And now… My exclusive interview with Mr. Olivier Jonquet.
Jonathan Kopp: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Would you please tell us a little about yourself and your background in the industry?
Olivier Jonquet: It is my pleasure Jonathan. I have been a collector for 13 years, buying and selling my watches all the time. Reading books, forums, always looking for a new model to buy. I am a watch addict ! I currently have another job in French wine market. My wife, father and I manage this first watch project in our free time and we plan to launch new ones in 2015…
Jonathan Kopp: Regarding the company itself, can you tell us a little about the size of your brand, the number of watches you produce, etc.? Even if we know that you are starting…
Olivier Jonquet: So it is a family run company, we are 3 persons : my wife and I are in contact with customers and suppliers. My father is the financial manager. We chose a Kickstarter-like method wich allowed us to raise a part of the funds before launching the product. It involves the clients in the project creating a strong link with them. It is also a good method to verify that people like our creation… The Elie watch is limited to 50 pieces. Few subscriptions are still available but we had enough subscriptions to manufacture the watches, so we decided to anticipate the initial date of decision of september. Watches should be delivered at the end of this year.
Jonathan Kopp: You were the originator of the “Elie Watch” design. Where did you get the idea to create this timepiece?
Olivier Jonquet: On a swap meet, I often go to a swap meet close to where I live for buying old watches, I restore some of them. One morning I found an old watch from the 20s, with a cushion shape, no brand at all on it. I really liked this watch but several things didn’t fit to me, so I began to imagine and draw it exactly how I would love it. This cushion shape was very popular in the 20s. What was the main idea of the concept? And, What were your sources of inspiration? I want to propose singular watches, not too expensive for a limited quantity of person.
I would like to create what I like and that I don’t find on the market. No Innovation, just a very nice watch, singular, well done with a good rate money/quality. French made was also important to me, a lot of french person/company are working for the Swiss watch industry, but only few French brands are manufactured in France. So this was also important to me. We found very good French craftsmen who are working for very famous Swiss brands who accepted to work with us in this project. “French savoir faire” still exists, we hope to contribute to maintain it in France in the future. Logo OJ represents a radiator grill cover, it has also, I think, a spirit of French modern art of the 20s.
Jonathan Kopp: Could you explain us what was the most complicated things during the phase of creation and technical studies?
Olivier Jonquet: I wanted to have a good French hand wound mechanical movement to fit to the spirit of the watch but I wanted a 38 mm watch. So to find this movement has been a challenge, but we found it.
Jonathan Kopp: What caught my eyes in the “Elie Watch” pieces is the fact that they have a very contemporary and retro look. It’s inspired from watches of the 1910/1920 era (in my opinion), and combines modernity and retrochic. I personally love that… Do you think this type of pieces with a vintage look can be “The” new fashion trends?
Olivier Jonquet: Thanks Jonathan, it is exactly what I wanted to do. I changed few things from old cushion shapes, faces are completely flat, glass is also flat, in old fashion cases they are rounded, “also for the glass”; size is also more important in the Elie Version.
Yes we are a lot to like vintage things, so it represents a big market, it is the same in a lot of different markets. May be these lasts years more than never. Some people are saying that in crisis period, when people are afraid about future, they are looking for safe haven; we know the past so it would be a safe haven… I’m not a psychoanalyst, so actually I create what I like without asking me these questions what I try to do is to create nice timekeepers to give some happiness to future owners.
Jonathan Kopp: Is there anything you would like to highlight for the WristReview readers related to your current models?
Olivier Jonquet: Only few subscriptions are still available for the Elie watch, please visit our website and make your own opinion on this watch. We plan to launch new watches next year, if you don’t like this one we hope to convince you with our next models.
Jonathan Kopp: Let’s talk now about the future and your various market. As your brand is a niche brand, which are your largest markets currently ? or are you just selling to some of your friends and some collectors?
Olivier Jonquet: 35% of our subscriptions are from USA, we will export to 14 countries. It has been a huge surprise for us, thanks to internet, only 3 watches are sold to friends/family. Yes we probably have several collectors as customers.
Jonathan Kopp: And what are your goals for the company over the next few years?
Olivier Jonquet: We want to become stronger and stay a niche brand in order to follow our singularity. Our wish would be to build a nice company but not a huge one. Sell beautiful watches at the right price to a limited quantity of customers. In the future we would like to sell watches between 1 500 € and 3 000 €.
Jonathan Kopp: It’s also important! We will finish by mentioning “the future”… First, the future of the models. You probably have already ideas about next collection. What can you tell us?
Olivier Jonquet: Sorry Jonathan it is too early, I propose you to discuss about that at the beginning of the next year?
Jonathan Kopp: It will be pleasure for me Olivier.
Obviously, over the past couple of years, changes in the global economy have had a significant impact on the watch industry. Aside from the changes in the economic climate, what do you see as the most significant challenges for many brands over the next few years?
Olivier Jonquet: I’m not yet very familiar with watch industry, I try to propose on the market craftsman watches at competitive prices. I would say that in all very competitive markets to me there is only one answer : « be and think different ».
Jonathan Kopp: As we approach the end of this interview, are there any other things you would like to bring to the attention of our readers?
Olivier Jonquet: Please become our Facebook fans, by this way we’ll keep you informed of future novelties.
Jonathan Kopp: That’s a great answer, and for our readers I’ll put the link of your Fanpage.
Now two question just about you…
Do you consider yourself a watch collector? If so, what would one find in your collection today?
Olivier Jonquet: I did but I sold all my watches to finance this project. I had, several very different and famous brands. An old Gold Zenith Respirator was my first mechanical watch, then several Oris, Breitling, Rolex, Longines…
Last watches I own are: one old Eberhard chrono and a Ventura watch + several old watches which are mostly unknown today.
Jonathan Kopp: What do you personally look for in a timepiece?
Olivier Jonquet: I’m not really looking for something in particular, just an emotion, I’m not looking for performance at all. My tastes are changing a lot, I don’t like same watches today than I liked 10 years ago.
Jonathan Kopp: Mr Olivier Jonquet, Thanks a lot for taking your time. It was a real pleasure…
Olivier Jonquet: It’s my pleasure Jonathan, Thanks a lot for this interview.
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Jonathan Kopp – Contributing Writer
Jonathan Kopp has an avid enthusiasm for timepieces of all genre, from vintage timepieces to modern Luxury Haute Horology. His preference goes to small and independent high-end watchmakers. He loves the difference rather than classicism, although if he admits to being in love with several ultra-classics pieces. Jonathan was caught by the passion for watchmaking there are almost 6 years. For about 5 years, he wanders in this industry and was Communication-Marketing-PR Consultant for several brands. He has worked for over 2 years as a freelance for the development of the Swiss brand Arthur Oskar Stampfli (AOSWatches). To keep in touch with Jonathan you can follow him on the various social networks: Instagram,Facebook and Twitter. Read his articles here.