Etiquette Arabia sits with Olivier Birault, CEO of Saint Honoré to discuss the luxury market in the region, the brand’s reputation and the world of Haute Joaillerie.

What sets Saint Honoré apart from other fine watch brands?
From the beginning Saint Honoré has always signified elegance and style blended with the highest standards of innovative and contemporary watchmaking skills. Over the years the brand has developed a reputation for signature sense of style, innovative features and daring design elements that run through every one of its creations. Today the renowned ‘Paris Style’ of the brand powered by Swiss made quality is synonymous with glamour, glitz and panache. The variety in Saint Honoré range of offerings effortlessly bridges the gap between the world of high fashion and classic timepieces.

Which way do you see the luxury market going in the current global scenario?
While the luxury market as a whole does get influenced by market sentiment and the economic conditions in the long term. In today’s interconnected world, there are few segments that remain immune to market impulses on a global scale. Currently the luxury market is being powered by the increasing appetite for luxury goods from emerging economies such as China, Southeast Asia and India, while growth in more traditional markets such as Europe, the US and Japan have been slow. Additionally the GCC countries too continue to be significant players in the current scenario.

How do you plan to tap into the regional market going forward?
Given the importance we attach to the customers from this part of the world and feeling the need for better interaction with the local community in order to understand their needs, we have recently opened our corporate office in Dubai, which is the commercial and business hub of the region. This will enable us to better understand the particular requirements of the regional consumer and adapt our future creations to meet their needs. We are also putting in place a strategic expansion plan across the region, which will see us doubling our presence through points of sales across the Middle East over the next five years. We will also continue to work closely with our regional partners in order to develop flexible strategies to adapt to regional preferences.

What do you feel are the major factors behind your growth in the region?
The Middle Eastern love for luxury and unique creations has welcomed the Saint Honoré brand with its grand traditions of innovative design and style. Over the years we have witnessed strong growth across the GCC, especially in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, thanks in no small part to our regional partners who interact closely with our customers to predict future trends and preferences. Continued economic expansion fuelled by massive investments in infrastructural and commercial development keeps the market outlook extremely positive. The growing number of tourists into the region brought in by the flourishing airlines of the region is another factor in driving further sales in the region.

The brand is publicized as one of the novel watchmakers, could you give us a few recent examples?
Along with its preference for traditional watchmaking methods, a process of continuous innovation drives the creative force behind the brand. Saint Honoré has always placed great emphasis on the development of new technologies, the search for new devices and the quest for new ideas. The Orsay Tourbillon was one of the very first Tourbillon watches designed especially for ladies. This prestigious model was the inspiration for the rotating monogram, a true signature to be found on selective watches in the SAINT HONORE ladies range. The stunning Eclair Effect, which gives a glittering diamond-paved finish to our timepieces is another sterling example of our innovative spirit, another example of which is the One Carat concept, which transforms a watch into a precious piece of haute joaillerie. For men, the disc-chronograph innovation is a totally new way of reading the time, whilst the panoramic screwed glass offers an exceptional in-depth view of the movement.

What is the inspiration behind the brand?
Paris, often known as the City of Light, is the inspiration behind the brand. SAINT HONORE creations are appreciated worldwide for their elegant, sophisticated and unmistakable style, where meticulous attention to quality and innovative design combine to create a timeless elegance, all qualities that signify Paris. The brand is named for the Rue Saint Honoré, the legendary Parisian address, temple to Haute Couture, home of the great jewellers and watchmakers and symbol of French art de vivre. The brand’s flagship store stands proudly at Number 326 on the street that echoes the name of the brand.