Always on Time: Ira Menitsky & Fred Martel
By: Jennifer Azzolini
photo credit: Andrew Werner | andrewwernerphotography.com
Since 1830, Baume et Mercier has been a revered name in the luxury horological arena offering beautifully crafted Swiss watches at an affordable price. The launch of the limited edition Capeland Shelby Cobra 1963 watch marries the heritage the racing, passion and speed of Cobra Cars and the elegance and precision of Baume et Mercier. Any great beauty deserves a fete, and Resident and renowned luxury watch retailer Tourneau celebrated this momentous launch. Here we spoke with Tourneau’s CEO, Ira Melnitsky and Baume et Mercier CEO Fred Martel on trends in the watch industry and what it’s like to run these iconic brands in the fast paced and glamorous world of luxury.
Q: What do you think are the biggest trends?
IM: At Tourneau, one of the biggest trends this year is the growth of sporty watches, The Capeland Shelby Cobra is a favorite because it is elegant for a suit but casual enough to wear for daytime as well.
Q: Is that the same for women as well?
IM: We are seeing women that buy larger watches, the dials are getting larger, appropriate for them as well, the sporty looks. Our merchandising team ranges from fashion fans to real watch experts so combine those skills sets and talents and they find out what is right for our customer and what is best for them. There is still a very large opportunity in a growing business with women who are embracing mechanical watches as collectable investments rather than as a piece of fashion jewelry.
Q: Where do you see Tourneau heading in the future?
IM: We just celebrated 116 years in business, we hope to be around 116 more. Tourneau is the only national retailer of fine watches in the US and we expect to be in more important markets.
This year there has been more expansion online, more as more brand partners choose Tourneau as their preferred place to be for e-commerce sales, we shipped to homes but often they are picked up in stores. Since we are not represented in all 50 states, every customer is important and having the ability to serve them where they live is very important to us.
Q:How do you keep your customers loyal?
IM: Our customers are the most important thing we have and are our most important asset.
We do things big and small, from recognizing birthdays and holidays, thank you notes follow up reminders. We make this business happen truly one customer at a time, and we follow up and respect them with every case.
Q: B&M has a long history, how are you bringing that heritage to the new generations of buyers?
FM: We have long lasting relations with the US market, established for decades. The brand is the go to for any special occasions like graduation, Bat Mitzvah, first child, engagement, or wedding. Baume & Mercier then comes into picture. Since history we have positioned ourselves as Swiss watch making, producing extremely beautiful and reliable watches at very affordable price. It is what we call the access luxury, it is not mass branded. We produce beautiful watches that are very well executed, the craftsmen shift know how, everything is there, we have 186 years of history, and we have been really cautious about price point.
Q:Tell me more about your tie in with racing and the heritage of the watches.
FM: We have a very long history in watchmaking but you also need to be able to develop awareness. We are a storyteller, so we can tell a story using our watch making know how, but also put on a show like we did with Shelby Cobra to help us to double up and tell another story. We are talking about performance, achievement, and engineering. So there are a lot of similarities between the watch and car industries. The Shelby is a legendary car that won the world championship in front of Ferraris in ‘65 and today it is the only American car and driver that won still. It is a big piece of history and we want to tell that story with an addition of specific watches.
Q:Where do you see the biggest opportunity is for your brand?
FM: In term of brand the biggest opportunity is that we believe we own the celebration segment. We are a celebration brand, we believe life is about moments. This is our time and given our price point we are really a gifting watch brand, and there should always be a day to celebrate. Those moments are here and we think that is the biggest opportunity is to make sure our customer understands that when it comes to celebrate a moment important in life is to celebrate it with Baume & Mercier.