It is fair to say that the capital of the world as far as watchmaking is concerned is Switzerland. Approximately 30 million watches are produced in Switzerland each year, and the country has a stellar reputation for creating the finest timepieces in the world. People from all over the planet put up good money to purchase timepieces from Switzerland as a status symbol and a way of displaying their wealth and access to something that is not otherwise easy to get one's hands on. This was the perfect setting for an interview about the unique nature of Swiss timepieces and why they are so treasured.
This episode brings an insightful interview with Alain Delamuraz, CEO of Montres Jaquet Droz SA discussing the art of watchmaking. In this interview, Mr. Delamuraz explores the rich history of watchmaking, how he sees its future, its recruitment strategy, and the extra lengths the company goes to to make sure customers and employees are happy.
Delamuraz said that his company thinks of what they do as making art rather than a business. He believes that every company that operates in the watchmaking space thinks of its work first and foremost as an art form rather than merely a means of making money. In that same vein, he believes that the only way that the industry will survive and thrive is if it keeps its focus on the preservation of the art form that is watchmaking. After all, that is what the customer is paying for.
Montres Jaquet Droz SA does not use third-party companies to sell its products. a fact Mr. Delamuraz wanted to emphasize. They refuse to do so because this could tarnish the value and reputation of the timepieces that they make. The work of Montres Jaquet Droz SA has never been about mass producing a product that anyone can purchase in their local store. Instead, it is about creating unique timepieces that are extremely noteworthy and valuable to those who custom order them. Crafting something specific for each customer is how the company maintains its perch above the competition and its reputation.
An additional benefit of working like this is that it means that each watch is as unique as the customer. The customer interacts directly with the artists that are creating their watch for them. This allows the customer to give their input into the process and end up with the kind of results that they truly desire. That will always remain the top priority for a watchmaker like Montres Jaquet Droz SA.
Montres Jaquet Droz SA has a rich history that is as dazzling as it is lengthy. Dating back to 1738, this watchmaker has always sought out people at the top of the ladders of society to sell their watches to. Pitching these works of art to kings, emperors, and other figures of note, the company established itself as the place to turn to for watches that are truly one-of-a-kind.
One of the earliest customers in the 18th century was the King of Spain. The king was so impressed by what he saw that he purchased timepieces from this company. At the time, these were timepieces that would take months and months to meticulously craft. While it doesn't take quite as long to create an outstanding timepiece today, the same level of meticulous craftsmanship still goes into each piece produced today.
Among the most interesting topics of discussion during this interview is when Michael McKay turned the questions toward the topic of balancing recognizing the history of the company with planning for the future of what the company has to offer. He asked specifically how the company pulls off that balancing act.
Delamurez offered an analogy to explain what the company does to pull this off. He spoke about how longest limbs of a tree are only able to survive and thrive when they still maintain their roots. It is not possible for any part of the tree to grow if it doesn't rely back on its history (it's roots), and that is precisely what Delamurez believes his company does as well.
It is not uncommon for retail brands to fail. By some estimates, approximately 70% of all retail brands fail within five years of their launch. This begs the question, how does a unique watchmaker find success such a perilious field?
Delamurez says that the company knows that it can never rest. It must remain disruptive even though it has been around for hundreds of years. Yes, the company is proud of its long history, but it is not afraid to create a new path moving forward. The company has tried many different things to disrupt the industry and continues to do so. However, Delamurez admits that not all of them work. It is in the process of trial and error that the company ultimately finds its success. It is not afraid to go outside of its comfort zone to create something that the world has never seen before.
The top priority at Montres Jaquet Droz SA is to employ a workforce that is happy and thriving. They also care about hiring people from a younger age cohort. This is an excellent way for them to keep ideas fresh and interesting. Without people like that working on the team, the same tired ideas may get batted around again and again. Looking to the future is how this company keeps itself ahead of the competition. Working with younger people is a big part of this as it means that the most relevant ideas bubble to the surface.
Finally, probably the biggest marker of success for Montres Jaquet Droz SA comes from meeting customers where they are. Watchmakers all throughout the globe have suffered as many people rely on something like their phone to tell them the time. However, the focus on the watches that Montres Jaquet Droz SA makes is not for their utilitarian purpose. Instead, they are meant to reflect one's status and personality. They dedicate so much time to each piece to make it just perfect for the customer.
Their customers know that they are getting something that they have specifically asked for. They also understand that their request will be honored whenever possible. The company goes to great lengths to ensure that its customers and employees are happy. They will not sell out to the mass market. Instead, they rely on their prized history to inform how they make decisions moving forward. It is truly that simple, and yet this is what has propeled this company to success for hundreds of years.