This February Jaeger-LeCoultre will reveal an exclusive exhibition in Dubai. The exciting new Stellar Odyssey exhibition will for the first time pay homage to the astronomical phenomena that lie at the origins of time measurement.
The exhibition is an invitation for visitors to discover how the mysteries of the cosmos are translated into micro-mechanical wonders that capture the universe in miniature, in order to tell the time. The story will be told alongside the display of exclusive and remarkable timepieces from the Swiss watchmaker, as well as multi-media installations that will take visitors on a virtual journey to the cosmos. It translates the wonders of the celestial world into art installations and multi-sensory experiences, while the Atelier d’Antoine, named after the Maison’s founder, Antoine LeCoultre, will share watchmaking know-how through hands-on educational workshops based on the Stellar Odyssey theme.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a brand that puts craftsmanship and emotion at the heart of everything it does, and this exhibition will allow the watchmaker to reinforce this value, and share the emotion of watchmaking with guests in the Middle East for the first time. This brand-new exhibition will be located at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, offering residents and tourists alike the perfect opportunity to discover more about this beautiful brand. Here we find out more about what to expect.
We are super excited to have the Stellar Odyssey Exhibition arriving in Dubai – tell us about why you decided to bring it here and what it means for your relationship with clients in the region.
We have wanted to do something on this scale in Dubai for a while and we felt that this exhibition was at the level of execution and content that we want to bring to the region. It is one of the fullest exhibitions that we will run in terms of experience, artistic engagement, storytelling, education etc. and we wanted our first exhibition in Dubai to offer a full experience of what such an exhibition can bring. It is the first time we have had this exhibition anywhere in the world and among the others, we have run previously, I think it tops them in terms of the richness and the wealth of the content it offers. There will be a school of education on watchmaking where visitors can take a class to learn about the celestial meaning in watchmaking. There will be a full retrospective in terms of patrimony, and heritage, and we will deep dive into the relationship between celestial and watchmaking at Jaeger-LeCoultre, so there will be a lot of products displayed. There will be a sensory experience hosted by a mocktail maker who has created drinks around the theme of ‘celestial’ and this is also an amazing way to complement what we bring in terms of technicity and heritage with something that will engage the public, even if they are not passionate about watches. Everyone that visits this exhibition will find something for them, something to learn and fuel their curiosity. Last but not least, there will be a major show with a movie that has been developed specifically for this event to present the celestial inspiration, taking visitors into a very immersive experience. As we always like to bring this artistic dimension, we have worked with French artist Guillaume Marmin who will exhibit a piece that he has made to represent this celestial journey. It’s titled “Passengers: Through Time” and it tells the story of the celestial journey and how we are transported within the cosmos. So we have covered all the senses with this exhibition and there are a lot of ways to bring emotion and knowledge to our visitors. It is a major step for us in sharing our story with the public at large and specifically with those in Dubai.
Will the exhibition travel to other destinations in the world?
Yes, that’s the idea. We have several exhibitions that rotate around the world, this one is very important because of its scale and we hope to be able to take it elsewhere such as Asia and The United States in the coming years. It’s not something we can transport every few months, but the content within it will remain very valid for a long time.
How do you think projects such as these allow you to connect with your customers on a deeper level and help them to understand more about the brand?
In my view, today people don’t need to wear a watch. We no longer buy watches to look at the time, we have our phones for that. So watches have become more like pieces of art and something that brings emotion and passion to the wearer, more than being a useful object. So I believe it’s very important to educate the public on the artistic side of this world and to present them with what we do. They need to feel the emotion of what we do. I am a true believer in the importance of educating the public and creating curiosity around our world. We are very fascinated with our long history and for Jaeger-LeCoultre, we have very deep craftsmanship – we do everything ourselves, and we have made movements for watches for 190 years, so all of that is something that we intend to reveal in a wider way, but not in a museum-like way. We want it to be engaging, we want kids to be happy to go, and we want the public to spend time there as a family. Whether you like watches or you don’t, there is something for everyone to be curious about and something that they will remember long after visiting the exhibition. So it’s really about our opening doors, sharing who we are with the world, educating the public, and sharing something that they will find can touch them in a way. Even if you know nothing about watches you will be wowed by this exhibition for sure. If you are an avid collector who wants to visit, you can also take that path of learning things you probably didn’t know, taking the class about celestial inspiration in watchmaking, and looking at amazing pieces that are seldom out of our museum and galleries. So for anyone, depending on their level of interest, this exhibition is in any case offering education.
How do you manage to keep the craftsmanship alive at Jaeger-LeCoultre, keeping the same standard of excellence and also managing the demand for watches today?
What we have always done at Jaeger-LeCoultre is embark on young generations and apprentices within our craftmanship and watchmaking school. Within our Manufacture, we have a dedicated school for apprentices, to train them in these skills. This way we can develop the next generation of watchmakers. We also do cross-training with our employees, continuously training our teams so they adapt and learn new skills. This makes them very flexible in what they do and how they contribute to the Maison. Education, the new generation and agility in learning, are all part of who we are and what we have been for many decades. In terms of the volume and managing the demand, yes it has been a challenge because we have very limited capacity, so we have been continuing the creativity and challenging ourselves to always bring something new, rather than repeating the same things. So yes, there are some pieces today that are probably hard to get, but at least we continue with novelties, with creativity, and in a way, we select where we sell and how we sell. We have been addressing this point by looking at quality, and creativity, and not falling into a trap of producing a volume that would be very challenging for us to meet with the constraints of the time it takes to create our pieces. And of course, we must keep the exclusivity of our pieces. It takes years for a piece to be developed and created, so the exclusivity comes together with the object and I think it is important to maintain the creativity, to fuel it with new ideas, to bring something new to the table for our clients and to also keep renewing ourselves. We have worked a lot on Reverso for instance, it is the icon of the Maison and it has been there for over 90 years now, but we’ve revamped it, keeping the same sense of identity from the thirties and bringing a new touch of modernity and new colours, new ways of wearing the watch, so we manage to bring this type of creativity to the brand and that’s what we have really been protecting during this recent hype around watchmaking.
What can you tell us about Jaeger-LeCoultre in the Middle East in general and what is in the pipeline for our region?
We are bringing this exhibition to the region now but we’ve been investing in The Middle East for a long time. In the last few years, our investments in the region have been primarily around upgrading our presence through our boutiques, and re-shaping our distribution, and now we feel it is a good time for us in the Middle East. That’s also why it’s a good time to host this exhibition. We have two stores in Dubai, we’ve got a presence in Qatar, in Kuwait, in Saudi Arabia, we’ve been developing a good client base and investing in awareness, so presenting this exhibition now is really saying that we are ready and we want to welcome clients to take a look at the brand.
What else is in the pipeline for 2023 for Jaeger-LeCoultre and what is your vision for this year?
It’s going to be a busy year! We are going to be introducing a lot of novelties throughout the year starting with Watches & Wonders, but there will be a lot of other moments during the year to reveal new pieces. We have a very nice project to start the year around celebrating our heritage. We are working on renovating and restoring vintage pieces from the twenties to the seventies and we will be creating small capsules around these pieces for the public to buy. This is super exciting because it’s a way for us to dive back into the history of the Maison. We’ve got investment happening in major stores, that’s part of who we are. You will see a major flagship opening in New York towards the end of the year. We have new boutiques opening in Europe. We will continue our programmes of partnership with artists, which has been a great success for us in terms of creativity and showcasing all the passion that we have in our work. So we will continue with four new artists in 2023 who will continue to enrich our message and showcase the creativity of the Maison. So there is a lot more to come!
What is the biggest challenge you face today?
Of course, without a doubt, the uncertainty that we have faced over the last three years has created a lot of challenges because you need to be very agile in where you sell, where you allocate the stock that you have etc. so you have to prioritise and that has been quite challenging. It’s very important to get our voice heard and I think we have been very successful with this through our latest campaigns, partnerships and exhibitions, but we need to keep this momentum going and it means that you need to always renew yourself. There is never a moment of rest. As soon as you have a good idea or story, you need to have another one. It’s always onto the next thing and we are always on the move, which is challenging. You need to be very creative and always ahead of your time.
How would you assess the watchmaking industry today as a whole?
I look at it more and more from an artistic standpoint. We went from a necessary object to a technical object and nowadays it’s the technicity together with the art and crafts that go into a piece that gives watchmaking its sense, and that’s really what’s meaningful for our clients. These pieces become moments. Like if you buy a painting or a sculpture, you do it because it makes you happy, or because you want to gift it to someone you care about or to yourself for a special moment in your life. I think this is what we are about, these celebrations and emotions, in the same way, that art can bring emotion. More and more craftsmanship and creativity will make a difference. I think those in watchmaking who are observing what other Maisons do, and in a way repeating what has been done before, they don’t bring the creativity or the emotion and I don’t think that can last. You have to challenge yourself creatively, and you have to bring meaning that is specific to your Maison, to the public, and that’s what we intend to do and how the watch industry will change.
What is a message you would send to our readers as to why they should visit the exhibition and what they can expect to see?
Come and be surprised and touched by the emotion you will get when you visit.
The Stellar Odyssey will be presented from Saturday 4th to Thursday 23rd February 2023 at the Dubai Fountain, Downtown Dubai, open daily from 2:00pm to 12.00 am. Tickets may be booked online at https://online-booking.jaeger-lecoultre.com/domaine/theme12