Top ad area, 970 x 250 (could be anything though)

Catherine Renier: “A good example of a gender-neutral watch is the Reverso”

Beran Toksoz
April 15, 2024
3 min

Since you became CEO, the alignment of Jaeger-LeCoultre with the worlds of art and design has really gained momentum.

That’s because I believe it’s a world which is very close to ours. First of all objects, today watches are considered objects that you do not need, so they become true luxuries. They’re like a work of art, in as far as they’re something that will bring you an emotional connection, rather than a purely functional object. We wanted to work with a lot of artists, which to some extent we always have as a Maison. It gives us another dimension of visibility.

There’s a large audience for vintage watches among younger people today; at the same time, it seems older people are influenced by young peoples’ preferences… What’s been your perspective?

I don’t know if I’m young or old…! The stereotype of younger people is that they’re all about digital-everything, but we have seen they’re very passionate about craftsmanship as well. They’re generally interested in objects that are timeless – they love visiting our manufacture, they appreciate the opportunity to put their phone away and talking to craftsmen. I think this is fantastic for the future of luxury, and definitely when it comes to what JLC can bring to the table.

How often do you change your watch, and what would one of your favourite complications be?

In a week I tend to wear three different watches. My go-to is my Tribute Reverso in burgundy, but as I’m travelling a lot  at the moment I love the Dual Time Reverso. I also love the Rendez-Vous Shooting Star – the feeling of luck I get when I see the star appear, suddenly, makes my day.

Maurizio Galimberti‘s artwork from ‘The Story of Grande Maison’ book published by Flammarion. Photograph © JLC

There’s been a unisex trend in watches, but it seems JLC’s strategy appeals to different genders instead. Is that true?

I wouldn’t say it’s strategy, but more so our history. Historically men and women have been balanced clientele for JLC, which is unique within the industry; we always made watches equally for both, and the clientele split is 50/50 still today. For a gender-neutral watch, a good example is the Reverso – the same model can be worn by women and men. We do see more and more women wearing men’s watches.

What kind of relationship are you looking for between your ambassadors and JLC?

We want them to have a true passion for craftsmanship on a personal level. It’s very important for them to come to the manufacture, to appreciate the handwork and see what it’s about. With artists there’s often a mutual understanding, because they too work with their skills too and learn their craft. Of course, it’s also about the personal values, the care, the search for excellence… plus, some humility.

How has the definition of luxury changed since you started working in this business?

For me, luxury has always been about craftsmanship and heritage combined. The term necessitates strong history and artisan know-how. So I think an idea of exclusivity has become more and more relevant, even while the digitalisation of our world has changed the way we reach clients and share our identity and values. That’s been the biggest transformation.

Photograph © JLC Archives

Which brands do you like personally, outside the watch industry?

I’m a very authentic and loyal person, so truly the one that comes to my mind is Van Cleef & Arpels. I’ve also discovered Delvaux in leather, which in fact belongs to our group – but I discovered it long ago in Asia.

You lived in Hong Kong for many years. Was it a big change bringing the family to Switzerland?

No, not at all. We love experiencing different lifestyles – for us, it’s about being outdoors, so we ski more than we swim now, but we love both. That was the main adjustment!

Where should we visit in Hong Kong?

I’d recommend Din Tai Fung for the dumplings – that’s my family’s favourite restaurant, it’s very easy going. And you must cross the harbour by ferry, it’s a unique experience.