Q&A: UK Chronoswiss distributor Tiago Sa-Henriques

Chronoswiss exhibited at Salon QP, but it did not lead to the appointment of any retailers.

Swiss watch brand Chronoswiss announced its relaunch in the UK when it exhibited at luxury watch show SalonQP in London last week.

WatchPro met with Chronoswiss and its newly appointed UK distributor Tiago Sa-Henriques, founder of FOGG, to pose him some questions.

Q: Tiago, could you briefly explain your experience within the luxury goods sector?

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A: I come from a family jewellery business in Portugal and trained as a jeweller in Lisbon. As a result of the economic contraction we eventually had to close our Lisbon boutique. This experience helps me understand the challenges small independent family retailers face every day. So in 2011, I came to London to do a Diamond specialization with GIA and decided to stay. My first UK job was with Annoushka and from jewellery discovered a love of watches, it was a very quick step. So I applied for a position at Time Products, owned by Marcus Margulies. At that time, besides the three shops in Mayfair, Time Products was also the UK distributor for some other brands. So that was a great introduction to the UK market. Working with Marcus also helped me understand the UK customers and how important it is for retailers to have someone onshore to look after them and motivate their sales teams who actually are the most important person inside a retailer, they are the true brand ambassadors!

Q: How did the new relationship between Chronoswiss and Fogg start?

A: Well, my father had a Chronoswiss a long time ago, one of the old Timemasters, and I always loved it. So Chronoswiss have always been very dear to me. I visited the Chronoswiss stand at Baselworld this year and spoke with Karlo Burgmayer (managing director sales and marketing). I explained why I loved Chronoswiss and my plans for the future of the brand in the UK. After that he invited me to meet the owning family, Oliver and Eva Ebstein in Lucerne and that’s how it started.

Q: What is your strategy for the UK and where do you intend to start?

A: First of all, I need to make contact with the POS’s that Chronoswiss previously had, assess the situation and see where we stand. What retailers need to understand is that the reason Chronoswiss started working with Fogg is because they truly know the importance of having someone who understands their needs, who can pro-actively provide them with close support in terms of sales, marketing, aftersales and help them reach more customers. Chronoswiss wants to reassure our partners that they are investing in the UK and this is a top priority market for them. Within a month’s time we will be opening a new POS in Mayfair and after the initial assessment we will be looking at cities like Edinburgh, Brighton, Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge, and Windsor.

Q: What does Chronoswiss offer in terms of watches to consumers and in terms of business for retailers?

A: In one word: authenticity! We offer high-end mechanical timepieces manufactured in Switzerland. Chronoswiss never sold its soul by producing a quartz watch. When Mr. Lang founded it more than 30 years ago in the middle of the quartz crisis, while manufactures were either closing down or shifting to quartz movements in order to survive, against all odds he created a brand exclusively dedicated to preserve the watchmaking techniques. A watchmaker himself, he loved mechanics so much that he wanted people to appreciate their beauty so he was the first to introduce, what is now an industry standard, the sapphire crystal caseback. So when you own a Chronoswiss this is what you own, a bit of this history – triumph over adversity – and authenticity.

Now, what do we offer to retailers? Something very special, and this only occurred to me last weekend at SalonQP. We had so many Chronoswiss owners coming to us to show us their watches and tell us how much they love it. I remember one collector coming to me saying that he had a Chronoswiss once and it was the only watch that he truly regretted selling. What SalonQP showed me is how much potential the House of Chronoswiss has and how it captures people’s imagination. And that is priceless. It’s the most important thing that a brand could have. A loyal fan community!

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