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May 5, 2013updated May 07, 2013

Men Are From Mars, Dior Makes Watches Women Want

By Chris Boyle

cd144517m001_ch.fe6a1143827.w300Will Rogers once said, “There are two theories to arguing with a woman.  Neither works.”

Very few of either sex would have much argument with Laurence Nicolas’ stewardship of Dior Horlogerie.  And while the house does offer timepieces for men, women are its focus quite clearly, and in fact ladies’ watches take up about 80 percent of production.

Nicolas is a fan of both men’s and women’s watches, and believes “a woman should have her own watches, and of course her husband’s.”

Laughs aside, the Dior boss is focused on what women want:  “The classical brands are so famous and so good at what they are doing,” she says, referring to their pursuit of the male species timepiece, adding, “I’m not sure I am a fan of just shrinking a man’s watch. If I want a man’s watch I will buy a man’s watch.”

While Nicolas has all the right lines to encourage women to line up for the house’s latest creations (“It’s a luxury for one’s self to know there is this hidden secret.  It’s like the lingerie you are wearing.”), the fact is Dior has come along way in the past decade. “It’s really just 10 years ago we were mainly fashion watches for around $500,” she noted during an interview at Baselworld 2013, which concluded last week.  Today price points are typically five figures and ranging to the $100,000 + category.

The South China Morning Post in its Basel report noted, “Often derided and eyed with suspicion by the more traditional watch specialist ateliers” Dior and several other top fashion houses have “increased their market share spectacularly in recent years and have done so on the back of solidly made watches with eye-catching designs, colors and materials.”

Nicolas points out, it is a long road to gain respect in the closely knit world of watchmaking. “When we decided to enter the segment we understood it takes time to establish credentials,” she said.

While her pursuits benefit from LVMH’s powerful distribution and acumen of its growing stable of sister brands, including Bulgari, Zenith, Tag Heuer and Hublot, Nicolas told Elite Traveler, “We don’t have imposed synergy. From TAG Heuer we use their (state-of-the art) machinery for quality testing.  Zenith we have used for movements.   Our choice is not, ‘are they in the group.’  It’s are they the best?”

Or as James Thurber might have replied, “Women are wiser than men because they know less and understand more.”

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