When it comes to watch brands, few have such an impressive legacy as OMEGA. From the Moon watch to Bond watch, the brand has created many icons, yet was always driven by a sense of innovation that lasts to today. We spoke with Raynald Aeschlimann, who was appointed the brand’s CEO in 2016, about OMEGA’s legacy and future.
Your predecessor was CEO for a very long time. What is the most important thing he has brought to OMEGA, and what do you intend to bring to the brand as CEO?
Mr. [Stephen] Urquhart steered the company through a period of significant growth, which gave the brand a solid foothold. I see my role as expanding OMEGA’s presence through a period of rapid change, by supporting innovation and finding new markets, in particular younger customers. This will require some bold moves and risk taking, which is fine by me.
OMEGA has quite a few ambassadors. How important are they for the company?
They’re very important. If a person who is admired and respected internationally represents the values of your brand, this is a very strong message to share. On a more personal level, they are also friends.
Next to ambassadors, OMEGA also focusses on technical innovation, like for example the anti- magnetic watches, as well as the Master Chronometer certification. Is this something consumers have been asking for, or more pushed from the innovation side of the brand into to market?
It’s both really. There’s a synergy between what we create and what our clients want. As a brand, it’s vital that we innovate, particularly in regards to new watch materials, but not at the expense of our legacy. In regards to high-level testing, such as the Master Chronometer certification, this is about building a genuine trust. We don’t just want to say that we can be trusted, we want to prove it.
It is no secret that the industry is going through a rough time. What do you think are the key factors for OMEGA to pull through?
We’re certainly not in high times. It’s a little bit more of a challenge, though actually, things have improved this year, as there has been a surge of confidence. But of course, we never take anything for granted. We are a very well-established company, and we’ve been through tough times before. We remain successful by staying true to our core values, which is to create beautiful watches of exceptional quality and sell them at competitive prices.
Do you see a change in consumer tastes, from say five years ago compared to now?
Yes, especially in regards to watches for women. There has been a move towards bigger, sportier styles and more robust materials, such as ceramic.
What is your most successful model, and why do you think that is?
Depends on how you define success, but I think the Speedmaster is the watch that has a truly global following, and this is down to the incredible space story behind it: the first watch worn on the moon and the only timepiece qualified by NASA for manned space missions.
At Baselworld we were especially surprised to find all of a sudden a new World Timer in platinum. Can you tell us something more about this extraordinary watch and why you decided to develop it?
There was a lot of interest in timepieces with multiple functions, such as the Moonphase, so it was a logical next step. It was also interesting for us to see how far we could go with this style of watch, without making it too large or complex to use. It gave us great insights into our movements and what they’re capable of. It’s a fun watch, but we know it’s not for everyone.
Of what aspect at OMEGA are you the most proud?
OMEGA is a company with great integrity. We have been responsible for many of the industry’s most groundbreaking innovations, but we have always stayed true to OMEGA’s DNA. I’m also very proud of the people who work here. They are passionate, committed people who love the brand as much as our loyal customers.