Four questions to Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO Bulgari
During Baselworld 2019, Bulgari challenged once again the watchmaking industry and won hands-down when it revealed the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph.
Rather than considering it a range extender, I would consider it an unexpected take on the standard chronograph instead, and a jab to most Swiss watchmakers that keep offering an old formula, whether you love the Octo Finissimo or not at all. During those days, we sat down with Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, and talked style, product, and service.
Talking icons in watchmaking, we can't deny some of them took years to be successful, the Nautilus being a remarkable example. Conversely, it seems the Octo Finissimo has a huge following already.
In less than a five-year time, the Octo Finissimo has opened a new chapter in the modern sports watches' business. Style, fashion, usability have dramatically evolved, and so have the consumer and luxury products we currently use. The Octo Finissimo is a trend-setter that reflects modern society, whereas other luxury brands and their products still embody the 20th century's culture.
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a game-changer, highly valued for superior versatility and functional style, other than its extraordinary engineering. Carbon, titanium, sandblasted gold: in an Octo Finissimo refined sophistication wins over glittering luxury, and you buy one to please yourself not just as a show-off.
The Octo Finissimo's offering is wide, is there any room for a divers' watch too?
That is the type of question I would expect, given that Italians are crazy for divers' watches. In our case, we have an advantage because it is easier to grow your watch throughout when you're initially slim, rather than growing an already large watch, out.
The Octo Finissimo's platform came out as a base model to allow more sporty variants along the way: the GMT chronograph is the first outcome. However, the Octo's success builds on powerful aesthetics and product consistency, by using one material on each watch and moving forward carefully, one step at a time.
To answer your question, making a divers' watch is feasible, but making an Octo Finissimo divers' watch is a difficult task in that you need to preserve the product's DNA while re-engineering the dial for functional purposes, for example. Currently not the priority, in our roadmap.
If we compare watches for him to those for her, it seems the Octo Finissimo is geared towards men almost exclusively.
The Finissimo is 40mm wide, suited for women but preferred by men, in our opinion. The truth is that we are not 100% sure of who's wearing an Octo Finissimo, considering that a woman who's stepping into our boutique might be buying the watch as a gift to her boyfriend, or the other way round. We're not able to breakdown our sales by gender, to date.
What I can affirm instead is that, given the Octo also comes on a leather strap, it is a woman's favorite choice, usually. More options are underway that offer a strap instead in replacement of solid metal or ceramic bracelets.
Regarding Customer Service, watch brands are investing a lot in customer experience, which is your approach and how you're managing an Octo Finissimo Gold's buying experience, for example.
We aim at building a lasting relationship with every potential customer that crosses over our boutique's door, up-front, by making his or her experience as rewarding and effortless as possible. It is no different whether that person is looking for a steel or gold Octo. Also, we developed a refined CRM platform, whose algorithm suggests, for example, when and how to contact the customer.
Nonetheless, artificial intelligence is paired with human CRM, guaranteed by our soft-skilled boutique staff whose experience helps improve machine learning, based on the outcome of one-to-one interactions with each customer.
(Photo credit: Peter Tung for Horbiter®, Watchonista)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®