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Daniel Riedo, CEO, Jaeger-LeCoultre

This is a complex man, a man of many dimensions and many moving elements like the world-class watch company he represents. Daniel Riedo, who took over as CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre in July 2013, was with the company as an Industrial Director ever since 2011, and before that had been with the Rolex group for 12 years.

We sat down with Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, during his recent visit to Kuwait to find out more about what makes a man like this tick—a man of considerable charm and savoir-faire who brings a unique talent to Jaeger-LeCoultre—balancing the science of mechanical art and the art of business success with a delicate hand. As a former student of both corporate management and engineering (he studied at the University of Geneva), Riedo talks about the unique business mindset he brings to his position as well as the brand’s novelties, and also we also discover what approaches Jaeger-LeCoultre plans to take in the near future.

You joined Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2013. What was the biggest surprise, the most unexpected event which propelled you from Industrial Director to CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre? The most difficult challenge you’ve faced so far?

The first real surprise was the proposal from them because at that time we didn’t expect Jérôme Lambert would move sideways to take care of Montblanc! Now, my biggest challenge is to continue to push the brand, to develop it every day. You have to remember Jaeger-LeCoultre was here before me and will be here after me. Ultimately it’s not about me but rather it’s about a team of people.

My first decision was to take smaller decisions, to continue to understand the brand, to push the novelties, and always connect to the products because in my previous life another company was in charge of departments.

We have great creativity here. We have an ambitious professional team committed to authenticity—and I’m really happy to work with them.

What approach or strategy do you bring to this business?

New communication, new campaigns and many other things—that’s what I’m trying to do now—change the way Jaeger-LeCoultre is seen from the outside looking in. For example, you have to look at the new advertising campaigns. In the past we only focused on movements while, at the same time, tried to develop the feelings of our customers—that Jaeger-LeCoultre stood at the top of mechanical talent and caliber. Yes, that’s all true, but now I think that we don’t have to focus on technical details alone but more on aspiration. Two years ago we created ‘Hybris Artistica’, a reinterpretation of our mechanical expertise but with a more artistic approach. The product is the base for sure but we’ve now highlighted more aspiration.

Context is so important. Please give us a little background, some insights into the Jaeger-LeCoultre story and what’s happening now?

Very quickly: we continue to develop even if it’s a bit late. For instance, we increased production by double digits for the last four years—that was a real challenge. At the same time we continued developing the brands with single digits, and that’s quite enough. We don’t want to spread all the products worldwide so we’re now focusing on more consistency in terms of content of our lines, which we will show during the 85th anniversary with our ‘Reverso’ line next year with memorable products and some great novelties. We’ll also introduce new lines this year at Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Exclusivity and personalization is so important. How interested are Kuwaiti collectors in the choice of watches?

We have, in this country, not only collectors but also great interest from our customers for something more exclusive and special. That’s not a test for me but I do feel that the future for Jaeger-LeCoultre will be about more exclusivity and personalization. This market is really asking for that. It’s not the next trend but rather something more.

Trends and tradition are woven together in luxury lifestyle choices. What’s new from Jaeger-LeCoultre?

Astronomy: we have pay tribute to it at Jaeger-LeCoultre! When human beings started thinking about time, looking at the stars and the moon—that was the beginning of how to record, to carve the movement of time itself on stone or wood, to something that you can now wear on your wrist. We’ve developed so many calibers such as the moon calendar and the face moon calendar. Today’s generation pay tribute to this. Now we’re able to produce and market the world’s most accurate face moon ever made.

We have the ‘Rendez-Vous’ moon, too. Once again it pays tribute to the moon face, which is something really important for ladies. At the same time we have something for men that come from the sky—the Duometre dial on the Perpetuel Calendar—this one is really a new destination in terms of the highest levels of accuracy and finish.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre’s man and woman: what do you design for each of them?

Next year we celebrate our 85th anniversary with the ‘Reverso’ line. Yes, there are some ladies sizes but technically speaking this is a man’s watch. Almost three years ago we developed a new line called ‘Rendez-Vous’. It was something new for us and developed especially for women. That’s the first time we developed something for women with a new movement first, then came the men.

In terms of Jaeger-LeCoultre for ladies in the marketplace, it was 20 percent with ‘Reverso’ women’s sizes in the past. Today we have another 22 percent of clientele with the ‘Rendez-Vous’ line. Now we have a total 44 percent of our sales coming from women.

Tell us about the ratio of quartz movements to mechanical at Jaeger-LeCoultre?

We’re 98 percent mechanical and 2 percent quartz movement. In fact there’s only one watch still with quartz movements: it’s the smallest ‘Reverso’ watch with one face.

Jaeger-LeCoultre has an online boutique. Are you focused on selling more through it?

Not a real focus but just a market trend. We started three years ago with e-commerce in the USA. Now we’ve developed e-commerce in Europe but it’s not that successful. We don’t want to push it so far. We prefer to have direct contact with our customers, face-to-face. Nevertheless, we do understand that some customers don’t have time to go shopping or go to boutiques.

What’s your own favorite watch at Jaeger-LeCoultre?

It’s ‘Duometre Spherotourbillon’. It’s one watch that we introduced two years ago, and we will introduce into the market next year. Price-wise it costs about one million dollars—that’s the most complicated watch we’ve ever produced.

Looking into your crystal ball, are smartwatches from Jaeger-LeCoultre in your future?

We have no expertise in electronics. I don’t think so. We have no partnerships with Microsoft or Apple to make them. We prefer to wait and watch the market. I think it still needs time. There’s room for everyone. In the end, our DNA at Jaeger-LeCoultre is to continue to focus on mechanical watches.

Luxury. What does it mean to you?

It’s time and space—if you have a great space and the time to enjoy it.