Buro 24/7 Exclusive: Corum’s Davide Traxler reveals his 2017 plans for the iconic watches
Fresh and current
Since 1955, Corum has carved a steady presence as the maker of unique watches. Of which, the Admiral's Cup, Bubble and Golden Bridge have been the brand's most recognisable collections to date.
For Davide Traxler, the Chief Operating Officer of Corum, the brand's lasting appeal has been key to its success and continues to be the vision of the company. "Corum offers special watches for special people," he said. The COO, who has been at the helm of Montres Corum since September 2015, is optimistic that 2017 will see the brand growing more prominence in this region. Here, he takes five minutes off his jet-setting career for a one-on-one with Buro 24/7 Malaysia.
Hi Davide, welcome back to Malaysia. Can you tell us what is your creative vision for Corum?
If you look back at our history, Corum has been the choice of American presidents, the King of Spain and famous personalities like Andy Warhol and Elvis Priestley. These incredible people could choose anything in the world and they chose Corum. So, I think the Corum consumers are people that we can define as self-knowing, confident and aware. Corum is not for a follower; rather it's for someone who makes a personal choice for something different. The difference we have is the great strength of the Golden Bridge and the craziness of the Bubble. I think this is what we want to go on enhancing and to feed these two iconic families with incredible new pieces. Of course, the Admiral's Cup will be one collection we'll keep on looking into and grow. So once again, we stay very close to our DNA but there are lots to do within that DNA.
How has the new ownership been on the direction of Corum?
Initially we suffered because being in the watch trade, it's very conservative. The fact that it's from China, it kind of scared everyone. But I think the bad effect has faded off and now we're offering something that no one else can offer in this trade. We have a strong watchmaking basis with five brands, so it's a beautiful portfolio. On top of that, with the purchase of a private bank that happened this year, we're offering a unique opportunity to our clients in private banking, five star hotel and high-end watches. So we're talking to the same consumers from many different angles and we feel that somewhere we're becoming a group that can serve the consumers around the world in different ways.
How do you plan to cater to the market in this region?
Well, if there's a reason why I've been to Malaysia five times this year, it's because I like to listen. And listening means meeting consumers, sales people at the stores who sell all brands, spending time with them and understanding how they feel. I enjoy speaking to the chiefs of retailers and our team. All that listening allows us to fine-tune our products. Our watches are distinct but there's always fine-tuning you can do to make it more adapted to your consumers.
Personally, I was born in the States to an Italian father and English mother; I've lived in North and South America, Africa and Europe. So you learn to listen and try to understand and integrate. I think that's a great tool that I was given in my childhood – to learn to shut up and listen (Laugh).
What are your plans for the iconic collections – Golden Bridge, Bubble and Admiral's Cup, to keep them fresh and current?
Again, by listening. Bubble is our opening to the world. We have many activities and plans that are a different culture to what you normally see in watchmaking. We're collaborating with many kinds of artists and engaging with people from all levels of society to get involve and enjoy in the creative-making of Bubble through global contest, tie-up with school, etc.
When it comes to the Golden Bridge, it's a different world. This collection is about beautiful movement and how you make beauty around it. We have strong novelties coming out for the Golden Bridge and we're now deciding what exactly to launch because we have too much. We're excited and we'll have to repress ourselves but the Golden Bridge has so many possibilities in our variations that have not been investigated yet. But just like the Bubble, anything you do to it, it'll remain an iconic watch. That's what's wonderful about these two brands; both have strong identities that remain strong however you decorate it.
In Admiral, a lot of work will revolve around the 45 with a focus on the materials. So it's an exciting year, and even in a difficult environment, we're confident. And again, we're having a good time.
What are some the challenges faced by the brand? And what have you learnt in your first year at Corum?
The biggest challenge for a brand like Corum is the management. When you have a brand that has three families which are so different marketing wise and distribution wise, it's difficult to manage. All three brands have different consumers, so how do you package that into one brand? That's the challenge.
The upside of the challenge is the resilience. All the markets have different offerings so you're not depending on one market or target group. When one thing goes down, you still have other things you can hold on to. So obviously, as always, there's the negative and positive side to it.
The first thing I've learnt was working with Chinese stockholders. I must say that I've never had as much trust and freedom in my life as with our current stockholders. It's really interesting, fun and exciting - and it's a beautiful surprise for me. What I've also learnt was a lot of discoveries about different countries because I've been travelling so much, and that, to me, is always beautiful - to listen to people, feel different styles, cultures and ways of seeing the same product or issues. You become richer everyday just by being in all these countries.