices have been good or not. I assume they’re all good in one way or another, in so far as all these pieces are really wonderful watches. Nevertheless, to make this concrete they must translate into successful sales because there are no ingenious or exceptional watches that remain unsold – if there are, than there is a real problem! But that’s the topic of another discussion…
Laurent Picciotto is the Founder and Proprietor of the Chronopassion Boutique in Paris. Visit their official website for more information – www.chronopassion.fr