The world is full of former executives and watch experts from the big groups that find their way into new ventures, but it is unusual for ten former Richemont Group employees to have teamed up to create a new independent watch brand.
The brand, named Riskers, is the brainchild of a team that learnt their trade at brands including Cartier, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Baume & Mercier. Co-founded by Pierre Guerrier, who formerly worked as part of Richemont marketing services for Piaget, and a serial entrepreneur, Riskers is set to launch to market in October.
Malo le Bot, formerly at Vacheron Constantin and Baume & Mercier, has been given artistic direction responsibility while Alexandre Peraldi, who also worked at Cartier and Baume & Mercier, has been appointed as an artistic advisor. Former Richemont, IP board member, Emmanuel de la Brosse, has also been drafted in to advise on intellectual property matters.
Riskers, in the words of its co-founder and CEO, Pierre Guerrier, has a name which doesn’t reflect immediately a brand but more the group behind the formation of the organisation. Speaking exclusively to WatchPro, Mr Guerrier gave details on just what Riskers as a brand is.
He explains: “Riskers is an adventure and a belief. People are expecting to be treated not only as targets. They still want to dream but not anymore around artificial universes created by marketers who are massively copying themselves. People want more meaning, authenticity and real connections. Riskers will be a possible answer to this aspiration. Riskers’ starting point is a real story.”
He continues: “The idea comes from our common history. I have always been fascinated by the First World War. These ordinary men who had to adapt in front of a terrible danger, a lot of them did more than expected and when I discovered a watch story related to these men, it was like a wink of destiny. Of course some brands have already explored these watches but just through limited editions. The idea was to dedicate a brand to celebrate ordinary men taking risks for others.”
The co-founder went on to explain that the brand is not necessarily about celebrating the past and a war for that matter, but about celebrating the starting point for good stories that can arise from that situation. All involved are keen to celebrate the risks taken by people all around the world each day and put that into the watches it creates.
Starting a fresh watch brand is always difficult and, of course, that is reflected in the name, it is a risk.
However, doing so with a vast and in-depth industry knowledge is always going to be helpful in any market and having a plethora of ex-Richemont executives behind the brand will most certainly be an advantage.
On how he will be able to put his industry experience to work, Mr Guerrier discusses: “Richemont is an amazing group where you learn a lot. To sum-up what I learned, I would focus on 3 elements. The evolution of people expectations followed by all the surveys conducted all around the world. The mistake of opportunistic market explorations to meet short term trends, and the development of new watch identity inspired again by the story we want to tell.”
Riskers was founded in January 2018 but, according to its co-founder, it is still only half way to where it is wanting to be.
Looking at the product side of things, Riskers has launched the prototyping with great potential partners and in term of communication, it is clear that it is continuing to work on offering a specific visual angle to people.
Guerrier did confirm that it is currently finalising the launch strategy which has to be adapted after Baselworld – an unexpected event it received an invitation to four weeks before the occasion.
He explains: “Baselworld was for us a great experience. We were a little bit stressed, we were the only ones to have a booth without a product but it was consistent with our state our mind. We want to share our adventure from now and even the brand itself will be about sharing. We were only showing to press and retailers the design of our first watch. The public was invited to discover our universe and the way we are building Riskers.”
The next step for Riskers seems sure to be the launch of the long awaited watch.
If all goes to plan, the team behind the brand is hoping it can launch a pre-order campaign this coming October and use what resources it can before then to ensure the brand has a strong presence across the world.
Commenting on what Mr Guerrier has envisaged the product to look like, he says: “We designed the watch with 3 strong axis. The watch has to be strongly related to the story. So the designer redesigned the original watch. Not like a reproduction but a real interpretation to make it more actual. It means starting from the DNA of the pocket watch and then to see how you imagine to fix it on the wrist.
“Secondly, the watch has to express a single identity in terms of codes. We want again – removing the logo – to see a specific design. And finally, the watch has been created by a team of ex luxury professionals. It means that we paid a great attention to the harmony of the piece and its level of finishes. Even on this challenging price segment.”
He continues: “We are very proud about the result. It is not a revolutionary watch in terms of features or functions. It was not the purpose at all. The watches of the First World War soldiers were not complicated. The wanted to create emotions and the impression that the watch is like a bridge between the past and our current world. We will have 3 products all in limited editions and all telling a specific story about men.”
When coming to market, especially for the first time, Guerrier says he knows that price point is going to be tricky.
Attracting the right consumer will be key to get people on board with investing physically into the brand after a near two year period of work which has gone towards building brand presence and gaining the right position in the market in order to launch the new watch.
“The price is something very important and challenging for us. First we have a duty. If we celebrate ordinary people, then we can be inaccessible in terms of prices. Again consistency and authenticity,” comments Guerrier.
He adds: “We will have two levels of prices: quartz and automatic. The idea would be the have a quartz model below €500 and an automatic one below €1,500. We are still working on it. It is a great challenge considering the luxury design of the watch and the quality we are expecting.”
Taking this into consideration along with how the initial brand message has been received, finding the right market to target with the first product will key, something Guerrier knows and is carefully considering ahead of the launch.
Responding to a question on which specific markets it is planning to target, he replies: “It’s difficult to say at this stage. We were targeting a 100% Kickstarter approach before Baselworld. So was implying to target principally first France and then the USA for the first year. After Baselworld some retailers seem very interested and we are open to build strong partnerships so this approach may evolve.
“Retailers are also seeking new brands and Riskers is a clear option for them. The brand is new but composed of experienced people followed by strong suppliers so, at the end of the day, digital has no boundary. We hope to reach the maximum of Riskers all around the world.”
Despite the clear anticipation from those involved within the brand to get started and start producing and selling watches, it is also very obvious that they do not plan to stop there.
Guerrier views what Riskers has done over the past 15 months as a success so far, but only a starting point.
Looking ahead at the next three to five years, he says: “We have a lot of ideas and desires. On the watch segment, each new model will be a new Riskers life story focusing on the past and the present. So why not explore the future?”
He concludes: “We have also many others ideas of development in terms of products but also distribution, but again, we want to proceed step by step and always asking ourselves how we can convey our universe to a wider audience while still being consistent.”