PARIS – Vacheron Constantin has planted its flag in the heart of Manhattan, choosing New York – and the American market – for its largest store.
The move comes as high-end watchmakers are betting on a robust return of luxury demand in the United States, fueled by an increase in post-pandemic consumption.
“New York’s flagship product will give us a unique opportunity,” Alexander Schmiedt, new chairman of Vacheron Constantin, told WWD during a Zoom call.
The executive described the brand’s ambition to offer watch enthusiasts – not just the brand’s customers – a full experience.
“Watch enthusiasts will really be able to go through the whole day without getting bored,” Schmiedt added, he said, checking off the store’s feature list.
“It will almost be like an extension of the manufacture,” he said, referring to the production site in Switzerland, noting that the brand has brought in machines and tools and even a watchmaker from Geneva to offer ” deep diving master classes ”, while a dedicated online tool offers an overview of the label’s archives. Vintage pieces and ultra-high-end watches in a single edition, called “Les Cabinotiers”, are also on display and a space has been set up for events and private receptions.
The store spans two floors, with 4,500 square feet of space, on 57th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. The house is also celebrating the centenary of its 1921 American watch by offering a reproduction of the original timepiece.
“We’ve always been a niche brand,” he said, noting that he prefers not to use the term “exclusive” because that means excluding others. Describing fans of the brand as “a happy group of watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs” around the world, there are many in the United States, he said.
“I still see the United States not as a big market but really as big submarkets,” he explained, ticking off the big cities on the east coast – like New York and Boston – as well as the United States. west coast – Los Angeles and San Francisco – while Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas each have a specific universe.
The plans are to bring people to the New York store from other parts of the country – and even the world.
“We clearly want to use it as an extension of manufacturing,” he said.
Anchoring the store with local ties, artwork inspired by the kinetic cityscape sculpture “Metropolis II” by artist Chris Burden – in conjunction with his estate – will be on display.
Schmiedt, who will take charge of the North American market next month after serving as brand director for the brand in the Middle East, said the store was developed with teams in Geneva, involving senior management as well. as marketing and architecture departments.
“It’s a new dimension for Vacheron, in terms of size but also in terms of experience, who will be in this flagship,” he said.
The new store symbolizes the brand’s interest in investing in the United States, where it hopes to attract more watch enthusiasts, he said. Asked about the challenge of wooing the younger generations, Schmiedt cited wealthy tech entrepreneurs as the kind of people who might be drawn to the label.
“When I meet high tech people most of the time they wear mechanical watches,” he said, signaling an interest in such products as the pace of life is accelerating, with a flood of social media communications and shorter life products.