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Priceless Breguet watches hit India
BS Bureau in New Delhi | October 15, 2005
Most watch companies are so full of high-sounding claims - usually involving one or other combination of the words luxury, culture, heritage and tourbillon - that it's difficult to prevent your eyeballs from rolling involuntarily ceilingwards during an interview.
With a company like Breguet, however, most of what is said can be taken at face value. There's good reason why the company is one of the most respected in the horology business - its founder was the legendary 18th century watchmaker A L Breguet, who is credited with nearly 80 per cent of all the major innovations in his profession.
Consequently, the brand name is scattered widely across history (A L Breguet designed the first ever wristwatch for the Queen of Naples, Napoleon's sister) and literature (Stendhal compared the mechanism of the human body unfavourably to a Breguet timepiece!), and the legacy has seeped down to the present day.
In a marketing-driven world, and even after its acquisition by the giant Swatch group, the company has maintained its dignity - refusing to customise for new markets, for instance, or to go out on a limb with advertising. Mostly, the name is allowed to do the work.
Now, Breguet has entered the Indian market. "We already have several Indian customers who buy our watches on their overseas trips," says Rodolphe Schulthess, vice-president, worldwide sales, "but we wanted to get closer to the market."
Schulthess believes the sophistication level of Indian buyers is high compared to that in other emerging markets. "This is, after all, a connoisseur brand - it appeals to collectors, to people who know their history and their art. And we find a lot of that in the Indian market."
Worldwide, Breguet has only 500 points of sale - another pointer to the company's exclusivity - and it expects to have a maximum of five in the Indian market within the next year. But then sales are measured by value rather than volume.
"We are confident of growing between 20 and 40 per cent in the Indian market," says Christopher Viguerie, vice-president, Asia-Pacific, "but it will be done at our own pace." Breguet sells in 45 markets worldwide; the target is that India should be in the top five within the next three to five years.
The full collection is being launched in the Indian market. The average price of the collection is Rs 12 lakh but the top end "will go up to infinity", says Schulthess glibly. Jokes aside, keep a few crores handy in your wallet.
Reine De Naples Flyback Chronograph (Rs 7,94,000)
This piece comes in 18-carat pink gold with a fluted caseband. Its dial is in blackened rhodium and the chapter-ring has Arabic numerals. There is a day/night indicator at 3 o'clock and the date in an aperture at 6 o'clock. The movement is self-winding.
Classique Grande Complication (Rs 1,20,00,000)
The dial is silvered 18-carat gold, hand-engraved on a rose engine. There is a retrograde month indicator at 10.30, a leap-year indicator in a subdial at 8 o'clock, a day indicator at 4 o'clock, and the age and phase of the moon is depicted at the 2.30 position. With a chapter-ring with Roman numerals, Breguet blued-steel hands and a 40-hour power reserve.
Reine De Naples Type XXI (Rs 15,50,000)
The case is egg-shaped in 18-carat white gold, with a fluted caseband. Bezel, dial rim and ball-lug set with 139 diamonds, totalling approximately 1.32 carats. The dial is in 18-carat silvered gold, paved with 211 diamonds weighing 0.63 carats. The strap is natural black satin.