Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO of Omega, one of the leading brands of high watchmaking, answered questions about the 2022 Omega watches introduced recently in the group interview that we also participated in. The most prominent model of the interview was the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, as was the collection in which the increase in colorful, natural stones and women’s watches was seen.
Looking at Omega’s own history, what are your thoughts on the importance of these new models?
It’s a pretty pertinent question. Our new series, Speedmaster’ 57, has been a very popular and successful series since it was introduced on Monday. Because with this series, people were able to capture a vintage feel that really connects with history. As you all know, our connection with our past is really important to us. I can explain this around two main reasons. It is one of the biggest mistakes that luxury brands like us can make to ignore what happened in the past. What we want to say here is not that we should repeat what we have produced in the past years, but that we are inspired by it and modernize it and produce new models. When we look at our own history, all the cult models we see inspire us to progress and increase our creativity while creating new models.
At this point, I am extremely proud to share the Ocean Ultra Deep series with you today, because in my opinion, this is the perfect Omega watch, not even a Seamaster. Because we have included our icons and the most advanced technologies in the Ultra Deep series. It also carries the iconic Seamaster features in its design. I think the design of the watch is quite important, but Ultra Deep is not just a concept watch. Sometimes you see impressive watches with a very magnificent design, but their technical features are not as magnificent as they seem. When we look at the history of Omega, we see that we have produced very clear and neat watches, both in terms of design and technique. The Ultra Deep series is also a watch that includes many technological innovations, but it is also very connected to the past of Omega. Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep is a milestone series, which I am very proud of. I also want to add: There are also innovations in the use of waterproof technology and materials up to 6,000 meters per hour. Ultimately, when you see the watch on your wrist, you feel like you’re wearing a Seamaster.
The latest watches are quite rich in terms of color use. What is the role of colors in Omega?
The role of colors has always been a hot topic in both the watch industry and Omega. In fact, I remember very well, almost 20 years ago, we produced an orange bezel on one of the first Planet Ocean watches. So much so that the industry and brands such as Omega have been involved in this for a while. We can also consider watch manufacturers as people who make luxury accessories. On the other hand, when we look at the production phase of the watch, for example, the formation of enamel is a feminine, sensitive and colorful part. In fact, it made us think about how we can use colors in our products while making designs at this stage. For example, when we produced the Speedmaster Schumacher 25 years ago, we produced it with red, yellow and blue dials. Today, we have increased the use of color even more, and we do not do this with rubies or sapphires alone.
We make color a part of the material we use. In addition to all these, it is possible to say that there is an increase in the use of color today. However, the important thing is to find the right color and material for the watch. What we do in our colorful, mother-of-pearl dial watches in the Constellation or De Ville series is not only to design colorful pieces, we also produce luxury watches. I can give an example of the Constellation 28 series; A lot of colors are used in this series. On the other hand, the fact that it is so colorful does not mean that it stands in a feminine place. As you can see from watches, they are very interesting for everyone, regardless of gender.
The Seamaster, Speedmaster and Constellation watches are Omega’s classics. What do you think is the connection of the new models of these series with their ancestors in the previous series?
Omega is a luxury watch brand, not a fashion brand. Although we are a pioneer in innovation, this does not mean that we can be in a constant state of change. In many ways, we need to be long-lived. What I want to say is this: There are people who show their father’s Speedmaster watches, and these watches look more like modern watches rather than vintage pieces. This means that an Omega watch produced sixty years ago still looks like a modern watch today. Seamaster, Speedmaster and Constellation watches have a DNA. We modernize the watches in this series without touching their DNA and essence. In my opinion, this is the main factor behind Omega’s success. I can give an example of the James Bond watch that Daniel Craig wore in the movie “No Time to Die”. That model was already a cult James Bond watch. We cleanly modernized and reproduced it based on the film’s producer and Craig’s comments.
Coming back to the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, this is a waterproof watch up to 6,000 meters. This is awesome and technically challenging. What are you thinking?
As I said at the beginning of the interview, Ocean Ultra Deep is one of our iconic models. Not only is it a wonderful watch with its design, the latest technology has been used in its mechanism as well. So it’s a true Omega watch in every way. I have always been of the opinion that the perfect combination of both technique and design is the best we can offer our customers. That’s why 10 companies worked together to produce this record-breaking watch during the production phase. When we look at the meticulousness of the watch during its development, I can say that it completely reflects the spirit of Omega. I am both insistent and proud of using technology at such a high level in a watch. Because if you cannot integrate technology into watches at this level, you cannot be one of the leading brands in the watch industry. Ultimately, reaching 6,000 meters of water resistance was not an easy task, but we worked hard to achieve it nonetheless. This is an indication of how dedicated we are to this work. From now on, we will always work to take it to the next level, just as we always do. I call it “the way of omega”.
The State of Industry report was announced recently. What are your thoughts on the report?
Asking and thinking about these analyzes has always intrigued me, because all these data are based on many predictions. Some brands include their jewelery in their product ranges in this data, some brands include other pieces from their product ranges. In other words, an analysis emerges where a lot of data comes together. From our point of view, when we look at this year’s data (2021 sales), I can say that we broke the sales record so far. At this point, the important thing for me is not only to see what our competitors are doing, but also to see what we have done in the previous years and be inspired by it and set our goals for the coming years.
On the one hand, there is the world of metaverse and NFT, which attracts attention from all sectors. What is your opinion about this area?
I’m not saying we’ll never get involved, but I think the important thing here is who you are and what you have to offer in this virtual world. As I said, it is not an area that I say we would never be in, but the realities that we are in as the watch industry must also be taken into account. Perhaps more fashion-based luxury items can be more easily integrated into this universe because they are more ubiquitous.
Also, we wonder how online sales are affecting sales at Omega boutiques due to the rise of e-commerce.
At this point, the important thing for us is to ensure that our customers can experience the watches in the online environment as close to reality. That’s why we’re available in only 12 markets online. In some markets we do not have distributors or have a supplement. For example, in the USA, online sales are not a preferred method, customers who want to buy by touching and seeing are more concentrated. Have we ever closed any of our boutiques with the increase in e-commerce? No way. We even opened a new store in San Francisco just before Christmas. We think that online selling as a really new method now exists, but it is not something that can spread to every region’s market. That’s why we need to find a good balance.
You have many customers waiting in line to buy Omega watches. As a brand, what are you planning to do to shorten this waiting period?
We produced a Speedmaster series last year and they were all delivered, it was a really high demand series. As for our new series Ultra Deep, it will not be like a limited series of 10 pieces, our aim is to deliver these watches to all our boutiques and customers around the world. I think there is an interesting point here; All production stages of a watch are carried out in Switzerland. So much so that everything is made in Switzerland and sent from there to different parts of the world. And indeed, there are many people all over the world waiting for Omega watches. Here, too, our mission is to deliver watches to anyone who waits with the feeling of owning an Omega watch.
What do you think about the bond Omega establishes with people?
All stakeholders of our company; We always attach great importance to meeting with our employees, managers, retailers and representatives. This is again one of the features in Omega’s DNA. Each of our representatives directly represents Omega. Since we are a customer-oriented brand, we pay attention to the fact that each of our representatives has the same values as us. Being a brand doesn’t mean having cool names on expensive advertising posters in places like Milan or Dubai, but your door should be open to people. You have to meet people and have a dialogue. In a way, I even think that we are the pioneers of today’s “influencers”; Think of James Bond. This is how we got together with people when posters, movie screenings and invitations were the way to reach someone.
Some said that the watch industry could not return to the way it was before the epidemic. What do you think about this?
In fact, I think that the issue of not being able to go back to the old self is a matter that concerns all humanity. All of us, including me, thought that the world was in a very, very bad state after the epidemic. We still have to wear masks, for example, the danger somehow persists. Even now, our body reacts to shaking hands in a way, we feel awkward. This is a negative trace that remains in us of trying to protect ourselves. On the one hand, we have been away from our family and loved ones during this process. This also showed how emotional beings we humans are. That’s why we were able to create beautiful stories even in this process. In this period, we also produced beautiful models that really appeal to the senses. And we will continue to create pieces that show the excitement and love we need. By directing all these negativities to create such beautiful pieces and stories, we have captured the positive side.