Montblanc is a watch brand that caters for different types of client by virtue of its wide range of watch products. We asked Barbara Falcomer, CEO of Montblanc Italy, whether the different areas of watch production are understood by customers in this geographical area.
"Yes, the common denominator is provided by the Montblanc trademark. Minerva (now part of Montblanc, at Villeret) is a manufacture producing hand-crafted, high quality timepieces at astoundingly high levels of excellence. At Le Locle, volumes are higher, but in any case the watches made there have in-house movements. This corresponds to a different sector of the market, not just for connoisseurs, but also for people who appreciate design and the technical content of watches, at a more accessible price when compared to the Villeret watches." (In the photo below, the TimeWalker TwinFly Chronograph).
In a way, the Nicolas Rieussec watches represent an area midway between Star and TimeWalker and the Villeret watches. But are they made in La Locle, or at Villeret?
"They are manufactured in Le Locle, with development by Minerva at Villeret. It is a project that began many years ago. Every year, the Rieussec has a new feature, a new complication, and Montblanc dedicates great energy and investment to it. We like to be able to produce watches with our own movements that are constantly developed in accordance with the market. We like clients to be faithful to our brand; they are like travelling companions for us. In other words, they may start with a Le Locle watch, which may cost about 2,500 or 3,000 euro, and later on perhaps they can approach a Villeret piece. The Star and TimeWalker collections are achieving great success at this particular moment in time, because they are more accessible, with a greater distribution. Villeret models are sold in just two boutiques in Italy." (Below, the Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours chronograph, one of the new products for 2013).
In the photo below, the beautiful Villeret ExoTourbillon in red gold:
As regards boutiques, what is the situation for the Italian retail network?
"Our boutiques in Italy include 12 own-brand stores, from the north to Naples. These have the complete range, and express the brand to an optimum level. In addition, we have partnerships with jewelleries in which we can construct our own display area, with a shop in shop or a similar structure. These are our two major channels. For years, we have concentrated on the shopping experience, which is not just about buying a product. It is about placing the customer at the centre, and telling him or her a story, the brand's world. In our boutiques we try to create special moments, for example with a watchmaker present, or a cultural or artistic event."
Montblanc has been working with art for many years. The stand at SIHH 2013 featured works of art made by young artists as part of a competition for interpretations of the Montblanc star. The originals remain in Montblanc, while copies are used to decorate boutiques all over the world, while also promoting the young artists. (Below, a work by Stephen Craig).
"In this way, the boutique becomes a moment of conversation, for the transmission of ideas and culture. It helps clients feel at home, because it shows that the brand is not just about business, but shared ideas as well. There are many projects for creating opportunities for interaction and the transmission of ideas. Other brands invest in culture as a form of communication: we are different."
Montblanc is different in many ways, from its origins in the field of writing instruments, and for that logo, the star, whose graphic simplicity and power are unrivalled. "The star logo helps us a lot, it expresses our coherence and continuity in managing the brand. The star talks! It even became a diamond, in 2006, to celebrate our centenary. We created a new diamond cut named the Montblanc, in a star shape that mirrors the logo."
This is marketing of course, very good marketing, and it fits in well with a brand that exudes a constantly positive message of perfect coordination amongst its various product areas. All in all, a tale of glittering, multi-faceted success.