It has been noticed that Mr Bennahmias takes a look back over his three past years at the head of Audemars Piguet Replica, talks about the brand’s flagship product – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Replica – and above all evokes the future with a smile on his lips.
When you took the helm of Audemars Piguet in 2012, what did you find and where is the company today?
I found a wealth of talents, brilliant people who weren’t all playing the same music or the same score. What have I done with all that? I’ve got them to play the same music and the same score. That meant realigning Audemars Piguet’s strategy. Where do we come from, what do we want to do and within what time frame do we wish to do it? Today every single Audemars Piguet employee – all the way through to the cleaning crew – knows the answer to the latter two questions for at least the next ten years.
For as long as necessary to do what?
To reverse the Audemars Piguet Replica Watches of sales between retailers and Audemars Piguet boutiques. We are going to open 100 of the latter and we are already at 41. Of those hundred or so, 60 or so will be owned by us and the rest will involve partnerships with retailers.
As far as ranges are concerned, what are you doing with the non-Royal Oak collections, such as the Jules Audemars?
We are gently winding them down. We are gearing up for the launch of a new round watch, so I’ll let the Jules Audemars that are already in boutiques sell out gradually, because they are communicating vessels.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Replica Watches is fundamental for Audemars Piguet. But isn’t it dangerous to rely so heavily on a single model?
This strategic independence is in fact that which helps us to grow, because it enables us to sail through the storms. We are fortunate to have it! This model is universally recognizable, widely copied, and has also enabled us to successfully open up a new market: that of an all-gold watch in our range levels. The market for gold watches on gold bracelets simply did not exist apart from Rolex and Cartier. We acquired our position by lowering our prices, at the SIHH 2013. At the end of the day, not only has this worked, but we have actually quadrupled our sales of all-gold watches, at a time when the entire market is lowering its price levels. We are doing exactly the opposite. We are making this strategic wager because we have the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. There is of course a certain long-term risk, but it’s very low in comparison with the benefits…
You’ve been attacked head-on by Richard Mille on the one hand and Hublot on the other. What is your product response to these two brands?
We haven’t actually lost that much ground on complications, despite having pressed the pause button on launches. Richard Mille models can easily reach price levels of more than 700,000 Swiss francs, a segment where we are not active. And its success is good news for everyone. Moreover, competition doesn’t really work that way. A far more classic watch currently dominates the segment of highly complicated models. What is really going to matter in the end? The arrival of far younger clients between the ages of 25 and 35, and that’s actually a really impressive trend. Our mission is to return to what we know how to do, namely surprising people and breaking the codes. And it will be up to others to watch out for what we are going to offer! One of the themes of our seminars is “The Force Awakens”, a sign that we are confident about the noise we are going to make!
One of your flagship launches is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie, which is an important development for your minute repeater watches. How are sales going?We are going to produce 50, of which 30 the first year. Our boutiques have already taken pre-orders for 30. We’re talking about a model priced at 520,000 Swiss francs before tax…
In the field of High Jewellery, you are launching a downright crazy watch, the Diamond Fury. Are you going to introduce new releases more frequently, or to create less exclusive models?
If you think the Fury is crazy, wait till you see what we’re going to come out with next year! We haven’t yet pulled out all the stops… We had already sold 5 Diamond Punk watches, our 2016 Audemars Piguet Replica Watch model. And we are already regarded as a creative brand. We are looking at how we can leverage the concept in different price zones.