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[Interview] with Laurent Lecamp, Executive Vice President Sales at Carl F. Bucherer – Fine Swiss Watchmaking

Enjoy our exclusive conversation with one of the headliner speakers at the Luxury Business Forum Middle East and Africa – Laurent Lecamp, Executive Vice President Sales at Carl F. Bucherer and co-Founder of Cyrus watches.

InterviewThanks to Cyrus watches brand you are known as one of the youngest CEO in the Swiss watchmaking industry. How did you manage it to co-create and develop the brand?
Developing a brand is far from being easy, especially when the economical environment is not at its best. When CYRUS has been launched (2010), I remember that all my friends and relatives told me how risky it could be to develop an independent brand and all of them tried to convince me not to do it.
But I did not pay attention to what they said at all. And I think that it is the first quality that is needed to develop a business: believing in yourself and be willing to take all risks to meet success. I strongly believe that life will give back a lot to you if you take risks and believe in what you do, whatever the environment, whatever people can think.
To me emotion and passion are key elements to success.
Emotion is a feeling. You feel which products you have to launch, how you can be different from your competitors, how you have to promote your products, which will be the key changes in the next years (…). Emotion is your best friend and you have to train it everyday. How? Be curious, open-minded, and keep learning. Anyone who keeps learning stays young, whether he is twenty-five or eighty-five. Stay young to be aware.
Passion, on its side, makes your hopes shine to the stars. This is the sparkle in your eyes, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas and transform them into reality. To me passion is the key to open both soul and heart.
Be passionate!
And you need…luck.
For CYRUS, for example, I remember that I met in Monaco one customer – from South America – who was a key watch collector and who had written his thesis about … CYRUS The Great! Yes, it does happen sometimes! We spent half of a day together at the TEMPS&PASSIONS watch shop discussing about the life of CYRUS The Great and I explained how his life had inspired each of our collections. At the end of our meeting the watch collector bought our most expensive timepiece for a total amount of Euro 129’000.— and told me that it was the most emotional “watch meeting” he had in his life. In that case he was not a CUSTOMER anymore…but he transformed into a FAN of the brand.

How much time and efforts did it take you to open Cyrus watches and make it successful? Are you still involved in managing the company and how?
I remember that the first day we launched our very exclusive collection, the KLEPCYS one (between 89’000 and 139’000 euros), two collectors – one in Russia and one in Hong-Kong – called me to pre order the timepiece. The one living in Hong-Kong was a famous collector of Patek Philippe whereas the other one, based in Moscow, was a fan of Audemars Piguet. Two different customers, two different cultures, two different mentalities but one common interest: CYRUS. The very innovative aspects and the emotional part of the timepieces were both very appealing to these collectors.
But this timepiece has not been developed from a day to another; it required a lot of time and energy before launching it.
In such a project you can work up to 17 or 18 hours a day, months long. But you do not have the feeling to work so hard as you love what you are doing. All this energy, if driven by emotion, passion and innovation, will always lead to success.
I do not see success as the amount of money you have at the end of the month but rather as the final result of a process. In my case, having the first final timepiece of our collection in my hands was the expected success after such a hard work.
Money is a way to do things, not a purpose, even if CASH is KING Смайлик «smile»
Under my management (I am not working for the company anymore), the brand has received many awards regarding design and creativity and has even been awarded best independent brand during “La Nuit de l’horlogerie, Monaco”.
One idea I had developed for CYRUS with my cousin together (Julien LECAMP, watch designer) was the first existing 3D moon in the watchmaking industry. This major innovation (with real landscape of the moon engraved and moon phase indicator) helped us make the brand famous, in addition to a strong DNA.

Why did you decide to join Carl F. Bucherer? You have now been working there for more than a year. What has changed in the company since then and what do you enjoy most about your job?
Carl F. Bucherer is one of the very few independent brands in the Swiss watch making industry that still belongs to the same family since its creation in 1888 and this is something that has a true meaning for me. Everyday I feel the real (human) values behind the brand.
I joined this company as Executive Vice President Sales. Our key markets are Europe, Asia and USA but I have a strong feeling that we can develop a long term and very good business in ex CIS countries and Russia too. I speak Russian and I know these countries very well. At that time it is true that it is far from being easy to develop business there but with a strong commitment and patience we can (and we will) manage it.
Many people do not have a good image of Russia…just because they do not know it. I love this country and its culture and I can tell you that Russia will surprise everybody in the next years, once the current situation (conflicts,…) will be over.
Do not forget that Russia is estimated to hold between 7.5 and 15 percent of oil deposits, 25 – 40 percent of world gas, 25 percent of coal deposit. On top of it Russia could become the breadbasket of the world if global warming continues to take its course. A rise in the earth’s temperature caused by global warming would enable the development of farming in the vast plains available (around 16 billion square kilometers).
I really enjoy taking up new challenges.
The more difficult it is the better. Easy things will not bring a lot. I really like it when I have to fight and be creative/innovative to find solution and develop business.

In your opinion what is the main reason why many luxury businesses fail to succeed? Are there any secrets of success in the luxury industry?
Think about what Henry Ford said : “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It could not be clearer.
It is essential to sense « l’air du temps » and « think out of the box ».
Many brands are losing their own values / DNA and confidence also. If there is a slowdown in the luxury market they will immediately react and focus on products that are not so innovative, not so creative…no risky products. It means products to please to everybody. And this is the way to failure.
Luxury brands need to innovate, to move. Think about Brunello Cucinelli,Comme des Garçons, HYT Watches, Encelade-1789,…the innovation is the heart of their strategies. The more difficult the global environment and the more innovative you should be. This is NOW the best time to focus on a BE DIFFERENT / BE INNOVATIVE strategy. Brands should not wait that growth comes back to reinvest. I am 100% convinced – as previously explained – that risk will pay back. Always.
There are a few secrets of success in the luxury industry. And some of them are explained within the book INDEPENDENT LUXURY, book co-written with Jonas Hoffmann and launched in September 2015 (www.theindependentluxury.com).

You and Jonas Hoffman wrote a book “Independent Luxury”. Tell us more about it. How luxury professional and companies can benefit from reading it?
Independent Luxury is the first book in the world that deals exclusively with independent luxury brands.
With my friend and co-author, Jonas Hoffmann (expert in innovation -www.til-associates.com), we decided to study independent luxury brands from very different fields: gastronomy, automobiles, jewellery, watchmaking, fashion accessories… These brands all possess what we summarise in our book as the BA2RE approach.
B for BELIEVING – this is the passion inherent in an individual that creates his or her brand. It is a vital force that you can neither buy nor create. Either it is there… or it isn’t.
This first stage is also the one that shows the strength of an entrepreneur who has to have enough self-confidence and create what he wants to rather than what his customer (or sometimes his investor!) wants.
A for ANTICIPATING – this is the very clear vision that an independent brand needs to have of how the market, the environment and the competition will evolve. It’s a question of keeping in tune with the times and future developments.
A for ACTING – then it is a question of getting down to action and launching your products on the different target markets, at the same time developing the resources, competence and processes that this requires.
R for REACHING – this is not about reaching the end consumer but the “fan” or future fan of the product, the person who will like the brand, its products and who will be a genuine ambassador for the brand. In this case, it is the emotional factor that is key.
E for ENDURING – this is a question of ensuring that the brand can develop and gain strength over time.
Do not forget that independent luxury brands are often armed with nothing more than their passion and innovative spirit. In fact, we have identified four different strategies of innovation in the book (Back to the Roots / Code Breakers / Eagle in Aquarium / Game Changers) for independent brands. Innovation is what allows an independent brand (whatever its size) to set itself apart and to carve a niche out for itself. Without innovation, success is impossible.