Cyrille Vigneron comes across both affable and almost self-effacing at first, with the air of an academic – someone fascinated by late Medieval German literature, perhaps, or the intricacies of interpreting Sumerian cuneiform tablets. The reality, of course, is very different: Vigneron is the CEO of Cartier, the jewel in the crown of the Richemont Group. He’s held the post since 2015 (he was Director General Cartier Europe, as well, from 2005 to 2013). Although the impression of professorial introspection is not entirely incorrect (it’s not every luxury brand global CEO who leads brand statements with a quote from Milan Kundera) at the same time, he’s responsible for ensuring that the behemoth of a company that is Cartier is able to respond nimbly and rapidly to changing conditions – kind of like trying to get a supertanker to turn like a racing yacht.
HODINKEE caught up with Vigneron at the perfect UK Cartier replica watches booth at Watches & Wonders 2022, in Geneva. “Booth” is a deceiving term – with floor space to match its place in the Group, the Cartier booth is like a series of nested jewel boxes, and like jewel boxes, each room contains its own cornucopia of treasures.
HODINKEE: After two years, we had some reservations about the necessity of physical trade shows, but this week we’re starting to feel like there’s no real substitute for seeing high quality Cartier fake watches and people in person.
Cyrille Vigneron: Yes. I think what we see here in this week is that, when everything is at once physical and people can meet each other, there is a different atmosphere and vibration. So there is nothing that can replace that. Then the question would be, having a world show compared to regional ones. There was, last year, the Watches and Wonders in Shanghai, with a lot of attraction, as well. So the fact is that to have something physical, I think, comes to be something that we need.
Watches like the cushion-based best replica Cartier Coussin and Masse Mystérieuse watches, if you don’t have a chance to actually feel them you miss something.
Even this one [the Mass Mystérieuse] if you cannot touch it, you don’t see that it flips, you don’t feel the weight … there’s some part where, before you see them physically, it’s difficult to really figure out the right size and how it feels. So all these, I think, can only be done when you see them physically.
In some way, we can do much more digitally than we thought, as far as we prepare for it properly. We do some recording, some parts can be a digital booth, some parts we have a high-definition camera. If we pay attention, we can have almost the same feeling, or at least, if you’re not there, you’re feeling like it’s something important.
In the physical show, everyone makes an effort to represent themselves, and then we can see diversity. Our booth is very different from others, and when you see ones like Van Cleef or IWC, you say, “Okay, just by looking at their booth, you know they are telling a different story.” Their narrative is different. Of course, the product they are doing is different. And by feeling it, then you understand what the brands are about.
It’s a signature design strategy for top Cartier copy watches to innovate technically, but to use technical inventions for aesthetic effects. Where did you get the idea for the Coussin, speaking of things best experienced in person?
Well, for the cheap replica Cartier Coussin watches it came from two things. The other models which are in the collection, are more like a twist in some way. But there was also the research and material that came with a kind of mesh – I don’t know if you had noticed last year, we had a kind of glove in gold mesh, with a Baignoire [watch] on top.
It was basically research. Can we do something like that? And can we make something that isn’t too heavy, and which would look like a kind of second skin? And on this kind of research with this possibility, we can do something. Not only a kind of gold skin but something fluffy.
And it’s really comfortable to wear. And we have some customer orders for it [the glove watch]. We didn’t know if we would, because it was just a kind of exploration.
So you didn’t have a specific client in mind, and made it more as a demonstration piece.
Sometimes if we have creative ideas or innovation, we just don’t know if we will find a public for it.
Say I have a concept and design a collection – that way, typically, we try to have some customers in mind. But sometimes we say we can just explore, where you just don’t know. Sometimes we find a stone, and we say, I will make a piece out of it. And of course, you expect to find a client. It’s more like art when you do something, not for a specific customer base, but just because you express what you want. And then it’s a surprise if people like it or not. And for this one, they all do.
Another unusual feature of the wholesale super clone Cartier Coussin collection watches this year was the use of brilliant-cut diamonds but inverted, so that the pavilion [the pointed underside] is uppermost.
We launched this year the Clash [Un]limited collection, and there is a tennis version, which is like that, with inverted diamonds, because then it’s pointed and with alternating black and white. And you say, how can you have some part that can look almost like a kind of a weapon? But at the same time, it is also so soft. And even when you touch it, it’s not aggressive. It looks aggressive and it’s not. Or others on the contrary look soft but can be kind of strong, and make you feel strong and confident. And this works quite well.
The other part we have moved on is to have some sign of perceived masculinity and some sign of perceived femininity. And when you put all of them together, you get really big strength. Not what you can call unisex. I think in some way, this one is both masculine and feminine because it’s strong.
The classic watch that can be worn by a man or woman is the 2022 Cartier Tank replica watches and that goes back to 1918.
Yes. And so, we want to kind of de-stereotype the watchmaking perception. You have some fake Cartier watches online site that can be worn by anyone who has personality. And then, depending on how you blend the characters, then you can have everything. Meaning, it’s not because this is a rather larger size, it can’t be worn by women, it’s fine. And if we have some gender fluidity, this can be worn by a man. I would wear the Coussin because it is masculine, as well.
Super-LumiNova is being more and more widely used as a decorative material, as we saw in the Pasha collection this year. Something invented for purely technical reasons but today it’s used increasingly for decorative purposes, as well.
Yes. So we had done some in previous years, and the Pasha de Cartier replica watches for sale this year. But there was a Panthère [Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier Regard de Panthère, released in 2020] where you have some Super-LumiNova on the eyes. And so it looks like at night, like the panther is looking at you from the dark, just the eyes. So we have done a few things, illuminating the Santos Skeleton at night in a different way, but this one with the Panther was pretty cool.
For a lot of collectors and Cartier fans the big news was, of course, the Tank Chinoise. The basic design of the openworked models is quite old, based on traditional Chinese architecture.
In the 1920s, there was some considerable interest in Chinese or Japanese aesthetic motifs. But today we try to use them in the right way, use them in a respectful way. So having a source of inspiration, which is true, and then doing something, which is also fun and true. And this one, I think, works super well.
You must have known that elongating the case would be controversial.
So, there were two things there. First, when you make the case rectangular, then it gives more air, and in some way, it breathes better. So it makes it more contemporary to today. But second, when we come to this kind of design inside [the openworked models] it goes better with the rectangular shape. If it was square it would be very difficult to put this motif inside.
And even from square and transparent, it would work less. We also do some vintage pieces sometimes and we make a re-edition of the way they were. Like we did when we relaunched China fake Cartier Tank Cintrée watches.
It’s interesting, even after 100 years you can find room for improvement.
I would say what we try to do when, with the designs, is ask how to look at things with fresh eyes. When we relaunched the Panthère there was nothing to change in the shape. And that Panthère is basically the same as with the 1990s, the same. It’s just that the large model at that moment was kind of suitable for men, now it’s too small. But for others we say we need to review a little bit, we need to reshape a little bit, either to expand or to make it thinner or a little bigger. And the Chinoise changed. And I think it works well.
So we’re not trying to make something new just to trigger interest, even if we do. But rather to constantly make something which is true to who we are.
Interest in Cartier has exploded in the last few years.
Especially even a year-and-a-half, I would say. And I think it’s the result of what we did six years ago, to come back with what we all thought Cartier truly is. In some ways we had gone at some point into too many novelties, going to shapes that in some way were not ours.
With the interest comes a problem. Today if you want a watch, there is a very good chance if you order it in 2022 you won’t get it until 2023 or even longer. How do you see the industry addressing this, and how is Cartier replica watches paypal in particular handling it?
There are two questions here that have two very different kinds of answers. And the question is that with the, I think, global view in the world, you can have interest from collectors in the same piece from all over the world at the same time. So for instance, you do 50 pieces and you get 300 orders. And people get frantic about it. And usually, you need to have only two collectors who want the same thing for the price to go up. And so that’s a problem. Because before, people would not know as much or would try to find something different. Now there is a high concentration on the same thing. It’s difficult to say how to get their interest without having too much frustration. But at some point, the interest also comes from the fact it’s limited, if you don’t limit then the interest goes down.
It’s important to mean what you say, if it’s 200, it’s 200. If it’s supposed to be in a certain year, it’s in the year, and that’s it. And then you can make something different. But you don’t play on false expectations.
The other part of it is how can we have the capacity to move on numbers overall, and on being able to expand on popular models? And on that, we have increased our flexibility really, really high. We were able to reduce capacity when there was COVID by about 30 percent, and to double it just after, within a year. So where the industry usually has about one year of inertia, we reduced it to three months. Doesn’t mean we don’t have any difficulty or shortage, but not so much compared to some other brands.
You said last year that you’re specifically structuring your manufacturing processes so you can be responsive over a shorter time frame.
Absolutely. And that’s where the manufacturing innovation, and what we have done in the manufacturing lab, has made a lot of progress.
I think the thing which has a long-term trend, is the trend for tangible quality and durable quality. People care more for designs that are lasting, and then the quality is lasting, as well. So it must be more durable, more repairable, and you can transmit to your children in a nicer way. Then there is more concern for the environment and for societal issues, as well. We use alternative materials, like what we did last year with the SolarBeat movement, and we were kind of taken short by the demand. So we had to expand the production capacity massively. So that’s why we are quite quiet this year, but we are actively working, so that we can have a larger capacity.
And finally, some things are becoming a long-term trend and we weren’t expecting them. The rest you have to adjust, you have to be as flexible as you can. What used to be a model you could get immediately, say you place an order now, then the dealer waits for a year. And then the customers wait for a year-and-a-half. I just don’t know where the borders will be open or closed. You can’t work in the old way anymore.