MrWatchMaster Meets…Patrick Pruniaux

MrWatchMaster Meets…Patrick Pruniaux

Next we meet Patrick Pruniaux, President & CEO of Ulysse Nardin & Girard-Perregaux, a former TAG Heuer executive who was responsible for launching the Apple Watch in the UK.

Over his 20-year career, Patrick has extensive experience in working with some of the most well-known brands including, Moët Hennessy, TAG Heuer and Apple. We are delighted to share his thoughts and views on business and the future direction for the Ulysse Nardin & Girard-Perregaux brands.

MWM: How is business? 

PP: These past few months have certainly not been the easiest for anyone in the watch industry, or indeed most industries full stop.  

That being said, we have found opportunities amidst this tricky period to work more closely and inclusively with our retailers, develop our presence in the digital sphere in particular, and in doing so, have increased both brands’ visibility.  

This time has also allowed us to be more introspective. Where we needed to, we have consolidated our resources. We focused on our priorities, the respective brand values of GP and UN, and ways forward in 2021. This is already bearing fruit for us, for instance with recent product launches and the very positive feedback we received. Among other indicators, this shows we are heading in the right direction. 

MWM: What are you currently working on? 

PP: As I said, digital has significantly accelerated in importance for us over a short period. Ulysse Nardin has taken the e-commerce leap last June 2020 and Girard Perregaux will follow the same path soon. I consider e-commerce as an additional factor that will generate more drive to store, to both retailers’ shops and our boutiques, for personalised advice. This is definitely a step forward to helping our retailers increase their notoriety and ours at the same time.  

We are similarly working on developing customer experience in the larger sense, for example by rolling out revamped PoS concepts and a new manufacture experience at the GP villa as of 2021, our 230th anniversary year. This is a crucial milestone for which sharing the best of our ateliers, museums and archives will play a crucial role.

MWM: Tell us something we don’t know about Ulysse Nardin & Girard-Perregaux watches? 

PP: Many people are still not aware of our extensive history of technical achievement. For instance, Girard-Perregaux was a pioneer for high frequency, setting the worldwide standard for quartz movement frequency.  

Furthermore, ours is one of the first manufactures to have an in-house R&D department. Innovation with the use of silicon (balances, escapements, etc) as seen in our recent launch of the Free Bridge for example is another one of our signature shared capabilities with UN.  

Synergies between both brands have become more important for us particularly since combining some of our manufacturing capabilities back in 2019. 

MWM: Which watch do you wear? 

PP: At the moment, I am wearing a Free Bridge Infinity Edition, which we launched back in August for the Geneva Watch Days. Not only is this watch a new entry point for clients into the Bridges line, but this particular limited edition also highlights GP’s craftsmanship, displaying expertly machined onyx plates and the first neo-Bridge made of rose gold. At the weekend, you can also find me wearing the new Ulysse Nardin Diver NET, a concept watch we have launched last November, made of discarded, recycled fishing nets sourced in Le Conquet harbor, France. Our goals are to getas close to perfection as we can, without forgetting that one of the most important aspects of our timepieces is sustainability. 

Weekend Wear: Ulysse Nardin Diver NET

MWM: Apart from your own brands, which watch would you like to own? 

PP: I admire Max Busser, who is also a friend, and what he has been able to achieve with MB&F. I was particularly taken with the recent collaboration they put out with H. Moser & Cie. 

MWM: What do you like best about the Watch business? 

PP: Many aspects are simultaneously at play in this business, but the most compelling for me is the balance we strive for between ancient know-how and a forward-looking vision. This can allow for infinite possibilities. A recent embodiment of this at GP was the Quasar Light, which revisits the Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges and its 160 year ancestry in a totally contemporary way, showcasing a case and even the Neo-Bridges within made entirely of clear sapphire. 

Back To The Future: GP Quasar Light

MWM: What don’t you like about the Watch business? 

PP: Perhaps that I’m the one who is never on time!

Patrick Pruniaux is a Friend of MrWatchMaster

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