Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Rénier On The House’s Timeless Approach To Watchmaking

Lindsay Judge   |   16-03-2024

Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the few watch brands with almost two centuries of history.

Its unique approach to craftsmanship and design has allowed the watchmaker to create watches that transcend generations and continue to push the boundaries of craftsmanship. Leading the brand from its home in Vallée de Joux, CEO Catherine Rénier is tasked with preserving the brands relentlessly inventive spirit. Harnessing 190 years of accumulated expertise, the brands watchmakers design, produce, finish and ornament the most advanced and precise mechanisms, blending passion with centuries-old savoir-faire, linking the past to the future, timeless but always up with the times. With 180 skills brought together under one roof, the Manufacture creates fine timepieces that combine technical ingenuity with aesthetic beauty and a distinctively understated sophistication. Here, we find out whats on the horizon for the brand as it continues to push the boundaries of creativity. 

Tell us about the vision and direction for 2024 at Jaeger-LeCoultre 

For 2024 and beyond, our vision is deeply rooted in our nearly 191 years of history as pioneers in the Swiss watchmaking industry. We will continue this rich legacy by innovating and creating the luxury watchmaking masterpieces of tomorrow. As I often emphasise, our greatness resides within, incarnated by our watchmakers who bring together 180 different skills under one roof.

After having hosted the Reverso Stories exhibition in New York in November 2023, we are looking forward to celebrating the inauguration of our Flagship Boutique there in early 2024. Anticipation builds for Watches and Wonders 2024, where our commitment to innovation shines through the development of captivating new products and complications. As our events and exhibitions, linked to our yearly thematic, will travel around the world, each of them promises new experiences, stories and creations.

Our boutiques will also remain pivotal spaces where clients can delve deep into Jaeger-LeCoultres universe, experiencing firsthand the fusion of innovation, craftsmanship, and the rich history that defines our Maison.

What can you tell us about Jaeger-LeCoultre in the Middle East? 

Jaeger-LeCoultre is on an exciting journey in the Middle East. A prime example is the Steller Odyssey Exhibition, which commenced its global tour in Dubai back in February 2023. We invited visitors to embark on a journey through time and space, celebrating the relationship between astronomical phenomena and the measurement of time.  

Looking ahead, we are committed to the Middle East and establishing meaningful connections with discerning high-end collectors and consumers. Our goal is not just to showcase timepieces but to create an immersive experience that allows the people of the Middle East to truly delve into the soul of the Maison and discover high watchmaking.

We have exciting plans to bring two captivating events to Dubai in 2024, showcasing this years novelties. Additionally, we are gearing up to renovate our flagship boutique in Dubai Mall, as we are always seeking to enhance in-store experiences. The Middle East holds a special place in our journey, and as we continue to explore and innovate, we’re thrilled to share more captivating moments with this dynamic community.

What else do you have coming up this year that you can share with us?

This year is filled with exciting initiatives and activations in the Jaeger-LeCoultre universe. First and foremost, Watches & Wonders 2024, where our commitment to innovation is combined with new artistic collaborations and immersive experiences. In addition, keep an eye out for the transformation of our flagship boutique in New York – a project that promises to redefine the luxury retail experience. Followed by the renovation of our Dubai Mall boutique. Our events and exhibitions are set to travel around the world, promising new and fresh experiences, intriguing stories and upcoming Made of Makers announcements.

The industry has seen a lot of changes over the past few years – how would you assess the landscape of watchmaking today, and where do you think it is heading? 

The watchmaking industry is experiencing a dynamic shift driven by changing consumer preferences and a renewed emphasis on craftsmanship and heritage. Today, we find ourselves in an era where the interplay between tradition and innovation, craftsmanship and technology, and a commitment to sustainability harmoniously coexist. We see an industry characterised by great creativity and perpetual evolution. There appears to be a discernible enthusiasm for everything the watch embodies. This eagerness encompasses innovation, engineering prowess and refined craftsmanship. The watch, as an object, holds significance in its technical intricacies, artisanal excellence and rich heritage. I am certain that in the foreseeable future, this dimension will remain fertile ground for fueling the interest of our customers.

In this ever-evolving watchmaking ecosystem, at Jaeger-LeCoultre we continue to stand at the forefront, navigating these changes with a careful balance of tradition and innovation. Our commitment is reflected in the creation of exceptional timepieces, such as the Reverso, an iconic piece that transcends eras and serves as a testament to our dedication to both legacy and modern advancements.

How important do physical boutiques remain to you as a brand? 

In today’s landscape, where watch enthusiasts are well-informed and have various avenues to explore different brands, our boutiques serve as essential touchpoints. They go beyond being mere retail spaces; they are portals to the heart of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s universe. When clients step into our boutique, it is a signal that they are seeking a deeper connection with our Maison. It enables us to showcase, not just our timepieces, but truly immerse our visitors in our innovation, craftsmanship, heritage, the intricacies of our calibres and the infinite possibilities of personalization.

We aim to bring a piece of the Manufacture experience to our boutiques, providing a unique environment where clients can explore, learn, and engage. Constantly evolving and offering diverse experiences, our boutiques ensure there is always something new and captivating for every visitor.

How do you connect with your customers and ensure you are creating special moments for them?

Connecting with our customers is not just about selling watches; it is about sharing the rich tapestry of our legacy and craftsmanship that spans 191 years. As the ‘Watchmaker of Watchmakers,’ customers are drawn to Jaeger-LeCoultre for our unparalleled reputation and heritage. Since 1833, we have been crafting movements and calibres, a tradition that speaks to our commitment to excellence.

Our watches are more than just accessories; they are personal statements. Take the Reverso, for example, a timepiece that carries so much history. You simply look at it, and it transports you back to India to Polo and the 1930s Art Deco era. We strive to strike a balance between art, design, style, and technological innovation in all of our creations and this unique sense of style is timeless and resonates across generations.

We also recognize the importance of connecting with younger generations as we actively witness and appreciate the renewed interest from this demographic. While technology may dominate daily life through phones and smartwatches, our timepieces offer a deeper, more meaningful relationship – a connection that goes beyond the mere measurement of time.

I believe the key is to continually surprise them, to educate our clients about what we do – sharing the behind-the-scenes and celebrating creativity with multi-sensory exhibitions like the Reverso Storiesas well as through our Made of Makers programme that showcases the different perspectives on how the practices of watchmaking, art and other creative disciplines can bring value to lived experiences. Through these initiatives, we wish to embark our clients on an engaging journey, allowing them to delve into the fascinating story and craftsmanship that defines Jaeger-LeCoultre.

What is something you would still like to achieve at the brand that you have not done yet? 

Our commitment to preserving our craftsmanship, fostering innovation, and cultivating the next generation of watchmakers and artisans is central to our Maison’s ethos and future growth. We have a rich heritage of craftsmanship, and we are dedicated to preserving these traditional skills. This involves not only maintaining our high standards in watchmaking but also continuously rediscovering and reinventing old techniques. We plan to invest in our workshops and facilities to ensure our artisans have the best environment and tools to practice their craft.

The future of watchmaking lies in the hands of the next generation of watchmakers and artisans. We aim to nurture this talent through comprehensive apprenticeship programs, partnerships, and internal training initiatives. By sharing our knowledge and passion, we ensure that the art of fine watchmaking is carried forward with the same dedication and excellence. Our focus is on blending tradition with innovation, nurturing talent, and sharing our journey with authenticity and emotion. These endeavours not only honor our past but also pave the way for a future where Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to be synonymous with excellence in watchmaking.

A message to our readers on what they can expect from JLC moving forward…

As we move forward, at Jaeger-LeCoultre, we remain steadfast in our commitment to delivering unparalleled excellence in watchmaking. Expect a continued journey of heritage and modernity, as we introduce new chapters to our illustrious story. Our dedication to pushing boundaries, both in design and functionality, ensures that every timepiece carries the essence of our legacy while embracing the spirit of the future.