A dynamo like Laurent Lecamp is expected to bring fresh ideas on strategy and innovation to the watchmaking bench. Montblanc’s parent company Richemont acquired the Villeret-based Minerva manufacture in 2007. Tasked with rooting Minerva deeply into Montblanc’s watch division and driving this important watchmaking pillar into the future, he is surrounded by inspiration.
Outside, he points to a shape in the Swiss mountains opposite, believed to have inspired the iconic V-shaped bridge first used in Minerva watches of the 1920s and 1930s.
“When I came here I was very surprised to see Montblanc making spirals (a very fine spring that forms the heart of a mechanical watch). It’s incredible; I can count the Swiss brands doing this in-house on one hand,” he says. As he learned more about Montblanc’s heritage and craftsmanship, he discovered Sandra Pauli, who has worked at Villeret for 21 years. “She does the diamantage coquille (diamond-shell) finishing for our ratchets. Only she has this savoire faire. How many companies still have this today? Two? Three? One? That’s Montblanc,” says Lecamp.
He wants to develop the emotional aspect by going back to the roots of the brand and reusing them in a modern way. “The strategy has to be based on emotion, savoire faire, and know-how. We have something that nobody has,” he says. It’s also about the art of authentic storytelling. “Developing connections between people and the stories related to the products is essential for the luxury-goods market. Today, luxury is based on emotion.”
He acknowledges the trend towards digital for information and retail therapy. A client wanting to buy a Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100, for example, can do so with virtual input from the watchmaker. “Here, in Villeret, that’s unique. It makes it possible to develop luxury sales. But we need contact. Luxury is not through the screen,” says Lecamp.
• From the May edition of Wanted, 2021.