Versace Will be in the SmartWatches Market in the Near Future

The Luxonomist seats down with Mr Paolo Marai, President & CEO Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division

Paolo Marai+Versace
Mr. Paolo Marai, President & CEO Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division

The Luxonomist: As Versace celebrates 25 years since the launch of its watch collection, how would you define Versace watches? What are the elements that make them different from those of other brands?
Paolo Marai: Keeping the Maison DNA and redefining it into the watches is the way to make them different from all others and strictly identified as Versace watches. So elements such as the Medusa or the Greek key are traits that together with strong design make our watches different.

TL: Wearing a Versace watch is a synonym of/means…..
PM: Self-confidence in being different…

TL: What is the process of designing a watch –from the original idea or sketch until it reaches the sales market?
PM: It is a long and complicated, yet interesting process where my team has to work closely with Donatella and her team in order to convey her inspirations into the finished product; meetings run almost every week for about four months before we can say the watch is ready to be launched.

TL: Which style or model is your best seller?
PM:So far Vanitas has been our best seller in 2014 but for 2015 we do expect Dylos and DV 25 to be the new leaders in our sales.

Versace watch
Versace Vanitas Blue. Click to buy

TL: Where are Versace watches manufactured? How many units do you sell per year?
PM: All Versace watches are strictly manufactured according to Swiss made rules, combining Italian design with Swiss quality of mechanism and assembly. We sell over 100,000 pieces with a constant double-digit growth.

TL: What is the average price of a Versace watch? Is betting on Premium Deluxe a safe bet for the future?
PM: Our average retail price is US $ 1,900 and we have seen significant increase as of the last 12 months.

TL: How does the “traditional luxury watch industry” face the arrival of the “luxury digital watches”?
PM: Difficult to say since as of today we have not yet seen a digital product that can really compete in this arena but for sure this is something we need to monitor constantly.

TL: How does the Timex Group Luxury Swiss Division plan to compete in the technology (smart) watch?
PM: As part of Timex Group we have access to a lot of these new technologies and we will certainly participate in this new segment but as of today technology is not yet available to offer the consumer real innovative products.

Versace Purple Vanity 2
Versace Purple Vanity. Click to buy

TL: In the case of Versace specifically, have you thought of designing and selling a “Versace gadget” (smarth watch)?
PM: Smart watches will likely be a new segment in the future and for sure very pertaining to the fashion segment; so, yes, we will participate with Versace as soon as technology will allow us to do so in a luxury way.

TL: How do you think the introduction of watches like the “iWatch” affect the sales of “traditional” watches?
PM: Not sure what the evolution will be, but based on the product as it is today I do not see any risk for the watch industry. But we must keep our eyes open as technology changes fast.

TL: Do you think that, as it has been stated by many of your industry colleagues, we are facing a revolution in the watch industry?
PM: Certainly not today but it might be the case in a couple of years though traditional analogue watches will always have an interest in the market

TL: How is the company celebrating the 25th anniversary of its introduction? Are you coming out with commemorative models/collections? What type of watches?
PM: We have a wide program to celebrate our 25th anniversary including, but not limited to, the creation of the DV 25 a unique collection inspired by the past but targeted to the future. This collection was initially presented at Baselworld (the watch and jewelry show) but now we are taking it, and organizing events, around the world to make these products available to end consumers.

Versace Vanitas Black
Versace Vanitas Black. Click to buy

TL: Within the Timex Group in general, how does your division, Timex Group Luxury Swiss Division, rank in terms of units sold? How important is it to the Group?
PM: It would not be meaningful to talk about units since, as you can understand, there is a huge difference in selling watches valued at thousands dollars versus those priced at hundreds dollars. In terms of value we do represent the edge of the imaginary and we play a relevant role within our group.

TL: Total sales in 2014 and 2013 –and forecast for 2015.
PM: Since 2005 (with the exception of 2009) we are constantly showing a 20% growth year on year and this has been the case even last year, our record year. For 2015 we do expect to have another record year.

TL: In the evolution of the business and the new shopping behavior –luxury watches are now available to be purchased online. How is this segment doing for you?
PM: We are carefully looking at this new channel that is giving signals of improvement not only in terms of sales but also in terms of quality, something that we cannot underestimate when selling luxury products. Yes, there will be a future but things are not yet at the level they should be.

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