A luxury shopping mall, just minutes from the magnificent Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Moscow, is home to Louis Moinet’s first ever own-name store. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in October and, in the words of CEO Jean-Marie Schaller, was “an opportunity to assert our presence and set the ball rolling.”

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The brand had good reason to choose Russia, given that Russians snap up almost a third of the 500 watches that leave Ateliers Louis Moinet in Saint-Blaise, Switzerland, each year. “Certain of our products have really caught their eye, whether they make their purchase in Russia or while traveling,” commented Jean-Marie Schaller, “and we can thank them for it.” He believes that the rarity of the brand’s watches, produced as limited editions of between 12 and 60 pieces, is one of the reasons they appeal so strongly to a clientele with increasingly high expectations.

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Russian customers are educated about watches now. They negotiate prices and are no longer willing to pay over the odds for just anything.

Gevont Manukyan

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Out of the ordinary

It’s an opinion shared by Gevont Manukyan, founding-partner of Rich Time Group, Louis Moinet’s partner and distributor in Russia which will manage the new luxury store: “Russian customers are educated about watches now. They negotiate prices and are no longer willing to pay over the odds for just anything.” The only way to stand out in an increasingly crowded sector vying for the attention of the same number of customers is through a portfolio of “exclusive brands and boutiques, and timepieces that are anything but ordinary,” as Jak Bakkura, President of Rich Time Group, explains.

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He came up with the idea of presenting the Louis Moinet store in Moscow more as a museum than a conventional point of sale, thereby distinguishing the brand from the competition. “I suggested the chess theme to Jean-Marie and he approved. There isn’t a boutique anywhere in the world like it,” he says.

Women and space

The luxury market has bounced back in recent months and the brand intends to profit from this thanks to the new store with its distinctive decor, products which, says Jean-Marie Schaller, combine “original mechanisms with a recognisable style”, and three watch models from the Treasure of the World collection – Russian Saga, Metropolis Moscow and Russian Eagle Flight – that are exclusive to the Moscow store.

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Jean-Marie Schaller, who aims to “introduce new concepts to the Russian market that will stimulate customers’ interest in the two years to come”, believes there aren’t enough styles made specifically for women and will be putting ladies’ watches at the heart of the brand’s strategy for 2018. For the time being, though, he can pride himself on having met Alexei Leonov, the first person to have walked in space, in 1965, and more particularly on reaching an agreement with the cosmonaut to produce luxury watches that will bear his name. Two models will be issued in 2018 and are certain to appeal to both collectors and the Russian public who remain proud of their Soviet predecessors’ exploits in space.

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