updated 9 Jan 2010, 22:09
    Powered by
user id password
Thu, Nov 26, 2009
The Star/ANN
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Crafted to please

HOW would you choose a watch? Would it be for its functionality or its aesthetic beauty? President of watch-making company Mido, Franz Linder, likened choosing a watch to picking a car. One may choose to own a Volkswagen or a Lamborghini – it’s all a matter of personal choice and taste. Of course, it also depends on one’s budget. But it doesn’t really matter, said Linder, as long as you get more bang for the buck.

“I never recommend a watch to a person,” he said. “I think a watch should be something you’re happy to wear on your wrist. Some people like to have very expensive watches, which can be very good value for money. But I think the price means nothing; it’s always a matter of value for money.”

Linder was recently in Kuala Lumpur to introduce Mido’s new collection, which includes new watches for its All Dial, Multifort and Baroncelli lines. Mido’s analogue watches cost up to RM4,000 ($1642), while its chronograph watches go up to RM7,500 ($3079). Its limited editions can cost RM18,000 ($7389).

"There are watches in Switzerland which are really outstanding, handcrafted and a lot of work goes into them,” said Linder. “And they cost a lot of money, easily up to hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs. Mido is very good value for money too but, as we produce in bigger quantities, we can make them at very affordable prices.”

Then, there’s the timeless question about luxury versus functionality. What would justify spending so much on a watch that basically functions to tell time, when today’s mobile phones can easily double as watches as well?

“When mobile phones became popular, everybody thought it would be very bad for the watch business,” explained Linder. “But it’s not true. The opposite happened. You don’t buy a watch primarily for telling time. I think especially for men, it’s the most personal item you have. You can change your clothes or your shoes, but your watch remains very personal and reflects your character. So, people buy watches for the emotional aspect and the beauty, rather than just for the time function.”

Linder admitted that he isn’t into collecting watches, but that he doesn’t discourage collecting either.

“It’s nice to collect watches,” he said. “But I think, like how you collect other things like art, it’s a pity to buy a masterpiece only to put it in your safe. If you’re a collector of watches, you should use them once in a while, in order to enjoy the beauty of the products.”

Personally, Linder prefers what he calls “pure designs”.

“Not only for watches, but in general,” he said. “The same goes for my taste in furniture, clothing, cars. I’m not a follower of fashion, but I tend to go for pure and timeless designs in all aspects.”

His favourite Mido watch, he said, is the All Dial Diver.

“This is a watch that has very strong character, very pure, and I just think it’s a very outstanding product,” he said.

Linder joined the company 14 years ago as a sales manager. Today, as president, he feels that he can shape the brand according to his personal tastes, and that makes the job interesting.

“When I started, we had a mix of a lot of products,” he said. “The philosophy we have today is very much in line with the philosophy we had for decades. And I would say that in the 1980s or 90s, which were the more difficult years, there were a lot of different styles. The brand lost a little bit of focus and personality, and now we have shaped it back to give it the personality it deserves.”

That personality, he said, revolves around timelessness and longevity, creating products that last a long time.

“If you buy a Mido watch now, most probably in five or eight years, that same watch would still be displayed in a store and would probably cost more,” said Linder. “It’s not like you buy it now and the next year it will be discounted somewhere and new models will appear.”

Linder feels the worst thing a business could do is to follow trends, which he feels compromises what a brand stands for, apart from making products that go out of fashion.

“Of course, even though Mido produces timeless watches, we also get influenced by trends,” said Linder. “But we don’t jump from one opportunity to another one. If watch sizes become bigger, Mido watches would also probably become a bit larger. And in fact, in the past we have had watches with bigger diameters. But we have a mission and it is long-term.”

He also feels that in the last few years, Swiss watch-making has been going back to its roots, veering towards a more traditional direction.

“During the watch boom, some brands started making fancy products, but they really didn’t offer much (in the products themselves),” he elaborated. “It was more a marketing gimmick. I think today, customers are more cautious about what they buy and more concerned whether the products are really worth their money. There are traditional Swiss brands with long histories that do high-class watch-making. They are expensive but worth the price, whereas during the boom, some brands made only ‘bling bling watches’.”

He attributed the change to a shift in the economy. Previously, when people’s purchasing power increased, they could afford anything that was hyped and deemed a hot item. But he said consumers are now more concerned about what they should spend their money on.

But more than just running a business, Linder feels his job is also like any other creative endeavours. He would sit and discuss new ideas with his product manager. Sometimes, the discussions are fruitful, and other times they amount to nothing. Inspiration can come in the blink of an eye, or not at all.

“There are not many businesses which are so ‘emotional’,” he said. “The privilege that we have in the watch business is that we can make ‘emotional’ products. This is what I like and why I still like my job. Everyday I get to think about new products, about how to further develop the brand. It’s more than just making a product and selling it. You really have an emotional link to it.”

more: watches
readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.