PARIS — New generations of Chinese customers are discovering Ulysse Nardin, some by way of extravagant pop-up installations streaked with neon lights — outlining its signature X, which options on diver and skeleton watches — and big fashions of sharks.
This story first appeared within the April 7, 2021 subject of WWD. Subscribe Today.
One of a slew of European luxurious labels clamoring to fulfill Chinese customers on their dwelling turf with immersive, experience-oriented set-ups, the label’s sporty thrust and atypical designs, anchored by its marine heritage and an uncommon stamp of early legitimacy, are serving to construct relevance with sure high-end customers.
“We’ve got good momentum in the Chinese market,” mentioned Patrick Pruniaux, chief government officer of the Kering-owned watchmaker. “The market understands the historic side of the brand — the marine heritage — and we see consumers there are really interested in both the disruptive and historic watchmaking sides of the brand, with the Freak, the Blast and X,” he added.
The tradition-busting Freak watch famously debuted within the early Aughts with no case, crown or fingers, whereas the Blast has an assertive, masculine edge.
Adding to its historic credibility, the label was referenced early on within the Chinese encyclopedia Cihai. A replica of the primary version, printed within the Thirties, options the time period ‘chronometer,’ naming Nardin as making the most effective one on the earth. No different watch labels are talked about within the reference guide, a duplicate of which is on show within the label’s Shanghai boutique.
The model has been reinforcing its bodily presence within the nation, and opened 4 shops over the previous two years: two in Shanghai, one in Beijing and one in Chengdu.
“We are after measured expansion, it’s not our role to be widely distributed, but we’re in nice locations with good partners — we’re quite satisfied with this,” mentioned Pruniaux.
Online, the model is distributed by way of Farfetch within the nation, and is rolling out its personal e-commerce this 12 months.
Reflecting on the nation’s evolving tastes, customers of high-end watches are on the lookout for recent kinds, famous the chief.
“A great quantity have actually shifted from traditional luxurious consumption for traditional watchmaking for a extra sporty, and modern model — we’ve got a great provide to fulfill them,’’ he mentioned, pegging the age vary of the model’s purchasers within the nation at between 30 and 40 years previous — youthful than in different markets.
Stores and sprawling short-term set-ups undertaking the label’s trendy bent, but in addition make hyperlinks to the model’s historical past.
“When people say we have an audacious approach to watchmaking, well, it didn’t start yesterday — this is both attractive and reassuring,” mentioned Pruniaux.
The home has bolstered groups in China over the previous three years, and now has native headquarters in Shanghai. A mixture of shut coordination with groups in Switzerland, mixed with autonomy for native groups there was key to the model’s technique.
“They have a big influence on our strategy, we are constantly in contact with them — they play a very important role,” he mentioned, describing the groups within the nation.
The model, which is participating in each the Geneva and Shanghai legs of Watches and Wonders, will current its Blast hourstriker watch, with an computerized flying tourbillon for the motion and a price ticket of $104,000, in addition to an uncommon desk clock dubbed the UFO.
A reinvention of the chronometer that transposes the motion of a wave into the mechanical realm, the UFO sits in an aluminum and blown-glass case, weighing simply over seven kilos. The concept was to pay homage to the label’s origins — which date again 175 years — making chronometers for sea navigation, by imagining what such an instrument would appear like one other 175 years from now.
“We wondered what a marine chronometer designed in 2196 would be like,” mentioned Pruniaux.
Asked in regards to the significance for the model of arising with unconventional items, the chief urged the technique is important.
“It’s our DNA — we don’t have a choice. It’s who we are as a company — and who we are, period. It’s absolutely essential,” he mentioned. “One of our values is this freedom of tone.”