e recently interviewed a broad selection of managers, active in a variety of segments, to help us identify the major trends within the watch industry.
Our Q&A with Raphael Gübelin – Gübelin.
Europa Star: What are your strategic priorities for 2023?
Raphael Gübelin: Our strategic priorities concern several different facets, as the House of Gübelin stands for the combination of high-end jewellery, gemstone expertise and luxury watch brands, which is unique in the industry. We opened the first TimeVallée boutique in Switzerland, and this year we expect to see an increase in tourism in Lucerne, which also affects the watch business. This flagship store is a commitment to Lucerne, offering both residents and visitors a wide selection of prestigious watch and jewellery brands. In the summer, we will also open a museum in Lucerne to share our fascination for gems with local and international visitors.
Gübelin Jewellery is also an important business, and we invest in gemstones, new creations and artisans. As far as transparency and traceability are concerned, these are very strong trends in the industry. Recently, Provenance Proof launched the first online marketplace for transparently traded gemstones. This year, the Gübelin Gem Lab celebrates its 100th anniversary. As part of our pioneering work in gemmology, we have introduced Gemtelligence to ensure consistency in analyses of coloured gemstones, and to determine the origin of emeralds, rubies and sapphires using artificial intelligence and deep learning. This will be the future of gemmology.
- Raphael Gübelin
Which brands or types of brands do you think have the highest potential for growth this year?
We’re seeing growth in jewellery sales, and expect demand to continue. The jewellery industry has grown significantly in recent years. Gübelin Jewellery will be launching a variety of new creations throughout the year, ranging from unique haute joaillerie pieces to additions to existing lines. Coloured gemstones are becoming more and more important. People are also looking for gemstones to diversify their portfolios, and invest in assets that have been prized for centuries. Important creations from Gübelin Jewellery come with gemmological reports and Gübelin Points for guidance and comparability.
When it comes to watches, luxury watches in particular are very popular among both veteran collectors and the younger generations. Patek Philippe, Hublot, Panerai, Parmigiani Fleurier and Zenith are in high demand. Generally, sustainability is an important consideration, particularly for younger customers, who appreciate the sustainability and craftsmanship of mechanical watches. These pieces are made to last and to be handed down.
The emergence of the secondary market represents a major new development. Are you taking any steps to build a presence in preowned?
The House of Gübelin has a subsidiary called Edigem which has specialised in vintage jewellery and precious gems for over 40 years. We have decades of experience in this field and have established a world-wide network. This gives us the ability and credibility to cater to the needs of clients searching for particularly desirable pieces. Edigem focuses on vintage jewellery, but it also offers watches. If you would like to sell a piece and it meets our criteria, we buy it and you will get money directly.
You see, the secondary market is nothing new to us. What is new is that the TimeVallée boutique Lucerne also partners with Watchfinder & Co. for premium pre-owned watches. The secondary market shows the strength of the current interest in watches and jewellery. Vintage pieces in particular are interesting for connoisseurs and collectors wishing to complete their collections or express their personal style.