WTI: How has your tenure been so far with GPHG?
RL: So far so good, a lot to assess and conceptualise. This is something I learnt in my professional career and is very much linked to the promotion of Switzerland and its economy. As the Swiss Ambassador in Singapore and then in New York in the function of General consul, I was very much in touch with the watch industry and rubbed shoulders with all players, clients, distributors, watchmakers and so on, quite regularly. These experiences were of great help in making me invest myself in the GPHG team and giving a new impetus to the Grand Prix de l'Horlogerie to develop its international recognition even further.
WTI: What are some of the fundamental strategies you will be focusing on – short term and long term?
RL: Right now we are brainstorming with our different partners about the potential of the GPHG. We are thinking of transforming the selection process from a traditional jury to a kind of academy inspired by the model of the “Oscars”. The idea is to shape the present GPHG into a more globally recognised event. This kind of transformation process requires a lot of consultation and exchange of views, both with other organizations of the watch industry as well as the local political authorities – whose support is essential. So you see, it's a very motivating perspective!
WTI: What are some of the changes you will be bringing or have already implemented?
RL: One of my objectives is to federate the forces serving the interests of the watch industry more and create as many synergies as possible between the different players in watchmaking. The GPHG, thank to its independence and neutrality, can contribute to this goal. What we have here in Geneva is impressive but, in order to expand the critical mass of key actors in the sector, we should transform it into a more concentrated strike force in the interest of the industry – starting by asserting Geneva as a main focus point within Switzerland as well as in the world. By seeking dialogue with all the stakeholders, not only locally, but also in other Swiss cities which hold a watchmaking tradition, such as Bienne and La Chaux-de-Fonds or with other important actors such as Baselworld or SIHH, I am confident that we will achieve this goal. We want to include them in our overall reflection process about how to best promote a traditional as well as innovative industry whose future needs permanent reinvention.
WTI: What are the marketing strategies that you will be adopting – seeing the general inclination towards the digital sphere?
RL: One of the main challenges of the watch industry is to keep a high level of quality, creativity and recognition in a high-speed changing environment - mainly due to the digital revolution. As every revolution, it involves real risks and great opportunities. How to take advantage of the 4.0 revolution and at the same time remain anchored in tradition, excellence and exclusivity?
With its different categories of prizes, the GPHG is the privileged platform which presents the best in the world of luxury watches. It is its core competency to face the future challenges and contribute to the sustainability of the watch industry. We will, of course, use all possible digital means to manage and market the GPHG, especially if we change the business model into an academy type organisation.
WTI: Why the sudden changes in the Prize categories this year?
RL: These two new prizes – the “Challenge” and the “Prix de l'Audace” - are the result of a reflection conducted by our committee of experts. Our strength lies in the fact that nothing is engraved in marble forever. This award highlights a trend and encourages brands with products within the specified price range to participate in the contest.. As the name suggests, it rewards the challenge of creating quality watches at low prices.
WTI: Which Prize category are you most excited about? Why?
RL: As President of the GPHG, I remain absolutely neutral about categories, nominees and prizes etc. But if new categories are created or old one eliminated, I make sure that this is done by the best experts we have, and I give my opinion in this circle.