Understanding Omega's watchmaking DNA and modern vision
At Baselworld 2018, Omega had much to celebrate. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster, and it was honoured with two Limited Edition models that pay tribute to the original post-war classics. Meanwhile, a range of updated models commemorates 25 years of the iconic Seamaster Diver 300m. The brand also introduced a brand new line for the ladies named Trésor, fronted by fashion IT girl of the moment, Kaia Gerber.
Clearly, Omega has a firm grasp of its heritage, while keeping up with the contemporary demands of today's fast-paced world. To understand the workings of this dynamic brand, we speak to CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, who sheds light on Omega's modern vision and watchmaking DNA.
On Omega's watchmaking DNA
"When you talk about watchmaking DNA at Omega, you have to remember that we have a long history—125 years of history. It is very interesting. We're the only watchmaker in the industry whose name came from the watch movement. The founder created such a great movement that he considered it nirvana; paradise. In greek, the letter for it is Ω (omega), and that's what he called it.
For 125 years, beauty has always been associated with our watches. There is design, there is style, at the same time we also care very much about the movement and technology. It's all in the details. And because of that, it is great value for your money and the best in its price range. That is our DNA, and I'm very proud of it."
On current trends in watch industry
"We are one of the key players in the industry, and in some countries the biggest brand. We see a lot of changes. The changes come from people like you, from people who have grown into this incredibly connected world, and very much looking at trends, fashion, accessories, but also about being a bit different. Millennials like personalisation, and they like to buy something because they believe in it, not because their father used to have it. They don't look at luxury the same way as the older generation.
Another key to staying relevant in the industry is about asking "why?" from the consumer's perspective, like "Why should I wear an Omega?". To keep up with the trends, we also started working with influencers like Kaia Gerber. She is opening major fashion shows, she is a big influencer, and she also shares our values. These are the kind of people we are looking to work with."
On the rise of the digital age
"It has affected us immensely. But we were not the first ones to engage influencers and bloggers. If you look at our Instagram, you can see that we are very much digitally driven, because we know that our customers have changed. We are not old-fashioned. I think social media is a fantastic tool, it's where everyone gets their news update from these days."
On the new Trésor
"We realised that we were missing a slight, very beautiful, elegant, feminine watch that is also very thin, and will go well with designer dresses. That's why we launched this watch. At 36mm and 39mm, it's not a small watch, it's one that you wear with pride. And we launched it with Kaia, because this is a watch that is both fashionable and quite timeless, made with some of the nicest materials—which are features that people like nowadays."
On the Seamaster turning 70 this year
"We celebrate 70 years of an incredible line this year in two ways. Firstly, we've redesigned and are relaunching the 300m with the best technology. It's a very recognisable watch that is also known as James Bond's watch. At the same time we are also celebrating 70 years of the Seamaster with a look that pays clear tribute to its heritage. It's a watch that a lot of people have been, and still are being inspired by, that's why I'm really proud of it."
On his favourite Baselworld 2018 timepiece
"It's like having to choose my favourite child (laughs). I think we have a good mix of everything this year. What we've done with the Seamaster 300m is amazing; the Tresor is a good answer to a gap in the market; then we've got the Speedmaster "The Dark Side of the Moon" Apollo 8, which is something that is quite romantic and emotional, but also unique. I'm proud of all of them."
On his go-to Omega
"I think there are some of watches that become part of your life, they have emotional values. I have of two of these. The first one is a Speedmaster, because it's such an iconic watch with a rich history. The second one is a gold watch that I have given to a friend of mine. I bought it because I loved it, and I wanted it to be a part of my collection. But I gave it to my friend who had cancer, because I thought, this is a watch that I wanted him to wear when he's in the hospital. He survived—he's now in his best form, and that watch holds so much emotional value now."
On the brand's modern vision
"This is a magical brand filled with pioneering spirit. We're successful because we talk to the people, and we listen so that we point the brand in the right direction. For example, we just opened a new NATO store in Le Marais in Paris—no watches, only NATO straps. It's doing quite well for us because there are a lot of people nowadays that wants to buy a NATO, then maybe after that they'll go for an Omega. Not every watch brand will do that. This is a new generation we're catering to, and this is a way to show people who we are, how dynamic we are, and to build on our legacy."