QMIN magazine had an opportunity to meet Ulysse Nardin Managing Director Mr. Christophe Chorao for a 5-minute interview. For a third year in a row, Ulysse Nardin along with its retail partner in Qatar, Ali Bin Ali watches and jewelry, has lent its support to the Middle East’s premium luxury yachting event, Qatar International Boat Show 2015 (QIBS). Held in the region’s flagship yachting destination, Mourjan Marinas in Lusail City, the QIBS once again had Ulysse Nardin take on the role of official timekeeper of the event.
1.What is unique of the DNA, products and history of Ulysse Nardin that our readers should be aware of?
Ulysse Nardin has a very strong history. It’s a 170 years old brand which has always been linked to nautical and marine. The brand has been also awarded more than 4300 times for being a pioneer of new innovative technologies. We recently won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie of Geneve for the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon timepiece. The Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon is the quintessence of avant-garde mechanical technology, made entirely in silicium. Further, after being acquired by the French luxury group Kering, we are now proud sponsors of the Artemis team for the America’s cup, developing a Limited edition model, for our partnership with the team.
2. How do you see the role of social media with luxury brands and with Ulysse Nardin? How does this transform into the sales? Communication, education, and actual sales through online, is it something you have predicted a few years back?
Social media is quite new for a lot of luxury brands. I’m amazed by the power of social media. We have just recently experimented it. We created a limited edition watch for our partner in Abu Dhabi. A watch customized by the genuine Arabic figures. We produced one for shooting and we put the image on social media. All 50 pieces were sold in 2 weeks before we even delivered them. So definitely social media is a marketing and sales channel to explore and develop.
3. How does the positioning of Ulysse Nardin differentiate from one continent to another? And which continent you have the strongest sale?
In the 19th century, Ulysse Nardin was supplying the Russian admiralty as well as more than 50 navies in the world with its marine deck chronometers. Because of the heritage of our brand, Eastern Europe has always been our first market, followed by America. In third position, there is Europe, fourth the Far East and then the Middle East. But we also have to compare what is comparable. The Middle East is a quite new territory for the brand. Personally I’ve been recruited in 2002 to develop this market and we are still positioning the brand in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.
4. Do you receive a lot of requests for customized pieces?
The Middle East loves customized watches. I always refer to this example. We have a VIP client who has a stable with 17 horses. He took a picture of each horse and he asked a watch for each one of his horses. We also received a request from a UAE client to feature on the watch a scene of two Arabic horse riders hunting in the desert with a falcon. We created the design and manufactured the dial with enamel cloisonné. Ulysse Nardin is one of the last watch manufacturer in the world to use this technique. Each design could take 80 hours of work.
5. Is there any changes within the company after being sold to the French luxury goods group Kering last year?
It’s too early to say anything. But for sure we would have never been able to finance the sponsoring of Artemis team without the group behind. There will be also more synergy with other luxury brands carried by the group.
6. What are the highlights of 2015? Moreover, what is to be achieved next year in 2016?
Our best achievement for 2015 was the official opening event of the Ulysse Nardin boutique in The Dubai Mall. For 2016, we would like to open a boutique as well in Doha. At the moment, we have three boutiques in the Middle East: two in Dubai and one in Beirut.