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iW Interview: Five Questions for Antonio Calce, CEO Girard-Perregaux

Has the new Laureato been a success for Girard-Perregaux?

Antonio Calce in New York.

Two years ago I told our company that Laureato would be the focus in the years to come, and we started to work quickly to develop the collection, which we launched last year. We started with thirty-four references, and now Laureato’s place in our sales is very strong, more than fifty percent.

Girard-Perregaux launched the Laureato Chronograph two years after its return to the Girard-Perregaux collection.

The new Laureato Chronograph


And now we have Laureato in ceramic. We launched Laureato in full last year, and we have focused on this strong identity within Girard-Perregaux.

The Laureato Ceramic, in black.

We had not had a strong, steel collection offered in the past because we were focused primarily on the gold pieces. Another one of my first moves when I arrived at G-P in 2015 was to introduce a new price segment with the 1966 collection in steel. It was a big success-- a new product offer in a new price segment.

The Girard-Perreguax 1966 in steel, new in 2018.

We are watchmakers and we have to be creative with our products. We also need to be fresher than the brand image.

The 1966 collection now includes these two steel models, at 40mm and 36mm, for the first time with a smoky grey dial.

At the other end of the price range, what is the inspiration for Esmeralda Tourbillon ‘A Secret’ we saw at SIHH?

When we launched that Esmeralda last year, it was for the anniversary of 150 years of our Three Bridges. The original pocket watch La Esmeralda Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges, created by Constant Girard and awarded a Gold Medal at the 1889 Universal Exhibition held in Paris. At that exposition, by the way, the Eiffel Tower was actually in second place. This is real history.

The Esmeralda, Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges presented in 1889 at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

The newer La Esmeralda specials are inspired by that pocket watch. We felt it was nice to have pieces of art like this. We will produce only three pieces. This year it was the La Esmeralda Tourbillon “À secret,” which required more than 200 hours of work.

Girard-Perregaux La Esmeralda Tourbillon 'A Secret'

I want to maintain its exclusivity, so there will be only one more next year. (Note that the GPHG jury in 2016 awarded the Tourbillon Prize to that year’s La Esmeralda Tourbillon. The same year, the jury also gave the High Mechanical Ladies Watches Prize to the Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye Tourbillon with Gold Bridge).

Is Girard-Perregaux careful about gray market sales of its watches?

Girard-Perregaux, Laureato skeleton

The goal of our parent company Kering is to create value. If you have the best product for your brand, the best strategy, the best communication, but then you do not manage the distribution correctly, you kill the brand. You have to be careful today about who you work with to distribute your brand. You have to know how many pieces you placed on the market. Every month I keep careful track of the quantity we sell. We have taken back our contracted distribution in many countries, because today it is the only way to control the distribution.

The Girard-Perregaux manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Why has Girard-Perregaux begun partnering with musicians such as LP?

Yes we have partnered with LP, but it is more then about the music. It’s about attitude and our relation with the person. Yes I am impressed by what she does and about her open mind.

What are Girard-Perregaux’s primary attributes as a top watch company?

The goodwill and the perception of our brand. We are one of the oldest brands in the watch industry, with an incredible history. I have a piece of gold in my hand with this. It’s not just about sales, it’s also about value. It’s like a mission.

Engraving the gold caseback of the La Esmeralda Tourbillon 'A Secret.'

Vasken Chokarian is director of iW Middle East