Interview with Jaquet Droz President Manuel Emch
by Kyle Stults on July 13, 2009
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A nice post to start off the week – a late-breaking interview in Perpetuelle.com’s “Post-Baselworld Interview Series” – and this one with none other than Mr. Manuel Emch himself.  For those of you not familiar with the name, Manuel Emch is President of the highly prestigious, ultra-luxurious watchmaker Montres Jaquet Droz SA.  I am pleased to share this interview with you below in which Mr. Emch shares his insights into Baselworld 2009, online media, and much more.

Montres Jaquet Droz at Baselworld 2009

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Mr. Manuel Emch

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Perpetuelle: How was BASELWORLD 2009 different for Jaquet Droz compared to prior years?

Mr. Emch:  It was different due to the change of schedule between the SIHH (from January, 20th to January, 25th 2009) and Baselworld (from March, 25th to April, 2nd 2009), but also due to the challenging economical environment. However, in terms of presence and orders, Baselworld 2009 was better than expected and at comparable level with 2008. We presented over 50 novelties and among them an entirely new horological instrument: the automaton La Machine à Ecrire le Temps, the first automaton of modern times.

La Machine à Ecrire le Temps

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In the current economic situation, customers tend to be more selective and are searching for sustainable values. Jaquet Droz, as an exclusive brand combining classical values and innovative technologies, represents a safe hedge in this context.

Perpetuelle: Please tell us about the philosophy behind the new 2009 releases from Jaquet Droz.

Mr. Emch:  My direct environment is a great source of inspiration as it fuels me with a constant flow of various perceptions – sounds, images, colours,… – leading to fresh ideas and innovative projects.

For the new Jaquet Droz collection, launched at Baselworld 2009, each theme was inspired by music. We worked around 4 communication axes :

  1. Women’s collection
  2. Access to the Jaquet Droz universe
  3. Men’s collection
  4. Technical exception and excellency with La Machine à Ecrire le Temps

During the creation process, I always try to think “outside the box” and to focus on emotion rather than only on technical aspects. I want to challenge every precept, and I encourage my team to do the same, as I believe it is a fundamental element of creativity.

Perpetuelle: Would you please kindly highlight a couple of your favorite new models for us?

Mr. Emch:  On the occasion of Baselworld 2009, we unveiled numerous novelties but I have a preference for Les Douze Villes as this model is destined for those whose lives are characterised by the crossing of different time zones. Twelve cities, like so many possibilities for different modes of existence, lifestyles and desires… Twelve destinations, each with their own history, secrets, memories and encounters… For this timepiece, Jaquet Droz has chosen a black Grand Feu enamelled dial with its unique grain to harbour 12 destinations around the world.

Jaquet Droz Les Douze Villes

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I also have a fondness for a more trendy watch: Réserve de Marche Céramique Technicolor. Five colours for a rainbow of possibilities…, An encounter between different genres this model, contemporary in spirit, possesses all of the iconic beauty of the Grande Seconde and is made of scratch-proof, resistant ceramic, whose colour and radiance will never fade.

Jaquet Droz Réserve de Marche Céramique Technicolor

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Perpetuelle: What are the core strengths (and/or defining elements) of Jaquet Droz?

Mr. Emch:  Jaquet Droz is a blend of history, craftsmanship, technical know-how and design, wrapped up in exclusivity and intimacy and its core value includes all these aspects as each one contributes to translate a rich heritage into successful contemporary timepieces. “Grand feu” enamelling is one of the expert techniques that constitute the signature of a Jaquet Droz watch. Master dial-makers perform this operation entirely by hand, playing with fine powders and subjecting them to fire. They alone know the formula to produce these dials, whose colour and texture are absolutely unique.

Perpetuelle: What are you wearing now?

Mr. Emch:  I wear since 2001 the first Grande Seconde Email, which is for me the most valuable watch as it is the first model of the new design philosophy I created based on an original Jaquet Droz pocket watch of the 18th Century. This timepiece is at the very core of the brand’s identity.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Email

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Perpetuelle: Are there any areas that Jaquet Droz will be focusing on for 2010 and/or beyond (for example, a focus on certain types of watches / complications / movements)?

Mr. Emch:  During Baselworld 2010, Jaquet Droz will –as usual- unveil numerous novelties. But our main novelty will be our new base movement which we should present by the end of next year. We also started building our new Manufacture in la Chaux-de-Fonds, which will be inaugurated Fall 2010.

Perpetuelle: Please tell us about the distribution strategy and geographical availability of Jaquet Droz timepieces.

Mr. Emch:  Jaquet Droz has 6 own flagship stores: Genève, Courchevel, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Macao, and since December 2008 Moscow. We will open soon a new own Boutique in Hanoi (Vietnam). Moreover, Jaquet Droz is represented in a selective distribution network of 200 of the best watch retailers in 50 markets.

Perpetuelle: Can you tell us which, if any, geographies you believe will play in important role in the future growth of Jaquet Droz?

Mr. Emch:  Jaquet Droz plans to extend its retail strategy to Asia (opening of a new flagship store in Hanoi) on one side and on the other to further develop its activity in the region of Russia and the USA as there is still room for growth.

Perpetuelle: What role do you see for online media (such as Perpetuelle.com) and Jaquet Droz? How do you see this role changing/evolving in the future?

Mr. Emch:  Online media represents a great opportunity for Jaquet Droz to develop its presence worldwide. More and more, it will raise its importance and influence. The interactive forums will help us being closer to our clients or potential customers.

Perpetuelle: Thank you Mr. Emch for sharing your time and insights with Perpetuelle.com’s audience of luxury watch owners, collectors & enthusiasts.  We wish you and everyone at Montres Jaquet Droz  all the best in 2009 and beyond.