Luxury brand Montblanc’s first-ever Swiss smartwatch will soon hit Indian shores and vie for an anticipated return to that coveted ‘wrist real estate’. Playing a contentious rival to the traditional watch industry is the consumer technology industry that has been diligently grabbing chunks of it, with a flood of smart watches launched in the last decade. However, for a Swiss watch brand that has been in the business of reviving the attention of buyers for more than a century, Montblanc is not afraid to place its bets on the smartwatch business. At the global launch event of Montblanc Summit smartwatch in London, we spoke with CEO Jérôme Lambert about the brand’s ambition to add the luxury quotient in a smartwatch.
Why does Montblanc need to add a smart watch to its portfolio?
Montblanc was born in 1906. Our brand has always had a passion for building a functional product that is also luxe. We, as a company in the luxury world, work towards making the experience of business more productive as well as enjoyable. It was our observation that not much had been done to club luxury and technology. You may be sitting in a special car such as a Bentley or Ferrari, yet your computer or phone won’t be extraordinary. We entered this field because we wanted to work towards bringing everyday technology on par with other areas of luxury. First, the smart strap and now the Montblanc Summit smartwatch.
What kind of consumer are you aiming at when you bring a luxury smartwatch priced at $900 US into the market, the tech enthusiast or a luxury watch buyer?
Why not both? For instance, I have a fine watch collection. Now when I am running or travelling, or riding a horse, I don’t want my nicer ’50s watch to be exposed to sweat or dirt. In such a scenario, I still do need a watch that I can use to measure distance, or keep track of different time zones. We created a beautiful solution to this dilemma. The Montblanc Summit watch comes in different straps for sporty or formal wear. The red strap will be a great option to wear in summers. Our other target clientele would be first-time watch buyers. There is always a time for the first quality watch and we have priced the Montblanc smartwatch well within a first time buyer’s budget. Our third clientele is the tech audience, a huge market in itself. We can already see a great echo for our product.
With a luxury smartwatch, which global markets will be your primary focus?
The US, India, Mexico and China are important markets for us when it comes to the Montblanc smartwatch. We have, in fact, designed a dedicated marketing campaign for India. An ambassador will be announced soon, and an exclusive dial for India will also be launched.
Did Tag Heuer and Apple smartwatch inspire you in anyway to produce your own smart watch?
Yes, and no. Earlier, we did not feel that the technology was ready for us to come out with such a watch. Now, however, it is different, and we are taking advantage of the new Android Wear version for our watch.
Would you be producing a lesser-priced watch to reach a wider audience in the future?
Never say never. The world is changing constantly and it is difficult to say what technology will be like in 10 years. Today we do not want to make any compromise with the intrinsic quality. I don’t want to bargain over the overall packaging as that is what Montblanc is valued for. What matters at the end of the day is a great product that reaches a wider audience.
How did your first association with the tech giant Samsung fare? Did the Montblanc smart strap, launched in association with Samsung, work? Would you be willing to have another similar association?
One needs a very high level of cooperation to partner with another company, especially one that specialises in another field. You could say that our association with Samsung was similar to that of Qualcomm’s with Google. It involved a great level of cooperation. The challenge with a tech giant is how agile or open they are to building not just a branding story, but also a great product. The smart strap with Samsung was a good start, a good first step. I don’t want to work with a company just for the branding bit, but ensure that the association results in the creation of a great product.
By Shilpa Dhamija Courtesy Hindu Business Line