As part of our top 10 watches in the world coverage, here is our interview with Philippe Merk, the Chief Executive Officer of Audemars Piguet
What is Audemars Piguet's big picture today, facing a new economy?
Today we have a very positive reality. We are a global brand present as much in the traditional markets as in the emerging ones. We have a diverse product portfolio that addresses different tastes. We are a brand that defines its past and future with new calibres, movements, and materials. So we are a brand in constant revolution. We are aware that the current economy is challenging, but we also know that our industry has always been very resilient to the crisis, and has bounced back in a strong way, so this is also the case of Audemars Piguet.
Who are the Audemars Piguet customers?
Today, our customers are from around the world and all walks of life. Generally we have three groups: the collectors, who are crazy about watches and their mechanisms; the luxury consumers, who express their appreciation of quality and make up a big percentage of our clientele; and new customers, who are getting to know Audemars Piguet as they start to purchase luxury watches.
What is your emerging market and how do you approach it?
China is our up-and-coming market today. The Chinese are travelling a lot. We are creating a dialogue with them not just in China but also outside the country, such as in the US and Europe. We have a very knowledgeable and passionate staff in stores. They can tell customers what is so special about an Audemars Piguet watch, how it's made and what goes into the creation. This sets us apart from the mass market. Of course we also reach out to Chinese consumers through events like post-SIHH presentations, publications and the internet, because we feel that the customer has to feel interested before being able to make purchases. India and Brasil are also emerging, and our most established markets are the UK, France, Europe in general.
How do you see Audemars Piguet's near future?
We will continue to focus on our brand values, as we celebrate the 40th birthday of the Royal Oak collection in 2012. Along with this important line, we will also further develop the Millenary collection. We will continue to achieve exceptional haute horlogerie by combining the traditional arts with modern techniques, constantly improving our watches to provide our customers with an even better, more fulfilling experience with Audemars Piguet.