Omega Revolutionises Retail With Two New Immersive Boutiques in Hong Kong

Omega CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann tells us about Swiss luxury watchmaker’s new retail strategy.

April 25, 2024

I recently travelled to Hong Kong to witness the opening of two Omega boutiques in the city. The Swiss watchmaker rolled out the red carpet to make it a memorable celebration. In attendance were Omega CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann and South Korean actress and brand ambassador, Han So-hee as a special guest. So-hee played a central role during the occasion, taking an exclusive tour of each location, while also appearing on stage at the evening’s event at the penthouse of the Tony H Zentre. She was dressed in a beautiful De Ville Mini Trésor in 18K Moonshine™. 

Situated in the heart of the Queen’s Road Central shopping area, as well as the spectacular dockside K11 Musea, the new boutiques are thoughtfully designed with pure comfort and style in mind, and are new concepts in watch retailing.  Aeschlimann played the perfect host to the guests and personally took Han So-hee through the Queen’s Road Central store, which is distinguished by a spectacular mosaic-style façade, along with an exclusive fourth-floor customer area called ‘The Suite’. This intimate space is artfully decorated with nature-inspired materials and sparkling light fixtures to reflect the beauty of Omega’s Swiss home on Lake Bienne. It has even a movie room where one can relax with a cigar and cognac and may be watch the new 007 movie. 

At the K11 Musea, Aeschlimann and So-hee had the chance to explore the brand’s second new location – a boutique blessed with abundant natural lights and spectacular views across the Victoria Harbour. Together, they presented a special opening ceremony alongside Stephen DeLucchi, the Managing Director of Swatch Group HK. A crowd of 200 had by then waited patiently for couple of hours for a glimpse of the incredibly popular K-Drama star. 

During the day, I also caught up with Aeschlimann for a chat on the new stores, the MoonSwatch’s success and the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Edited excerpts 

1. Take us through what went behind creating the concept stores. 

It is interesting because you call them concept stores. I like it, but these are not concept stores, we wanted to make them different and interesting. When we opened our first store in Zurich 22 years ago, we were the first ones to have a watch-only store. There was nobody in the industry, and till today many brands don’t have stores themselves. It is so important to have your own space in today’s world, especially for the new generation, for the direct contact. Omega is all about customer centricity, and that’s exactly where it started more than two decades ago with the first store. These new stores are an evolution of that journey. This is more about our world. We have the books. We have some watches, not too many, but we have time and the lounges to talk about them. Of course, most people come here to buy a watch, but also a lot of them want to have the experience. As you know, an Omega watch is sometimes, besides your house and your car, the most expensive thing you buy. So, it’s about timing in today’s world; after COVID we wanted the stores more like houses where you have watchmakers. But, we are not club Med or a hotel; we have no spa and no massage. This is all about sales but in a different way. We will continue to repeat the concept in some other locations where we feel the vibration; if we find the right the space, the view and the location, that appeal to the new generation customers.  

2. What do you think is the significance of these stores opening, K11 Musea and Queen’s Road Central? 

They are important not only for Hong Kong but for Asia, and for the world. Hong Kong is a vibrant place and for decades known as the perfect destination for luxury shopping. So, it was an obvious choice to start from here.  

3. While your ongoing collaboration with James Bond keeps the Seamaster line vibrant, the Seamaster Aqua Terra range is also gaining traction in a new market segment. How do you characterise the Seamaster’s evolution as it celebrates its 75th anniversary?

We are quite unique. We are a mono-brand but are a multi-product brand, which is not always easy to work with. We have a consumer for the Constellation line; it is not the same for our Seamaster and Speedmaster lines. The whole diversity is a good point but on the other side your question is – what to push? So we try to do is continue to evolve them with their values and their spirit, and also to make them universal. When I took over as the CEO, I realised that the Seamaster had big potential. Because as you said, from Aqua Terra to the Seamaster Planet Ocean, we saw the big potential of growing this line, besides Constellation and Speedmaster. This new line, Summer Blue collection, that we showcased in Mykonos to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the iconic line saw the whole collection in a single colour palette with watches that are water resistant upto depths of 150m, 300m to 6000m. So, presenting them as one portfolio under the theme “Precision at Every Level” was very meaningful in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the line.  

Seamaster will be in the top 10 of the watch industry if it would be an independent brand. Seamaster is very successful in China, so it is in the Anglo-Saxon countries from Australia to USA. To be among the top 10 bestsellers in the watch industry, more or less everywhere people must feel the same energy like the James Bond about the collection. 

omega seamaster
Omega’s Seamaster family of watches

4. How is Omega’s Aqua Terra line growing? 

Aqua Terra is growing. It could grow much faster if the dial manufacturers kept up with supply as per demand. All the models are doing very well, from the basic models to the Worldtimer that is so successful, it’s sold to the ladies and the men. It’s probably the most elegant Seamaster we have.  

5. Omega no longer participates in large format watch fairs like Watches and Wonders and organises private events to reach out to trade and media. How effective has this strategy been and there any plans to return to large-scale exhibitions in the future?

A large format fair is only one of many options in a world where it’s never been easier to make personal contact with fans and collectors. Social media and e-commerce made it possible for us to build two-way relationships with open dialogue and feedback. Our strategy now is to communicate directly on specific launches, within a specified time frame. It’s been more effective as we’ve able to focus on each launch with more precision. It’s better for clients too. We don’t rule out a return to fairs but they will have to be relevant to current market demands.    

6. Omega has significantly enhanced the quality and finish of each of its lines, resulting in a significant increase in prices. How do you define Omega’s journey towards premiumisation?

Any innovation or new material will have an impact on production costs, especially when you also factor in current supply chain issues etc. However, we aim to stay accessible, as best we can, without compromising quality or the integrity of the brand, its history and design DNA. It’s worth mentioning that an Omega watch will almost certainly retain or even increase its value over time.  

8. Let’s talk about one of the biggest launches in the past decade: the collaboration with Swatch, resulting in the MoonSwatch. How was the idea conceived, executed, and what led to its success?  What would you say to skeptics who doubted this collaboration ?

I understood the viewpoint of the sceptics, but the project was a huge success and great fun. The Swatch Group, our parent company, played a vital role in the regeneration of the Swiss watch industry, so it was a wonderful way to say thank you and to offer buyers an entry level version of the famous Moonwatch. Given the Swatch collection’s colours and materials it was clearly a playful take on the sought-after Speedmaster. Contrary to cheapening the Omega icon, it lifted its status in the eyes of passionate collectors. We were proud of its success. The Swatch edition is further confirmation of the Moonwatch’s enduring appeal.  

All images courtesy Omega.