Accessories caught up with Paolo Marai, CEO of the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division, to discuss Versace and Versus watches and discuss the brands’ approaches to watches. Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division has had the license for both brands since 2004, and Madaluxe Group became the distributor in early 2017.
What type of retail distribution are you aiming for with the new distributor? Has there been a shift in how consumers purchase their watches?
As new evolving consumers approach the watch market, the way we distribute watches also needs to be adapted to attract a wider range of consumers. As North America’s leading distributor of luxury fashion, Madaluxe Group has the rich heritage and strong relationships we sought in a partner. We see an opportunity to bring our timepieces to a broader market, and especially to the aspirational millennial customer who’s seeking luxury quality and design across a range of different styles. Customers are shopping everywhere from brand boutiques to traditional retail stores to newer online destinations. We believe our partnership with Madaluxe Group will be very effective in this direction.
How closely do you work with the House of Versace to collaborate?
We have a very close cooperation with the House of Versace starting from our muse, Donatella, who works hard to make our watches as integrated as possible with the ready-to-wear collections, and featuring them on each runway.
What most differentiates the Versace and Versus collections from other watch lines?
As I was saying before, storytelling is becoming crucial and our brands have a rich history behind that allows us to perfectly work in this direction as few other brands can afford to.
Despite the appearance of an ever-increasing importance, online information is still the last influencing factor before purchase and is mostly used in store. Also the all-digital marketing world is changing fast and what was essential yesterday is losing ground today. You need to be at the right place at the right time to reach your target customers. So speed is the crucial word today. As for statistics, there is no specific information yet but millennials are well open to wear a watch when this represents something pertaining to their world.
There is so much focus on experiential retail today. How do you plan to work with retailers to create in-store experiences with your watches or in their watch departments in general?
I fully agree that retailers still represent the most influential tool we can use. Starting from their website, down to the physical shop, in-store events still represent one of the main selling tools as long as they are used in the correct way. We believe that to have a successful in-store event you have to start from a product, which needs to have a story behind it. Storytelling is the answer to your question.
As a watch is functional, it has design limitations. How can you push the boundaries of fashion without straying too far from its original function?
The watch industry has lived for hundred of years on functions, but today quality and timekeeping are no longer sufficient factors without a distinctive design and, once again, design together with storytelling, make up our unique selling proposition.