Since 1791, Girard-Perregaux has been associated with the lofty heights of Haute Horlogerie. The Maison is a perfect example of how functionality, aesthetics, and innovation can all coexist. This year, the Swiss brand marked 230 years of continuous existence.
Girard-Perregaux become the official watch partner of Aston Martin Lagonda and the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team in February 2021. The Maison has been busy this year, introducing a slew of new models, including some high-complication clocks and models incorporating cutting-edge materials and know-how.
THM: You’ve been a part of this industry for the past 15 years. What has your journey been like?
Patrick Pruniaux: I have worked in different industries and countries. From TAG Heuer to Apple to leading Ulysse Nardin and now finally working as the CEO of Girard Perregaux, the journey has been amazing. It’s a privilege to be leading a company that is 230 years old and has remarkable expertise in fine watchmaking. It is one of the oldest brands in terms of its ability and know-how of producing fine watchmaking timepieces.
THM: Before we dive into the exciting timepieces, how do you manage multi-tasking as the CEO of both Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux? Two very distinct brands which you are constantly evolving.
Patrick Pruniaux: I’m very fortunate to have two strong teams across both brands. Both the brands are completely separate in terms of how we operate; it’s almost like a Chinese wall between the two brands. The truth is that team from one brand is unaware of what the other brand is working on. Very few people are exposed to the brands and their workings. What’s very important for me is how we stress on the DNA of each brand when manufacturing timepieces.
THM: For a watch like Girard Perregaux, it’s not the cost that is the determining factor. Where do you position Girard Perregaux as a brand?
Patrick Pruniaux: It’s simple. Girard Perregaux is a manufacturer brand; one of the most integrated ones. We’re a Manufacture with history. It’s also exclusive to people who know, and a great way to enter the world of Manufacturers. When you come from a mass luxury brand, you want to discover something more specific, like a Girard Perregaux that exudes a certain warmth with a design that is exclusive but also one you can wear every day.
THM: Girard Perregaux has been associated with the automobile industry since 1930 when you did a couple of pocket watches with Shell and this year there was the Aston Martin Collaboration. Just like an Aston Martin is generally never your first car, can a Girard Perregaux be your first watch?
Patrick Pruniaux: Well, it can. but it’s an entire education process. You start from the smaller brands until you discover the beauty of the world of a Manufacture. Our partnership with Aston Martin is important also given the several similarities between the two brands. When we first started engaging with the brand, it was almost like we’re using the same vocabulary, although we operate in two different industries. It is quite a captivating partnership that is going strong- in terms of the understanding of the technical and design aspect. We have demonstrated this with the two launches this year – one on the Haute Horlogerie front with the flying bridges and the other one with the Laureato Aston Martin limited.
THM: What is the aftermath of the brand owing to the last few unprecedented years?
Patrick Pruniaux: It has been a tough year but I see a major shift for luxury products and this time around it’s going to last, especially for watchmaking. There’s a great appetite from the consumers to discover new things along with a strong demand for authenticity, a need that Manufacturing brands like ours can cater to. The aftermath of the COVID crisis is not clear, since we haven’t exited it yet, but we have attracted consumers that want to dive deep into the roots of the brand rather than just scratching the surface, hence it’s been good for us.
THM: Coming to the new launches, the La Esmeralda Tourbillon “A Secret” Eternity Edition, two new Laureato’s, and the Cat’s Eye. Can you share a little about the watches?
Patrick Pruniaux: It’s no secret that we’re launching newer watches. With the Esmeralda, we’re leveraging the brand’s history, but taking it to a whole new level this year with the craftsmanship. We hope people see the mix of our various expertise – the watchmaking on the inside along with the design and use of our craftsmanship – enamelling. We make our enamel and this year, the focus is to celebrate this fact. There is of course enamel on the dial but also the cover of the Esmerelda. We manufacture some of the nicest enamel dials in Switzerland and you will see this even in the new Laureato’s and the Cat’s eye.
THM: Moving on, what are your plans for India?
Patrick Pruniaux: We’d love to come back. We have great partners in India and a boutique, too. There’s a natural appetite for nice products and craftsmanship in India. Consumers are going for watches that are more than just a status symbol. They want to understand what a manufacturing movement is and at Girard Perregaux, we manufacture dozens and dozens of movements all by ourselves which is a strong differentiating factor, making the piece unique. Lastly, I’m super optimistic about the Indian market.
Whilst this is just a synopsis, click here to watch the full interview with the ever-so-dynamic Patrick Pruniaux.