The year Raynald Aeschlimann started his journey with Omega is a special year which also witnessed the launch of the first edition of Aviamost Russian magazine; 1996, a great year to remember! More than 20 years later Raynald, with his legendary passion and great vision of this company, has risen through the ranks of Omega to become its President and Chief Executive Officer. He has also given us the undeniable pleasure of sharing his insights into the future during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2017, in his own words hereafter.
Omega has a rich and prestigious history tightly connected with various kinds of sports, as if sport is part of the brand’s DNA. What is the reason behind that?
The big story about Omega is exactly this! The whole history in time, the whole evolution of the brand and definitely, as you said, the DNA of the brand is sport. It is also incredibly linked with the pioneering experience of our brand and the fact that Omega has always been in sport.
Omega’s reputation for accuracy led the International Olympic Committee to appoint Omega as the official timekeeper of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. This was the first time in Olympic history that one brand had been given the responsibility to time all events. The challenge was to create everything that makes the sport so different. They were at the pioneering experience because they understood that it’s lot of investments to get that, but it was tightly linked with the brand itself.
We are not sponsoring any sport or any official Olympic Games because sport is part of the brand and you got exactly the right thing by saying that it is a great part of our DNA. We are not sponsoring sports, we do not just like sports; we are sport!
We now are at the heart of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2017. Why has Omega chosen Golf?
In all aspects of life you need to choose the right ways of communicating who you are and where you want to go. During the Olympic Games we talk about everything, but here during the rest of the year we cannot be everywhere because we like to do the things in a coherent and a consistent way. We chose very long time ago athletics, swimming and almost 20 years ago we gave our preferences to golf. Golf is the sport where we want to concentrate, to be the leaders in and to do the whole concept. We have the golf players, the golf tournaments. First of all golf is very popular around the world, it’s about your own values. There is no hate or battle or things like that; it’s very intelligent discipline, for all ages, for ladies and men. This is the kind of sport which unifies everybody. And this exactly reflects our feelings!
The pioneering spirit of the company and the huge legacy also mean a huge responsibility. How do you maintain the heritage and history of your company with the new technologies and innovations? For example, recently applied antimagnetic technology and master chronometer…
This is a big part about sharing our DNA and who we are; which sport, which communications, our marketing package (if you want). Of course, part of this takes us back to 1932 which was also a pioneering experience in terms of technology.
Obviously, we want to sell the product. The whole image is amazing because we have the final product. If we talk about all that, we should not forget that you have to have a product that is totally in line with who you are.
We are an industrial company, we are also a very luxurious company, and we are not a company creating a thousand watches in a year. We are the company that works on an industrial basis and we lead in the segment of watches between USD 5,000 to 10,000.
Omega was created in the 19th century as the only brand name, then and still today, that comes from the movements. That is why on the product level, we have to come up always with new technologies and antimagnetic is exactly what we have. Or take for example the ceramics we use in the new Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black. We always want to suggest to our consumers something special because luxury shopping is not only about having emotions but also having a feeling that you got a right product and this what we have in our DNA – bring the best to our consumers.
You spent the majority of your career with Omega and in June 2016 you took over as President of Omega. Congratulations! What is your biggest challenge with this recent change?
First of all the biggest challenge is to continue what we have done very well. Omega is the special brand in the Holding, if you see who we are, how people treat us. I see more and more people are wearing the Omega watch, and they feel very good having this watch because it has a lot of symbolic with high technology, presenting values and bringing you a lot of pride. There is not going to be any revolution. We are in the situation where we should evolve in a right way. My biggest challenge is probably to continue with a chance of leading the Holding to create more success with the respect of the brand. The brand lives through the centuries and it will be forever unfortunately we will not. That is why it is very important to do what is important for the brand and Omega is a magical brand!
Indeed, it’s magical because one of the strength of Omega is Universal presence. How do you explain it?
There are three reasons! First, we have a tremendous history. Once again, Omega is an inspirational brand. We always have been represented in the best way. People still look up to us. Secondly, we also have invested since long in a best distribution with the best people but I want to tell you in Russia, in India, even in Indonesia, we are investing in having our own company, our own subsidiary distributing watches or the best partner, like with Rivoli in Dubai. It’s kind of making us very strong, the universality is very important. Third point is the collection of watches. If you think about Seamaster, the famous James Bond’s watch, everybody in the world has James Bond’s aspiration. Constellation is also very well known. This whole collection everybody likes. Our target is to be everywhere and still get the respect that what we have.
What do you think about the competition?
Competition is always good because it drives you to be better and we are so successful by being who we are, though I never really consider the competition as the most important part of my strategy on the way around. The most important is to do the right things with the respect to time and to go your own way and have your values rather than just look at the competitors.
How do you adapt to the current situation of the market?
One of the biggest issues we have is the currency exchange because this is what in luxury we need to face every day. When the rubble is moving so much, it is difficult for us to keep the balance between tourism and the customers of the country because we want to be strong in Russia. We adapt the prices every day for Russian consumers. It is a question of follow-up, it is a question of being attentive and it is a question of not making huge moves. Therefore, we always put in high priority local consumers that have to be able to buy watches just to the price they can afford.
How significant the Russian and Chinese markets are to you and how do you describe current situation relatively to those big markets?
China is the biggest watch market in the world and this is the market number one no doubt. It’s a very key market. Last year we invested a lot in the distribution and marketing activities of this market. Chinese are very loyal to our brand which is very good. Therefore, we are much looking forward to another successful year as last year.
Russia is a huge market too. We have just opened a new boutique in Moscow, the third one there. This is a sign that we very much trust the evolution of this country.
Definitely these two markets are the key markets for us in terms of consumers and also in terms of tourists because Russian and Chinese people love to travel and to spend the money to celebrate. And I think in this world we need to take good care of people celebrating.