“If all the partners and craftsmen I work with had the same responsiveness, professionalism and efficiency as Switzerland Global Enterprise, my weeks would be shorter and I would sleep much better”
Pierre-Alexandre Aeschlimann, President and CEO of ANDERSEN Genève
Why did you decide to enter the Japanese market?
Japan has been one of the world’s leading watch buyers for a long time. We also know that the Japanese are lovers of Swiss watchmaking and of Switzerland in general. Both countries share the same values: precision, craftsmanship and design.
Our goal was therefore to make part of the Japanese customer base aware of the exceptional character of our products. For a small SME like ours, the main challenge is to be visible in such a market.
Over the years, what have you learned about the Japanese clientele? And what challenges did you face?
In Japan, relationships are a key factor. It is also a core value of our work. I personally know 80% of our end customers. The watches we sell are rare items, but we believe that they should be worn and understood by those who buy them.
Japan is a particular market where it is difficult to establish a foothold or find a place at first. We know, for example, that large companies such as Rolex and Starbucks took a long time to enter this market. We have had a loyal clientele since the 90s, but for a few years we have wanted to find a new audience: younger but with a real love of high-end watchmaking.
How did S-GE services in Japan contribute to the success of your event?
We contacted S-GE because we wanted to honor local customers of ANDERSEN Genève and launch a new limited edition called “Jumping Hours – Rising Sun Edition”. The idea was to be able to showcase “Swissness” in a non-ostentatious place as part of a special event. What could be better than to be able to do so in the house that best symbolizes Switzerland in Japan: the Ambassador’s residence. Being able to collaborate with S-GE is an incredible opportunity for a small SME like ours. With less than 10 million in annual revenue, we’re tiny, but we have access to the same service and network as Swiss giants like Novartis.
With the help of S-GE, we were able to bring together people who didn’t know each other and create an atmosphere conducive to sharing. The evening allowed collectors, watch journalists and Mr. Baum, the Swiss Ambassador, to mingle – a real mix, especially of generations, which is a rare thing in Japan. The common passion for beautiful watches took the upper hand in the conversations. As a result, no one looked at the time and we even slightly exceeded the hour!
Do you have one last piece of advice for a Swiss company that is reluctant to expand internationally?
“Swissness” is an incredibly strong sales argument and brand. Whether you are in New Delhi, Jakarta or San Francisco, everyone will tell you so. Why don’t we put it to good use?
We organized a special event for ANDERSEN Genève in the exquisite setting of the Swiss Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo to present their latest timepiece and to foster exchange between watch enthusiasts, representatives of the media and our Ambassador. Our guests were won over by the cozy and refined atmosphere of the event, which brought additional visibility to our client’s new product and should have a promising start in Japan.
Alain Graf, Senior Consultant APAC and Hanna Makino, Senior Trade Advisor, SBH Japan, Switzerland Global Enterprise