Earlier in March this year, the MBA students (Luxury Brand Management specialization) embarked on a field trip to Geneva, excited to get a closer look at Switzerland’s renowned watch making industry, the glamour designs behind boutique jewelry houses and key insights into current market trends within the global banking scene.
In light of our diverse interests, we kept an equally mixed agenda, comprising an impressive line-up of Vacheron Constantin, Hublot, Adler Jewelers, Union Banque Privé and the Global Fund.
First stop: the legacy Watchmaker!
During our tour of the Vacheron Constantin quarters, we were immediately impressed by the exceptional artistic creations of this heritage brand. Its legacy, dating back to 1755, was embedded so strongly in every corner of the watchmaking facilities, which by appearance looked more like timepiece laboratories. Each stage of production, from design to finishing, was handmade, with an accent on refined craftsmanship, relentless hours and dedication to both excellence and quality. At least 15 years of experience was required to progress to the “complications” watch department – a privileged corner of the company, where top-selling and most exclusive pieces were made, all hand crafted of course. It was certainly an impressive blend of expertise, heritage and story-telling that the Vacheron Constantin brand embodied and this was obvious from all aspects of their product, facilities and insightful staff members, which kindly guided the “Luxury girls” through their impeccably maintained quarters!
Hublot: “The Art of Fusion”
On the other side of the spectrum was Hublot – a much younger brand, more dynamic, edgy and innovative. The parallel between the two companies was clear – each had their own signature and quest for quality, but the watchmaking process and overall brand identity were rather different. Hublot, a subsidiary of France’s LVMH, was founded in 1980 and has set its mission on cutting edge innovative designs: providing quality luxury watches, but via a more automated and less time consuming process. We had the privilege of seeing ‘game-changing’ machines in Hublot’s creative factory, which had a much more industrial feel, somewhat like the watch designs themselves – bigger and bolder. The brand’s watchmaking headquarters in Nyon truly reflected the overall mission values – their techniques were novel, digital, automated and it is no surprise that this has bolstered Hublot to currently pride itself on selling the world’s most expensive watch at a price tag of “$5 million”. Luxury anyone?
All that sparkles…
There were certainly no complaints to start the next day with a bit of diamond sparkle and make our way to Adler Jewelers – a family owned brand, specializing in custom-made designs. We were kindly greeted by Alan Adler himself and the family at their creative studio and store in the prominent rue de Rhone. After a company presentation and roundtable on current practices, trends and future visions, we were offered the opportunity to try on the masterpiece jewels and get an up-close feel of the product range. All of us, visibly excited, thought the exquisite necklaces were “fit for a queen” – well in fact, we guessed correctly – the Adlers have long been designing jewellery for Arabic royalty. And we certainly understand why!
A global touch
In addition to the luxury perspective we gained, our group also visited the Global Fund for a round table discussion on its core foundations of raising support for the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The organization has developed a new funding model to foster more strategic investment and partner engagement to achieve greater global impact. We then moved on to the banking sphere with a visit to Union Banque Prive (UBP), where we received a presentation on current market trends and an overall financial outlook. It was a very insightful afternoon to complete a well-rounded field trip, from sectors in non-for-profit, to luxury, sustainability and banking. Diversity at its best!
Nothing captures a field trip better than some quality time spent as a team. Aside from our spot of sightseeing in Geneva, the MBA crew also headed over to the Kempinski Hotel for some cocktails with several IUM alumni, most of whom have successfully secured jobs at the very companies we toured. It was a great time to reflect on the past days and share our impressions of the unique brands, people and luxury products.
We can all truly say that this was an enriching experience – a great way to align our theoretical studies in luxury with the tangible products, to see the craftsmanship behind the final pieces, to meet the people driving the company vision, to gain valuable industry insights… and above all – do it in style!
Written by Ana Krndija, Australian, current MBA student (Luxury Brand Management specialization)