We sat down with the CEO of Cyrus, Ruben Mira Blanco, to talk about the introduction of the Klepcys Chronograph, and the impact it has on the positioning of the brand on the market…
Haute Time: You’ve had a long career in the watch industry but taking over Cyrus during a difficult time must have been quite the challenge. What inspired your decision to join Cyrus as CEO? Was it a key moment in your life, or do you feel it is a natural step in your career?
Ruben Mira Blanco:I started working in 2005 for DLC Trading, it’s a company that distributes watches in Latin America as Sales area manager for brands such as: Hublot, British Masters, Romain Jerome, Corum. This is where I had the chance to work with Rick De La Croix, Jean-Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe. Of course it was a key moment in my life. Taking over an independent brand in 2014 was a crazy idea and a big challenge, but I like big challenges, and the harder, the better. I decided to accept this position for different reasons: first it is a family owned business. Usually, when a family owns a watchmaking company, they are in this business out of passion. Being passionate is a key element to me, an element that adds more life and identity to the brand. The independence and flexibility of family owned businesses are also important points that I considered when accepting this challenge. The second reason why I decided to take over CYRUS’ management was because CYRUS has its own manufacture managed by one of the best watchmaker: Jean-François Mojon.
HT: This year, you’ve repositioned the brand with the introduction of the Klepcys Chronograph, an entry-level watch below £10,000 and with the most accessible complication on the market. Why was this project (your first with the brand) so important?
RMB: Because I love chronographs! Putting love aside, you have to understand that today in this market if you want to exist and compete with others big brands, price is key . When I joined Cyrus, the identity of the brand was not very clear. We had three different collections with different designs. For me the most important thing on a watch is its identity. Why? Because, this is how you differentiate yourself from the others; and it distinguishes you from other brands. This is why I decided to focus on the Klepcys line, which for me had the strongest design with the two crowns and round dial. Cyrus was known for the Klpecys, with it’s unique way of displaying the time. But the price was high, and not everybody can understand the complexity of the mechanism, and that it is more complicated to make than a tourbillon. It takes a week to assemble.
Moreover, we did not have a strong chronograph in our collection, and it is essential to have one but at reasonable price. Given that one cannot survive by only selling watches at CHF 100’000, this decision was also justified from a retailer point of view. Retailers cannot always afford to have our brand only by making big investment for a few pieces. In my view, placing a chronograph under £10,000 was crucial. A bit lower than a Hublot Big Bang, and higher than Omega, Cartier etc…I would like Cyrus to be a credible alternative to these big brands by being more qualitative, having a stronger design, a stronger identity, and, lastly by adding more creativity and exclusivity to our pieces compared to the competition.
Accordingly, we will produce 300 chronographs a year, and in two years, present a new one. I believe that today most of the watches in the market are not exclusive anymore. Luxury equals exclusivity and people want to feel exclusive, not to have the same as everybody else. We will shortly present a very mechanical three hands skeleton to complete our exclusivity offer.
Unlike most independent brands, Cyrus is a manufacture, capable of producing parts in-house. What advantage does this give the brand, and are there any challenges you feel it throws at you as well?
It allows us to be independent from suppliers on most of the components of our movements. In addition, this allows us to exercise a better control on quality and production speed, and to easily adapt to the demand. But also it gives confidence to retailers.
Haute Time: The brand is named after a Persian Emperor who reigned 2,500 years ago, yet it is know as one of the most modern in the market. How does Cyrus balance these two extremes with ease?
RMB: He was a conqueror and an avant-gardist, as we are. Our product represents that perfectly; we produce our timepiece with the biggest respect to traditional watchmaking, but our product design and the components we are using are very modern.
Haute Time: Cyrus announced its first ambassador this year, Mesut Ozil, FIFA World Cup 2014 champion and one of the most talented football players in the world. How does he fit the brand?
RMB:My strategy is to focus on dynamic and entertaining sports such as basketball, but we need to find an ambassador who is an underdog. Someone like us who has the potential to become one of the best one day. That is very complicated because big brands already take most of the interesting celebrities. We should never take a sports celebrity that is not one of the two best in the world or does not have the potential to become one of the best. Because if he is in the top two everyone respects him, second of all he is someone serious because he worked harder the others and he will be serious in your partnership, and it is totally true. That is why we prefer to have friends of the brand or better say a new member of the family.
Haute Time: The ten-year mark is the one set as a measure of success by most independent watchmakers when they get started. It corresponds to a lapse of time large enough to develop a DNA, a clientele, and a direction for the future. You’re halfway there. Do you know what to expect of the next five years?
RMB: Five years? This is obviously far enough in time, but I know that we will do everything to develop the brand by continuously introducing new products that reflect our DNA. We are also taking all necessary steps to develop our brand worldwide. We need to expand our network even further with respected retailers to give our brand notoriety. I believe next year will be a very difficult year for everyone, because big markets such as Asia and Latin America are slowing down. Retailers are full of stock; big brands put a lot of pressure on them. This could however also be an opportunity for us to gain market shares.