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Van Cleef & Arpels’ Hugues de Pins


Van Cleef & Arpels, Hugues de Pins
Hugues de Pins. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

For greater than 10 years, Van Cleef & Arpels wowed the world with its quirky takes on time, typically powered by revolutionary actions developed by such luminaries as Christiaan van der Klaauw, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and François Junod. As marvellous as these names would possibly sound to observe lovers, their collaborations with Van Cleef & Arpels are merely marvels. In different phrases, Van Cleef & Arpels — on the apotheosis of its watchmaking — has succeeded in transcending timekeeping itself. It’s a declare made loudly and boldly by a variety of manufacturers, some unconvincingly, however Van Cleef & Arpels delivers.

The motivation is simple sufficient to know — the model wants its haute horlogerie creations to be on the similar stage as its haute joaillerie ones. Jewelry manufacturers do have the benefit of unfettered creativity, however this solely goes thus far in explaining the weird success of Van Cleef & Arpels. Its watches are definitely the topic {of professional} admiration, however they’re additionally wildly in style. Tellingly, there are quite a lot of watchmaker-jeweller manufacturers that merely can not declare top-shelf standing in each trades.

van cleef & arpels iconic alhambra collection
Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Assortment. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

On the event of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Poetry of Time exhibition in Marina Bay Sands, we took the chance to seize some face-time with Southeast Asia and Australia Managing Director Hugues de Pins about this. Fortunately, he’s primarily based in Singapore so we might really meet in individual, however it was removed from a certain factor because the organisation of the general public exhibition was executed within the looming shadow of Covid-19, and the unfold of the Omicron variant. “It’s a totally immersive expertise,” mentioned de Pins of the exhibition. “It’s not like being in a museum as a result of you’ll be able to work together with our specialists, some from Geneva and Paris; there are even actions for the children. It was an enormous query mark, whether or not the security restrictions would enable us to do it.” Luckily the Poetry of Time exhibition went off, and might need launched a brand new technology to the wonders of Van Cleef & Arpels.

There’s a number of similarities between the jewelry or excessive jewelry collections and the watch collections. The watch assortment is a continuation of our jewelry assortment. We take into account our watches as nothing completely different to our jewelry — the watches are literally jewelry, within the sense that they inform tales. It goes past simply telling the time. (As for watches influencing the jewelry), I believe you may have seen (within the exhibition) secret watches within the excessive jewelry collections, and so they impressed a few of these collections, whether or not they’re hidden within the pompom (or the pendant) on the finish of an extended necklace or on the wrist as a part of a bracelet.

Within the present assortment, we lately launched the Alhambra watch pendant, and you realize after all that the Alhambra already existed as a wristwatch. Now we select to specific the watch as a pendant and due to this fact as a bit of jewelry.

Stunning objects should be seen in actual life to be correctly appreciated. How do you method this, on condition that a lot of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations are usually not out there to easily attempt on?

I believe we are able to solely do that by educating our shoppers on the exclusivity (facet) as a result of, like another jewellers and watchmakers, we’ve very restricted manufacturing on sure references — and so they would possibly even be distinctive. That is one thing watch collectors specifically recognize, and it’s a part of a dream, in a means — to at some point get to see and check out on the watch (after which maybe proudly owning it). Promoting desires is what we do. Van Cleef & Arpels is just not about mass manufacturing, in spite of everything… we don’t goal to extend our amount sky-high.

Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady-Arpels Pont des Amoureux
Girl Arpels Pont des Amoureux watch. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

And this exclusivity is just not a advertising trick. It’s associated to the assets required to provide the watches (and jewelry too) in Europe. Take the instance of the Girl Arpels Pont des Amoureux (in any other case referred to as the Lovers on the Bridge) watch, which has change into an icon over the past 10 years and impressed the decor of the exhibition, by the best way. We aren’t capable of make greater than 200 items a yr, for the entire world. And they’re all offered out; we might promote way more than 200 a yr.

I’m stunned to listen to which you can really full that many in a single yr!

Precisely, me too! You recognize, it took us 10 years to have the ability to ship 200 items a yr worldwide. This instance exhibits that we stand on high quality (not on rising manufacturing to maximise numbers). For Van Cleef & Arpels, it is usually the case that we want watchmakers and jewellers to work collectively on our creations, so we’re restricted in that sense too. level.

The intricacies of one thing just like the Pont des Amoureux or the Ballerine Musicale watches actually come to life when you’ll be able to see them, as you’ll be able to on this exhibition, and listen to from the individuals who labored on them. How do you deal with the problem of explaining the Poetic Problems, which is a signature of Van Cleef & Arpels?

We’re very obsessed with our creations at Van Cleef & Arpels. I believe (all of us who work at Van Cleef & Arpels) endorse its values, and that one way or the other we’re the primary ambassadors (for the model). It’s as much as us to share the craftsmanship tales, from the standard of the gems to the inspiration behind (any given watch or merchandise of jewelry) and the design parts of recent watches from our artistic groups. So, to elucidate Poetic Problems takes a number of data; we should be true specialists in what we promote (throughout our organisation).

After all, we even have to know our shoppers as a result of poetry is good however they wish to be reassured about value-for-money. Clearly, most of our creations are uncommon and costly items… we’re not simply poets promoting poetry you realize!

van cleef & arpels watchmaking
The dial of the watch being painstakingly put collectively. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

After which I believe we add the tales of the maison to it… Possibly additionally in a means we add poetic language, with sure vocabulary, with a sure angle, which can be completely different from our opponents. This resonates very strongly for some shoppers. Usually talking, Van Cleef & Arpels shares a optimistic imaginative and prescient of life which is highlighted in each creation and in addition in its communications (of all sorts). That is, maybe, what many consumers are searching for, particularly today.

Talking of which, there appears to be a powerful urge for food for extraordinary watches and jewelry proper now. What do you attribute this to, and what do you suppose accounts for Van Cleef & Arpels’ success within the final 5 years or so?

I believe we’ve to return to the imaginative and prescient of Van Cleef & Arpels, by way of watchmaking, as a result of it is vitally completely different from our opponents. Our watches inform tales greater than they inform time, as I mentioned earlier. They belong to the extraordinary objects class, which has existed in our historical past since 1906, the yr the corporate was based. Van Cleef & Arpels all the time created excessive jewelry and extraordinary objects. And what belongs to that second class after all, generally belongs to the primary class as effectively.

can cleef & arpels exhibition
Components of the Poetry of Time exhibition. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

So the success of Van Cleef & Arpels is perhaps because of this very completely different method…Our watches promote at a a lot larger worth level to Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne, to call simply two examples, which is perhaps stunning (to those that have no idea Van Cleef & Arpels effectively). That is due to the exclusivity that I discussed earlier and the truth that our watches are created to be extraordinary objects, which may even be excessive jewelry.

To return to Poetic Problems, this can be a idea that we created that corresponds very effectively to this imaginative and prescient (of watches as extraordinary objects). Shoppers don’t purchase a Van Cleef & Arpels watch for a similar motive as they purchase a watch from A. Lange & Söhne. (Within the second case), you need precision and excessive efficiency, complexity within the mechanical motion, and glorious timekeeping after all. You don’t purchase a Van Cleef & Arpels for these causes, you realize, since you can not learn the time (exactly) in a lot of our watches!

Sure there isn’t any second hand on the Pont des Amoureux watch!

Precisely! Studying the time is secondary, and generally it’s not actually the purpose in any respect. Your Van Cleef & Arpels watch is a narrative that you simply inform to your self, to your folks and to your loved ones. The success of our watches is due to this, and the differentiation (between Van Cleef & Arpels and different watchmakers) that I discussed. Additionally it is due to the rising repute of our maison, as you mentioned, which I insist is a excessive jewelry maison. That is really an excellent factor if you make watches as a result of you want to be as much as the requirements of excessive jewelry in every thing you do, together with watches.

Van Cleef & Arpels, Lady-Arpels Pont des Amoureux
Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

Given that you simply take care of fairly a variety of completely different markets, from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to New Zealand and Australia, inform us about how these markets understand Van Cleef & Arpels in a different way, if in any respect.

In Singapore between the watch shops, the watch media like WOW, and the watch group, the scene is second to none in Asia. I believe actually Singapore is main the best way by way of watch schooling and accumulating. We additionally see an rising urge for food for watches in Malaysia and Thailand, though jewelry remains to be extra vital (in each). So I might say, in some international locations, when buying a Van Cleef & Arpels watch, the main target is much less on the technical particulars or the complication, and maybe extra on the sophistication of the watch as an merchandise of jewelry. However the curiosity in watches is certainly rising quick, generally… we’ll be opening new boutiques in Australia and Auckland. Oceania remains to be within the infancy of luxurious, by way of style, by way of data, however it’s beginning and beginning strongly.

So, we see very completely different ranges of maturity from one market to the opposite. If I can communicate to a typical thread throughout the area, I’ll say that it’s the common age — the profile of the consumer — which if I’ll say is kind of younger. Principally feminine, of their early 30s. So that is true for Van Cleef & Arpels however not solely. There are self-made entrepreneurs and businesswomen… you realize, profitable professionals who’re prepared to indulge themselves, or please their household and associates. So I believe the concept of a hoop, or watch or bracelet being supplied by a cherished one (if one is feminine) is perhaps not solely from the previous, however it’s now not the one choice. Loads of ladies are making these choices for themselves, or for his or her family members, which I believe could be very good.

can cleef & arpels exhibition
Components of the Poetry of Time exhibition. Picture: Van Cleef & Arpels

We all know that Van Cleef & Arpels is a jeweller of no small renown. But the advertising footprint is modest. How do you clarify the towering repute of the maison?

Properly, we’ve been identified now by generations of shoppers, particularly feminine shoppers. And I might say maybe the preferred and most iconic assortment of jewelry is the Alhambra. It has actually grown in reputation over 50 years, because it was created in 1969. It’s immediately a real icon on the planet of jewelry; many youthful generations first got here to expertise Van Cleef & Arpels from this assortment.

It’s true that we’re not attempting to reveal ourselves all over the place, in each media, in each channel… We intentionally attempt to keep fairly discreet by way of our communication to most people. Nevertheless, what we do and the place we focus most of our efforts and investments is on current shoppers. And I believe when you change into a Van Cleef & Arpels consumer, even when it’s your first buy, and it’s a small Alhambra pendant, for instance, you instantly belong to the Van Cleef & Arpels household and group of associates. By personal engagements, private invites and personal occasions, you perceive an increasing number of concerning the maison, and in addition your individual tastes and the way Van Cleef & Arpels can fulfil your desires. I imagine that is the important thing issue for the success of our model.

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