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Vacheron Constantin CEO Louis Ferla Talks About American Growth

Louis Ferla, Vacheron Constantin CEO

Louis Ferla, Vacheron Constantin CEO

In his five-year tenure as CEO of Vacheron Constantin, Louis Ferla has propelled the brand forward in a host of ways that are gaining the company more visibility – and loyal followers — than ever. This higher profile, especially in the US market,  is the result of actions that include new, updated boutiques in America, new product offerings that include in-house refurbished vintage pieces, a more lively marketing and ambassador alignment campaign, and more. Recently, I had the rare opportunity to talk one-on-one with Ferla about the exciting growth of the brand and the challenges ahead.

Louis Ferla on boutiques and e-Commerce in America

Louis Ferla: “To remain genuinely accessible and still fulfill the expectations of our clients. The other challenge is to continue to transform the Maison while remaining relevant, not radical.  It is an evolution. In America, we just launched eCommerce and opened up a boutique in Chicago and Houston, on top of the new flagship store here in New York, so we are  developing the market at our pace. It is about doing it right with the right service, training, people and product. What we do is based on life encounters and we must be the best at our encounters.”

Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin New York Flagship store and its Celebrations exhibit revolving around Pop-Art

On targeting a younger audience

LF: “We are very passionate about what we do. This is a human adventure. Our watchmakers and artisans are full of passions and our customers are, too. They do the research when they are looking to buy a brand like Vacheron Constantin, They explore our world, and they have a level of engagement and repurchase that is very high. So, for us, it is not about capturing a younger clientele; it is about being relevant and making sense in everything we do.  If that attracts a younger audience that is educating themselves and interested in quality, that is great, but for the most part, the average age of our customers remains consistent.”

On Les Cabinotiers and Les Collectionneurs

LF: “We are known for our Les Cabinotiers collection of unique pieces. We make very few of them and when clients come to the manufacture, they are surprised by our super modern manufacture designed by a well-known architect, and how advanced we are for being so old. It is not what they expect. They are wowed even more by that, and they usually want to special order a watch. But they have to wait two, three or even five years. So, instead of asking that, we began creating one  collection a year where we produce a few watches that they don’t need to wait for. That is the Les Collectionneurs series. Those vintage watches are out there, and we are finding ways to reshape them and give them another dimension, as well as tell a part of our history. It is history that  defines our past, our present and what we will do in the future. So, by buying, restoring and selling these vintage pieces, we are finding an authentic and relevant way to reach collectors.”

“It also shows our ability in the art of restoration. This is also important because it shows that we will always be capable of restoring a watch made by Vacheron Constantin. To this day, we can repair every watch we have produced since the beginning. Sometimes we don’t have the spare parts, but we will reproduce them.  When you buy a Vacheron Constantin, you know that in 50, 60 or 70 years it can be repaired and restored back to perfect condition. We have the know-how and capability of doing that.”

On production

LF: “We were almost not impacted by Covid. Our volume of production was stable. Certainly, some of our suppliers were impacted. Every single part is 100 percent made in Switzerland and when you think about the hundreds of tiny parts in every watch – some supplied by local Swiss makers who were forced to close — then sometimes things come to a stop until we can get the parts we need. So yes, there was a bottleneck of production, but  we will not compromise on quality, so we produce at our own pace, which is below the demand of the market.”

(Portions of this article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.)

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