Antonio Seward on Audemars Piguet’s presence in Southeast Asia

Getting all the details right

At the recent grand re-opening of the Audemars Piguet boutique at the Starhill Gallery, Antonio Seward had on his wrist the Royal Oak Jumbo, because, inarguably, “simple is beautiful.” Taking five minutes of his time, the General Manager of Audemars Piguet Southeast Asia talks about the brand and its beautiful products.

On knowing your product
A brand is to excite, but let us not forget that the product is the basis. What you see now, and as it has always been with us, is the combination of traditional design with very modern savoir-faire. Luxury doesn’t have to be completely traditional. In its methods yes, because the quality must be there in terms of the craftsmanship but you have to push the boundaries on everything else. The main thing is that luxury must be exclusive and for watches, handmade. No two ways about that.

On creating emotion in a boutique
First, we want to be different. We want to go beyond the traditional watch store that displays pictures of watchmakers and watches on the walls. We believe that if there’s one common denominator to what we are and everything we do, its the Vallée de Joux, because thats where we’re from. We may be vary daring with our designs but all our watches come from there, from 1875 to where we are today.

As such, the whole idea was to create an experience whereby the customer enters the Vallée de Joux when he steps inside. We wanted that to be a sensorial experience so the wood, the stone the images and videos are all there to achieve this. We want to be close to our customers, which is the main objective of our retail strategy. Hence the convivial, gregarious area (of the bar) in this part of the boutique which we call The House where we can have a glass of champagne in addition to The Manufacture in which resides all the watch displays and watchmaker’s corner.

FEATAntonio-Seward_1On customer relations
The key to a great experience is the people. They need to professional, jovial, familiar to our customers, and have a natural ability to elevate the experience. Simple, but very effective, things such as offering a drink and serving it the proper way. Knowledge, not just about our brand but about the industry. How to compare and understand the customer’s needs, which is how we gain that credibility and trust.

Sometimes its not even about answering questions, you have to ask them as well. Get to know your customer, and you will be better equipped to recommend the right product. Go beyond that even, if you know them then find out how they are or enquire on details of their lives that you may remember. Build a proper relationship with them and make them feel comfortable and at home.

On managing Southeast Asia
There is a beautiful wealth of diversity in the region, from Malaysia to Singapore to Indonesia and other countries here. I love the culture, the food, both enjoying it and how important it is to the culture as well. Some of our customers are high net worth individuals wearing a RM150,000 watch but want nothing more than to go to a food court to satisfy their cravings, and that tells you a lot about how much a part of their lives this authentic Asian cuisine is. I’ve also learned that meals are treated as occasions and meeting points and everybody is used to. I grew up in Europe, so a lot of this was new to me. I feel like the state of mind there is more conservative whereas here there seems to be a focus on looking ahead and daring to be different. It’s been a fascinating journey so far.

Audemars Piguet

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