A newcomer to the world of watches, Bomberg, which was launched in 2012 in Neuchâtel – the cradle of the Swiss watchmaking industry – has seen rapid growth, especially in the region. “Day & Night” magazine speaks to Jacques Tedeschi, Middle East Director, Bomberg, on what is it that is so different about the brand and its plans for the future
Can you tell us what Bomberg’s highlight is for this year?
It has been a very good year; we have a lot of novelties that will come out in the end of September. We are now bringing out ladies’ watches; this is new to us. We are also introducing a new system in which you can change the strap of your watch by yourself. You can just go to the shop, buy a strap you like, and then change it yourself.
How difficult was it to enter the ladies’ watch segment, especially as Bomberg has a very masculine kind of an appeal?
We came up with a new line of watches that is a pair – ladies’ and men’s watches. It was a trial on our part but it was very successful. The ladies, of course, were interested; when it is a pair of watches, then corporates in the Middle East are very interested. Companies like the idea of a pair of watches; for many years, corporates based in the Arab countries have been asking us to make matching ladies’ and men’s watches and so we decided to make it.
It is difficult to come up with new ideas, Rick De La Croix, Chairman of Bomberg, came up with this idea of a new line, not the BOLT, but a new line of the 1968 collection. It is thinner, and the main advantage is that you can change the straps yourself in a few seconds. This makes it seem a new watch; with four straps, you seem to have four different watches.
Can you tell us about the new motorbike accessories that you have launched recently?
We have launched a new line of motorbike accessories, which has been very successful especially in the Middle East and Latin America.
Where did the idea come from? And how has the feedback been as it is a very niche market?
It was Rick who came up with this idea. It is a very niche market, but also completely different as we have come up with a necklace, ring, and cufflinks – a set for men. We saw in the Baselworld that people didn’t just buy the cufflinks or the ring alone, but bought the whole set.
How has the reception in terms of sales for the Skully bracelets that you launched last year been?
The reception was very good. It was a limited edition, of skull cufflinks and bracelets. Without mentioning any specific city, I can tell you that it was very well received all across the Middle East. Retailers, initially, ordered only a small number but since it sold out rapidly, we received a number of additional orders.
Earlier, you felt that Bomberg lacked watches for females. As that is coming through in September, what do you think is Bomberg’s lacuna now?
We need to have a good stock. Last year, we had a number of people ordering at Baselworld, but we could not deliver on time as we had some issues with our stock. We do not want to repeat this mistake. From now, when we come to Baselworld, we will come well-prepared so that we can definitely deliver on our Baselworld orders after two months. Rick is coming over soon and I will see all of our collection then.
Can you tell us about your Special Editions, as some of them like the Falcon and the Samurai have been very popular?
They are still very popular; we still receive orders for Samurai, Vegas, and Gambler. We never thought that the Vegas and Gambler editions would sell well in the Middle East, but they have been selling very well. When I was here in April, I saw the sales reports and realised that they were selling so well that stocks were running low; they had to place new orders.
Are we going to see an increase in the future in the special editions, which Bomberg has, in recent times, slowed down on?
Yes, there will be an increase in our special editions from now on.
Would this be market-oriented?
No, these would be world over.
How hard was it to launch the Bomberg brand in 2012, when the market was in such turmoil?
It was quite hard in the beginning, but if we look at the Middle East and Latin America, I have good relationships with our partners here and Rick has the same with dealers in Latin America. This was of so much help to us in establishing our markets.
How did Rick have the time to manage all of this?
He is a fantastic person; he is always rushing around, getting in and out of planes. He also works closely with Hublot. He will shortly be celebrating his 50th birthday; I saw him three weeks ago, and he said, “I just pray that I will be the same as you at your age or even ten years earlier. How do you manage to do it?” I answered that it was my temperament; if I stop, I am finished. The reason I am able to manage so well is that I maintain my relationships. I answer to my retailers immediately; if they need some spare parts urgently, I send them out the same day. They really appreciate this, they are happy and so are their clients. It is good for us, and for them.
A few months ago, a client had a problem with his strap. It was not really a problem, but we immediately arranged for an exchange free of charge. The retailer was willing to pay for it, but I refused and asked them to give it to the client without charge. The client will be happy and he will appreciate the brand, and he will talk about us. This is something the younger generation does not understand. The watch industry, today, does not understand how to maintain relationships. I know Abdulmagied Ahmed Seddiqi for 38 years; that is a lifetime. If he is travelling when I visit Dubai, even though this feels like home, it is still different. Relationships are very important and you must be very flexible in maintaining them.