Jean-Christophe Babin is living a luxury watch lover’s dream. The former CEO of Tag Heuer and present Bulgari CEO mans the helm of one of the world’s most coveted brands, one that has been synonymous with wealth and decadent luxury for over 100 years. In a recent interview with The Australian, Babin revealed his plans for Bulgari, which include expanding the scope of the legendary name in the international watch market.
One of Babin’s major goals these days is to broaden the base of the Bulgari brand. “We want to increase the base of the brand because today we are truly global and my goal is to speed up the company’s growth,” he told The Australian. “And the speed of company growth lies in products priced in a range from €1000 to €15,000 ($1,200 to $18,500).”
A part of increasing the reach of Bulgari is the brand new Diva jewelry collection, which while definitely not cheap costume junk is not nearly as pricey as most Bulgari items. Examples are a diamond with mother of pearl pendant for $2,690, rings of onyx with mother of pearl for $2,970 and a bracelet selling for $3,620.
Babin’s history with Tag Heuer has given him a love for fine timepieces, which is expressed in the Lucea line of watches for women. “Yes, we are a jeweler. We have the Italian DNA, which means we’re very much about design. But over the last four years we have built a very sophisticated base for manufacturing watches in Switzerland.”
Babin has plans to put that base to good use. While Bulgari has been creating watches since the 1970s debut of the Bulgari Bulgari line, Babin intends to expand the name into less costly pieces. “We want to be a really major competitor in the mainstream segment,” Babin explained. “The Bulgari Bulgari watch is a fantastic pillar but it is a logo watch. That attracts some people, sure, but others want to be discreet. With Lucea we are introducing a non-logo watch that is still very Bulgari because of its strong character and powerful design.”
Not surprisingly, Babin has maintained his interest in how fine watches are made. “When I came to the company a year ago I was very curious to see Bulgari’s watch manufacturing operation,” Babin stated. “You know, it’s very similar to Tag Heuer, even though the scale is different. Tag Heuer is one of the world’s leading watch brands, so obviously everything has been sized to produce around 700,000 watches a year. Bulgari is smaller but state-of-the-art, like the case-making factory we have in Le Sentier (Switzerland). We have less machines, but the process is very similar. The know-how is extremely good.”
Babin emphasized watches and jewelry as being prime areas of interest for the Bulgari brand in the future and expressed his intent to “address different consumer groups.” Could this mean we’ll be seeing a younger, hipper Bulgari in the future?