In Conversation: Raynald Aeschlimann

OMEGA’s President and CEO lands in the Philippines to launch the new Seamaster Aqua Terra in Amanpulo

by Mano Gonzales

 

 

OMEGA celebrates the launch of the new Seamaster Aqua Terra Collection in luxury resort Amanpulo, perfectly highlighting the Seamaster Lifestyle suited for both life on land or on the ocean. Amidst the celebrity circus in this dream destination, Rogue sits down with OMEGA’s President and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann and talks about the new Seamaster Aqua Terra watch, how social media has changed the watch industry, the magic of OMEGA and what he thinks of ‘time’ beyond watches.

 

What is the difference between the market in the 90s when you joined Omega and the market now? How does social media affect how you operate?

I think between the 90s and today, the market hasn’t changed that much. I think the big change happened in the late 70s, when Swatch was invented—when everything became image, trend and branding-based. OMEGA had a big chance of understanding it early on so we started working with ambassadors like Cindy Crawford, the character of James Bond—we were focusing on the products. What is new today, I think, is how you should communicate to people. My job is to look at the figures and we are now tremendously better than we were in the 90s. What is new now is how you talk about your brand. With the new ways of communication, just saying your brand is the best doesn’t matter. Now, people don’t just believe that. This new generation asks ‘why.’ They want to understand and believe in what you’re saying. Right now we are trying to have a closer relationship with our customers. The same way why we’re here in the Philippines. So we can get to know our market.

 

“I always say that the emotion of a watch is always magical.”

 

Does that make it difficult?

Not at all. It’s harder for the ones who think they know everything. OMEGA is very known for being close to the consumers. You look up Master Chronometer or our products like the Aqua Terra online and you’ll find all information you need from the inside out. There’s nothing for us to hide. It’s about getting the message out there. Honestly, some of our competitors dream about the 90s, how easy it was then. I, on the other hand, dream about the future. There is nothing that we do that isn’t valid for the younger people.

 

Almost 2 years in, what is it like being at the helm of one of the strongest brands in the world?

Being a CEO, just based on what I see here in Amanpulo, I think it’s a fantastic job (laughs). It’s a very interesting job. Someone wrote about me being a veteran. I’ve been with OMEGA for 17 years, there wasn’t any revolution for me. There was only evolution. The reason is because I’ve been so passionate about the brand and now getting the chance to finally be CEO, I only get to make a few changes. Right now we just concentrate on how we link to the reality of the current market, how we communicate with millenials, but at the same time having a brand that is amazing. OMEGA is the most magical brand in the watch industry. If you think about what we do, there’s always something happening that is right for the brand. You can have the best brand in the world but if your goal is to just be elegant, you don’t come to places like this where you can launch your watch close to the sea. We are the Seamaster, the Speedmaster, we are on the moon. So that is what’s fantastic about representing and leading the brand.

 

 

 

 

Omega has such a rich history and culture. How do you keep a balance between sharing this history and also looking into the future?

It is not easy. But the most important thing is the values we have. George Clooney is a person who can get any contract he wants but he chooses OMEGA because of the quality, history and emotion of the brand. We also work with people like Buzz Aldrin and Eddie Redmayne so it’s all about balance. It is the same with design. Failure is not an option in creating the watch of the future if you take the legacy from the past. It’s not easy finding this balance but there’s a lot of passion within the company. There’s a lot of people around me who I’m very proud of who know so much about the legacy of OMEGA. They tell me if things are taken too far.

 

Does this also apply to how OMEGA designs the watches? Do you start with style or function?

Yes, definitely. Balance is key. The AquaTerra is all about elegance and every detail is very important to what the watch represents. How it works is also very important—its antimagnetic properties, how it can work under water for up to 150 meters, its power reserve and also all the materials that goes into making the watch.

 

OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra – Men’s Collection

 

The beautiful watch with the Mother of Pearl is a great example.

Exactly. If you use a dial that is just plain white, people would love it. But we used the mother of pearl for it and if you explain it to people that makes all the difference. I always say that the emotion of a watch is always magical.

 

 

What are the key reasons behind Aqua Terra’s success since its launch over 15 years ago?

I think it’s the continuity from when we first launched it. People love this watch because it’s very dynamic in terms of how it works and how it looks. People love to wear it on land but also in love it when they swim. That balance between Aqua and Terra—I think that’s the secret. We also keep a very incredible amount of elegance into it.

 

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra – Men’s Collection

 

Aqua Terra has been modified and innovated for the evolving market. What is next for the Aqua Terra?

We are still in the middle of the launch of this new collection so I can’t say much but what I can tell you is that Seamaster Aqua Terra watches are also incredible for golfers so we might have an evolution into that side of things. A lot of women are also asking for more diamonds so we are developing that. But it’s a work in progress at the moment. Right now, the new models are very successful.

 

Why do you think it’s important for the modern man to keep watches?

The days when men wore gray and black suits are totally over, so right now, watches are a very important asset in showing who you are. These days, I think the modern man looks at himself in a very different way. You can observe that in fashion, skincare, etc. It’s more about looking after yourself. That is why watches are very important for a man because it represents who they are. I truly believe in personalization and that men buy watches because they make them feel great. You can see that in what they buy in terms of shoes or in fashion. Young people now are also very brand-conscious so what we choose to buy is very important. I also think it’s about time men should take over fashion (laughs).

 

“You can be the president of the biggest country in the world or the poorest man but time is the same for everyone.”

 

Lastly, what does ‘time’ mean for you?

That’s a really good question. First of all, time is very democratic because it’s the same for everyone. You can be the president of the biggest country in the world or the poorest man but time is the same for everyone. There’s 60 minutes in an hour. What’s important is what you make out of it. I think it’s interesting how people have different ways of spending it and enjoying it. As I said, it’s the same for everyone but it’s all about enjoying it.

Check out photos of the guests who came to the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Collection launch:

  • Lovi Poe