Jaeger-LeCoultre recently opened a new boutique on LA’s glamorous Rodeo Drive, and took the chance to release a new Polaris in the process. This continues a trend we’ve seen in recent years of luxury brands going the boutique route over multi-brand stores. Our own Oren Hartov was on hand to experience the boutique opening, and even got a few words in with JLC CEO, Catherine Renier in the process to better understand the thinking behind a boutique like this, what it means for the brand, and why they chose the Polaris to mark the event.
Read a transcript of Oren’s interview below, and don’t miss our coverage of the new Polaris right here.
The design of the store goes deep on JLC’s watchmaking prowess as well as customization options for straps and the Reverso. What was important for the brand to convey to its clientele — especially prospective clientele — via the store design?
We want the client to feel at home, to feel welcome. We want the watchmaking world of Jaeger-LeCoultre to be very open, and we want to share our knowledge, our know-how. We feel that part of our role is to share about watchmaking, so the door should be easy to open. As you walk in, you can learn first about the calibers, and understand the complexity of traditional watchmaking. Then, you can discover how a watch can be an object that will bring you personal style and definitely, emotion — something that will last with you forever.
You continue and go deeper about the wonders of the manufacture, and you have not only more about our past and history and heritage, but also about our enameling, our engraving, and our watchmakers. So it’s a little part of the manufacture that we bring here, not only in the experience, but also in the codes, the design. You’ll find the colors are very warm, very natural, and of course, it’s very Art Deco, from the Reverso facade to the inside. That’s really a tribute to our icon. So I hope that as we get visitors from all over the world that they understand a little bit more about watchmaking, a little bit more about Jaeger, and that they fall in love with our wonderful world and that they learn more and want to discover more.
A lot of what we’ve been working on for the past few years has been to bring the manufacture out to the public — through our boutiques, our exhibitions, such as the one in New York (in the fall of 2021) that we hosted about Sound Maker, and in these exhibitions we bring craftsmanship, we bring history, we bring education with our discovery workshops, we bring an artistic component, we bring of course innovation and a lot of storytelling from the manufacture directly to the public. So that has been our objective in a way: educate, share, tell more about watchmaking. And we feel the public is really enjoying it and is really eager to understand more.
Somehow, watchmaking is always a little secretive; it can feel very like a very “educated” industry in which you need to understand the technicality of watches — which it is — but also, you can just enjoy beautiful craftsmanship and simply learn more with Jaeger as to what watchmaking is about.
So through our exhibition, our boutiques — or, if you dare, going all the way to the Vallée de Joux, where we’ve totally reshuffled our visit to the manufacture — so you can really have a thematic visit based on your level of interest. You can take discovery workshops to dive into specific things, so there is a lot to learn with us. Now we have thematic visits about Atmos, about celestial complications…you can take a class a few hours long with experts from the manufacture and really go beyond just assembling a movement and understand the secrets behind specific elements of watchmaking.
You can assemble a Reverso case and understand more about Art Deco. So a little bit like how one can take wine classes to learn more about Bordeaux and Pinot Noir, you can do that with Jaeger-LeCoultre, educate yourself, educate yourself about this fantastic world and craftsmanship. And of course, being Jaeger and having invented so much, and being so integrated in our manufacturing and the way we make our movements, our cases, our development, we have all the knowledge and the crafts to be shared with anyone who has an interest in watchmaking, so that’s what we’ve been embarking on.
As we emerge from COVID-19 and continue in-person gatherings and get back to a sense of normalcy, has anything shifted appreciably in JLC’s greater strategy or focus?
We’ve seen quite positive trends coming out of COVID, for sure. There’s been a strong interest in our industry; people have read and learned and dived more into traditional watchmaking. We’ve seen a strong emphasis also on watchmaking icons — Reverso is one of the oldest watchmaking icons, from the beginning of the last century, and we’ve enjoyed a tremendous interest in this collection. We feel that our clients are more interested as well in the shaped watches and in colors — this is very strong, which has helped Reverso a lot, as well.
And as much as we could do digitally via Zoom and interaction over the camera, there’s nothing like in-person interaction, the quest for more exposure and experience and really enjoying again spending time to learn, which has been huge. It’s been very important for a maison like us, where we have such an iconic model and so much experience to offer. It’s a good time to open where we are, which was a bet, for sure. It’s an important project, and one that takes time, but it’s definitely where we belong, and we were ready.
The brand recently launched a new Polaris Date model in khaki green. While some watchmakers have multiple “tool watch” categories and product families, the Polaris is really JLC’s flagship sport watch. Can you speak to what it means to the maison?
The icon for the maison and the reference is really Reverso, no question. It’s a signature (of the brand) that is more than 90 years old. Then we’ve had in our collection very strong pillars such as our Master collection, which continues to inspire us. We recently introduced a Memovox in pink gold with a black lacquer dial, so a lot of inspiration in this more timeless design. Of course at Jaeger we do a lot for women, and another pillar of our collection is the Rendezvous, which has brought a lot of innovation this year with new complications.
And then the youngest in the collection is the Polaris, which was added in 2018. It’s inspired by a model from the 1960s, which is a model for diving. So the Polaris I would say caters to a sportier, more casual (buyer); that’s why the watch is bigger, that’s why it has these diving elements with the orange markers and 200m of water resistance. You also have this inner rotating bezel. And recently — I’d say since the introduction of the Mariner two years ago — we’ve been expanding the collection with these lacquer dials. So here (with the newest Memovox) you have this khaki green lacquer dial, while the latest QP we did has a blue lacquer dial with a gradient. The Mariner also has the lacquer dial. So this has been a really great success, very strong for the maison, and expanding.
We’re continuing with the Polaris; the chronograph is doing super well, and why this khaki green dial today? We wanted to celebrate such a milestone for the maison — the new boutique opening — with a special watch, because we can’t stop ourselves! This is what we do.
The post A New Boutique, Polaris, & More – Interview With Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Renier appeared first on Worn & Wound.