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Benoit de Clerck: “A watch you buy has to have a sentimental value”

Beran Toksoz
July 4, 2024
5 min

By numbers. Of course. [Tennis coach] Patrick Mouratoglou has been a long-time partner. We’ve had three or four years together, which means there has been three to four years of numbers. Now, to measure UTS’s success is something that’s tangible, but it’s difficult to put a number on at the moment. We will know numbers after the competition. After it’s over we will see the return on investment because we will know what the TV and YouTube viewerships are.

So reaching people is the key?

Exactly. Reaching different markets, new people. We know this partnership is good for the brand, but I need numbers to show how much money this will generate. We will also be monitoring how many people come to the store and buy because of what they have seen on TV or YouTube. As well as for which countries this competition is popular.

But is there a return-on-investment point; is it a long-term investment? Or short term? Because if you are going to try to attract the younger generation, it will take time; time to adapt. Some other brands, for example, were collaborating with tennis many years ago.

I believe that there will be a short-term impact, and longer-term impact as well, but this is another thing I will be measuring. I am accountable, you know? To the group, to the division. of course, I want to know how much it’s bringing me.

Moving away from tennis and back to your plans for Zenith. Do you have a new boutique strategy that you want to implement?

I’d like to see more segmentation of the collections. Today when you go to a Zenith boutique, you see the collection is there, but what I’d like to see is more separation. I’d like to see all of the Chronomaster Origin on one side; the Chronomaster Sport on one side, all the Defy on one side; all the Pilot on one side, so that when the customer comes in they know immediately what they are looking at.

Zenith's Defy Skyline Chronograph

Is there an average age for a Zenith customer?

Recently we were calculating our database, and we realised our customer is getting younger. Not substantially younger, but significantly younger year by the year. Why? Because today's younger people have a lot of money. Twenty years ago you had €100 and you were the king of the world. Today you have €100 and nobody looks at you. These young people also know what they are buying and they've realised that Zenith is a safe purchase. They get a lot of watch for the money, in my opinion. They get the best grade of titanium, the best movement, the best design. We also have the El Primero – a renowned award-winning movement.

What was your first watch?

I bought my first watch with my second pay cheque – my first went on a camera. I wanted an IWC 3706, known as the Fliegerchronograph, a pilot's watch. I did not have enough money but I went to the store, and I told the salesman, 'I want this watch, and I want to take it now. I’ll give you cash, I’ll give you credit cards — I had maxed out my credit cards — and I’ll give you a post-date cheque. So, you’ll have the money, just not now, but in a couple of days. But I want the watch now.' The salesman refused but the boss agreed. He warned me, though, that if the cheque bounced, he would find me. I will admit I was scared. Three days later I went back, money in my account and told him he could cash the cheque. I obviously never told him how scared I was!

In your opinion, how many watches should a person own in his lifetime?

I think what’s important is that watches are bought as a celebration, or as a memory. Graduation is traditionally a time when you receive a watch, as is when you get married. Then there’s your first promotion, your first child – buying a watch is very good way to celebrate, and to remember. I think it has to have a sentimental value. So, there is no specific numbers, it’s about emotion. At Zenith we know most of our customers have at least two of our watches, but we only found this out recently. It’s usually a Chronomaster, and sometimes a Defy. Tomorrow, we want them to have a Pilot.

How often do you change your watch?

I love to change my watch because I have that luxury. It depends on the occasion, and also my mood. But I change my watch at least every day; sometimes two times a day.

Is there a complication that you are particularly enamoured with?

I like the minute repeater as a complication; it’s very interesting. But, outside of complications, I also like our Pilot line because I love the dials, and the big date. I think those things are beautiful. I wear normally wear a Chronomaster and the Pilot.

Do you collect art?

I love art. Particularly going to galleries. I love to roam around. When I can, I go to Art Basel, and for half a day, or a day, I walk around. By myself, my hands in my pockets and sometimes with music on. No wife, no secretary, no business, and I walk. For me it’s a form of meditation.