I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Simone several times during international fairs and events. A serious woman of substance and success, she is a role model to young women entrepreneurs in a men dominated sector.
Simone, we met you last year and discussed the novelties of that time. Now in 2016, after SIHH and Basel took place, what watches caught your attention at each of those fairs and why?
At the SIHH this year, I admired the new colorful collection of the Men Diver Audemars Piguet watches launched in 4 colors, yellow, blue, orange and green. I was very happy to see this provocative and different collection, which will most probably be a best seller.
Montblanc also launched an amazing new watch collection Heritage, a strong and sophisticated design on the wrist with a classical and timeless interpretation of the moon phase and date.
On the other hand, at Baselworld last month, I saw the new collections of Hublot in which new colors for the ladies Big Bang 41 mm were launched as well as an impressive sapphire timepiece for men.
Breitling also launched a new collection, where my favorites were The Avenger Hurricane, a compendium of boldness, innovation and performance, as well as the Superocean Héritage, an exceptional 100-piece limited-edition, improving user friendliness but also rating regularity and thus precision.
I also had the chance to discover the new collection launched by Omega, as my favorite remains the Speedmaster Grey Side of The Moon “Météorite”, a real piece of space that you can wear on your wrist.
As for Bomberg, it launched an amazing Skull Bracelet Collection inspired by skulls, denim and studs following the vision of Rick Delacroix, Chairman and Founder of Bomberg.
We saw a lot of brands having the blue dial in their watches, and the return of the yellow gold with Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, what can you tell us about this?
The blue Dial 39 mm extra thin model, boutique edition, is manufactured in stainless steel and pink gold. The blue dial is very hard to produce which makes this color rare to find and hardly accessible. The new perpetual calendar in pink gold and the new yellow gold timepieces are also available with a blue dial as well. I am very excited to receive the first pieces of the yellow gold watches, as I believe that they will be a worldwide hit. Audemars Piguet has been the trendsetter in their choice of material and combination of different material in their watches whether with the use of titanium few years back, the black carbon and ceramics, the bicolor launches from last year and the yellow gold this year.
What are the trends that we will expect to see in 2016?
The watch industry has been working hard the past year on finding new technologies to create harder, stronger material when it comes to scratches and combinations of different materials that can improve the quality and esthetics of watches. From what I have seen till now in the new launches, 2016 trends are based on colors, nice diamond settings for ladies, new materials and colors for men, and adding new ranges within same older best-sellers. This definitely gives clients more choices to renew models they already liked.
How do you forecast this year for the Lebanese market? Since last year despite the economic challenges, certain brands maintained their sales growth.
The Lebanese market remains very unpredictable, influenced by the current political and economic situations surrounding us. I strongly believe that the watch market will not experience a real drop unlike other luxury fields in the market such as clothing or accessories, as watches are items that have a solid value and the value of the watch remains high after purchase and use. This is the case specifically with High End Luxury watch brands that have fought throughout the years to settle in the watch market, with a respectful strategy and a well-known consistency in their image. Despite all the economic challenges, we respect the brand image of all the brands we work with and this is what maintains the loyalty of our clients and attracts newcomers to our boutiques as they know that the value of any item bought won’t change due to promotions or liquidation.
Today, what can we find under the roof of Tamer Group? And any plans to extend product lines?
Today we represent Audemars Piguet, Hublot, Breitling, Omega, Montblanc, Bomberg, Swatch and Flik Flak within our range of products in the Watches and Luxury department. We are planning new Boutique openings this year and we are very keen on investing in a healthy manner despite all challenges.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as simple. I like colors, without mixing a lot together. In fact, my favorite outfit would be a nice light-color t-shirt, blue jeans and a dark blazer with dark shoes that match, and a big watch on my wrist. I love to add small jewellery pieces to my daily outfits that are trendy but very simple and elegant.
Are you a person that follows fashion trends or you go for what suits you?
I choose from the fashion trends what suits me best. I simply refuse to wear something that will look not elegant only because it is today’s trend. I follow the right trends and choose what I would love to wear since it fits me well. I am very much into online shopping too, I find it very practical and less time consuming.
The face of fashion is changing nowadays with the hype of social media, to what extent social media plays a role in your life and do you think this tool of mass communication delivers well for luxury brands?
Social media plays a big role in my business as I use it mainly for benchmarking, information search and analysis too. As for my personal life, I consider myself someone who uses social media a lot, as it is today one of the easiest ways to communicate and to look for new upcoming trends. It is also the most efficient and cost effective way for brands to reach trendsetters nowadays, we certainly cannot deny this. It surely delivers well to luxury brands but I remain very reserved concerning this subject, because we might be starting to lose the touch and feel of products, the experience that the luxury boutiques can offer with the extended services and personalized one-to-one experiences that we miss when visiting websites or pages. Also, according to our new findings in our boutiques, through buying behavior statistics, a dramatic change is on the rise where people request to have pictures of the items sent through communication application in order to choose and check products before buying them.
I know you’re a fan of couture, and since this is our couture issue, would you name some of your favorite couturiers and why?
I remain a great fan of Elie Saab because despite all challenges he had to go through, he was able to reach the highest peaks of notoriety that any Lebanese designer could ever reach, in terms of brand name, perfect locations for his stores, a product like no other, brand perception and product quality. He understands the woman’s body and offers a collection that suits elegantly all the aspects and features of it. On top of proving to have a great talent, he is also a great person… Fame and international exposure did not alter his personality. I have also great respect for Zuhair Murad, I admire his collections, his character and all the great goals he is able to reach despite the local challenges.
What’s next for you, your objectives for this year?
For this year we will be working on new structure methods, as well as a strategy to adapt fast to the market needs, changes and challenges in order to always serve our clients in the best possible way.
Interviewed by Lara Mansour Sawaya