Corum CEO, Davide Traxler was in Dubai and provided some interesting insights into the brand’s incredible growth in 2016. The only brand to have a meteoric 80% YOY growth in business in 2016 against the run of play, and the backdrop of steep a decline in sales of Swiss watches globally. In a one-on-one with Eldrich Ferns of Luxury Arabia, Mr. Traxler speaks about the industry and the brand’s growth trajectory.
We are indeed optimistic as the year has had a great start and we need to bring the company back to its position as a leading fine watch brand. We are glad to report an 80% year-on-year growth over the last year, which may sound incredible given the overall slowdown in the luxury watch market and the overall slump in Swiss watch exports. Corum is going against the flow and our approach of swimming against the current is succeeding despite the lacklustre market indicators. The chief drivers of our growth have been major markets like the United States and East and Southeast Asia. Today the brand family is a 100 strong. Last year we produced 10,800 units and this year is expected to be considerably more.
What place does R&D play in the on-going development of the brand?
Baselworld is the platform where we display our latest creations for the world to judge the technical and design mastery of our craftsmen. R&D has and will continue to play a hugely instrumental role in shaping the way the brand develops over time. We as a group have made huge investments in our movement facility – EMC. Our watches will be increasingly powered by own movements beginning this year.
Has the golden era of the watch industry passed and do you think it will peak again?
I wouldn’t say there’s another peak to come but I would say when you have a trade that goes well for 30 years, you have to expect that it matures at a certain point and it’s maturing so it’s becoming a better trade. I think when things become more normal, it’s a better trade.
Of course the Golden Bridge – it’s unique, it’s special, and we’re the only ones to make anything like it. But Corum has this history of special pieces it’s made through the years and when you go through the archives, it’s just incredible. You’ll see pieces like the Coin Watch worn by presidents, by Andy Warhol, by the Bee Gees, you know, by special people who choose to wear special watches. The other day I saw the King of Spain who was wearing an Admiral’s Cup and you see so many people who can afford what they want and choose what they want and they choose Corum. And they chose us through the years so that makes us very special.
Given the wide range of your timepieces, what exactly is the positioning of the brand and the pillars that drive its growth?
Well I think to a certain extent, that’s the challenge. We basically have three brands within a brand. We have the Admiral’s Cup, Bubble and Golden Bridge. And when you have these three, you have to be able to communicate them coherently. These iconic ranges have been the pillars of the brand’s growth and give us resilience in the market because, for example, the Admiral’s Cup performs better in Europe and the Golden Bridge is stronger in Asia. So we have different strengths in different markets.
Which is your best performing line?
The re-launch of the Bubble was very special. It brought quantity and volume. On the other hand, the round Golden Bridge remains our bestseller in terms of value.
The Bubble has been an iconic piece since its launch in 2000 and there are many Bubble collectors. It’s kind of a different world. It is a crazy watch that appeals to people who want real watchmaking but at the same time want something different, with a twist. They are special watches for special people. It’s all about telling a story that’s different – a crazy, amusing funny story. The Bubble client is an affluent client who is looking for a twist. So what we see is people going into the store looking for a high-end watch and instead they end up buying five, six, seven Bubbles. And we see a lot of these repeat purchases.
What are your long term goals for the brand?
I want the brand to be among those five brands that are considered absolutely special that a collector wants to have. That’s not a question of size. It’s a question of distinction. I think Golden Bridge has to be one of those watches that anyone who collects watches wants to have. And I think Bubble has its place there too. It’s much more about the character of the brand than the size of the brand.