Simone Tamer

Prestige issue 263, June 2015

Full of energy, dynamism, all crowned by beautiful and big ambitions, Simone Tamer, belonging to the fourth generation of a family business 100% specialized in watch brands, jewelry and medical, has all the assets of success. For her, time is sacred. But it is also a friend which allows to dream and plan. Head of Luxury Goods division within Tamer Brothers, Simone talks to Prestige about her career, her projects … and blows of heart.

Simone Tamer portrait

© Archives Simone Tamer

«We continue to invest in Lebanon, this country we believe in.»

Simone Tamer, you are the daughter of the businessman Jean Tamer. Since when did you join the family business and why? What studies have you done? What are you in charge within Tamer Brothers? It is at Collège Notre Dame de Jamhour that I have done my studies and got my double general certificate, Lebanese and French, with honors. I got my BA at AUB and my MBA at ESA, before flying to Boston at Harvard Business School for executive courses. In 2006 a multinational company engaged me in the medical field. I followed all the professional steps from brand manager to marketing manager to be nine years later at the head of the Luxury Goods Department at Tamer Brothers, a family business.

Tell us about Tamer Brothers, their history and their products … Founded in 1895 by Gergi Tamer, the company was initially specialized in the sale of raw materials. The second generation was specialized in traditional trade by adding new activities to the operational portfolio. It is thanks to my father who is part of the third generation, the company has developed in several countries in the region by multiplying the current business to become a house, certified ISO9001 in diversified activities such as medical, paramedics, chemical, banking solutions, luxury items, etc. Tamer Brothers remains a 100% family business, headed today by my father Jean Tamer. We manage the different sections with the responsible teams. I belong to the fourth generation, and am responsible for the Luxury Goods division. The youngest Joan followed finance studies at AUB then obtained her MBA at ESA; Sharen after her studies in Entrepreneurial Business at AUB and a law degree, is responsible for the chemical division; my brother John completed his engineering studies and is always pursuing his MBA at AUB. As for Crystel, she chose medicine as my mother, and specializes in radiology.

What brands of watches are represented in Lebanon by Tamer Brothers and since when? Our portfolio of high-end watches is very diverse in different divisions. We select the best in each category. In the medical field, we represent prestigious brands for several decades since we are the partners of Siemens who is number one worldwide for medical equipment, especially for turnkey projects. Regarding the Luxury Goods division, we represent: Audemars Piguet, Bomberg, Breitling, Montblanc, Omega and Swatch, and has been for decades. Each brand is locally in specialized shops as well as in multi-brand stores. We were the first to settle in Down Town with mono-brand boutiques.

Over the years, you have opened mono-brand boutiques, Montblanc, Audemars Piguet, Swatch, Omega and Breitling. Why choosing this option of shops instead of a single point of sales with multi-brands? We have mono-brand stores and other multi-brand under the emblem of Kronos. All coexist in the market to offer different choices to customers. The multi-brand facilitates to the customer a choice of high-end watch brands. While the mono-brand stores not only offer more choice of product lines, but also a personalization of the brand, a sanctification of the retail space, complete collections and often a rest area, larger sale offices and more comfortable in a unique setting, identical everywhere in the world, exceptional service and a personalized sales and after sales services.

Photos Omega

© Omega

Tamer Frères has a very diverse portfolio of watches

How do you define the luxury watch market in Lebanon? It is not easy to define a market with many trends, the political situation does not help and the «Spending behavior» of the Lebanese client is not predictable. The previous year, unfortunately, we have not received foreign customers or Arabs. Moreover, the luxury watch market is highly developed in terms of taste and collections, we select our collections to please as much as possible the Lebanese customer and tourists.

What do you think of the parallel market? The buyer of high-end watches is now suffering the damage of the parallel market. These watches come from different sources and often unknown. Their guarantees and vouchers are generally biased, and the components of the watches are replaced. We often receive in our after-sales service, pieces badly preserved during transport. The «suitcase sellers» hide these watches in their pockets to escape customs. This playfulness helps petty criminals to evade government taxes such as VAT and customs duties, and worse, they sell the watches at full price, customers rights are not preserved when it comes to repairs. They come to us to solve their problems, but repairing their watches often costs as much as a new watch.

What about the Lebanese consumer? Is he a good connoisseur? The Lebanese client knows what he wants. He looks for very special and often limited pieces. He fully knows the history of the brand and the image that he would like to identify to, demonstrates a very fine taste for luxury and easily adopts novelties. Note that the Lebanese remain with a forward-thinking taste compared to Middle Eastern client. Fashion is launched from Lebanon.

What are your favorites from the SIHH 2015? The new Audemars Piguet Millenary Tourbillon with blue aventurine dial, a white gold case 18K, set with baguette-cut diamonds, a mix of horological complexity and fine jewelry that offers women an elegant and precious whirlwind. Another wonderful piece, the new Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama, in limited edition, inspired by the exploration of Vasco da Gama and the expertise and innovation of Minerva. Heritage Collection MontBlanc  Chronométrie unites the heritage of Swiss watchmaking and the search for the ultimate accuracy.

Back from Basel, what do you remember of that edition of Baselworld? What are your favorites? A lot of surprises this year at Baselworld, the watch Chronograph Moonwatch Omega Speedmaster, 42mm, a watch designed for the «Silver Snoopy Award-45th Anniversary» and the piece Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph «White Side of the Moon», two breathtaking pieces. Also a novelty at Breitling: Breitling B55 Connected, the first chronograph connected, hence a new philosophy that puts the Smartphone to the watch service to increase its functionality and usability.

Montres Tamer

© Breitling © Montblanc © Audemars Piguet

«Time is a friend who allows us to dream and plan»

We noticed a considerable number of «connected watches» this year at the Fair. What do you think of this trend? Is it a threat to mechanical watchmaking? The «connected watches» are an opportunity, not a threat. Today this segment introduces the concept of «watch» to a generation that wears less watches; this high-tech clientele will therefore first wear these connected watches to then move their choice towards more sophisticated watches by the image, the history and the brand mechanism. In my opinion, the wrist remains a rather personal area, different generations are not ready to wear a mini-phone to their wrists. Moreover, the rechargeable batteries of these watches are a real hassle because in our mind, a watch is not intended to be recharged. Although the watch world need not fear an invasion, we note a development in the collections of the manufacturers which slightly lean towards the spirit of high technology, while respecting the brand image and disciplines Swiss watch production.

Your advice to young enthusiasts who want to start their collection of watches … The various watch brands today offer a huge choice in terms of aesthetics, technology, know-how … Regardless of what the customer is searching for, a beautiful collection can now comprise simple watches, complicated watches, but not necessarily a whirlwind some interesting pieces such as GMT, dual time, perpetual calendars, 15000 Gauss watches,Diver watches … The new Collector can also venture into aesthetics. Indeed, our customers order more bracelets, some are designed solely for them, with special colors or Nato bracelets. On the other hand, several brands are now developing high watchmaking technology pieces in parallel with their expertise. These pieces are special and interesting to acquire.

«The lebanese client has the taste of luxury and adopts novelties easily»

We noticed a considerable number of «connected watches» this year at the Fair. What do you think of this trend? Is it a threat to mechanical watchmaking? The «connected watches» are an opportunity, not a threat. Today this segment introduces the concept of «watch» to a generation that wears less watches; this high-tech clientele will therefore first wear these connected watches to then move their choice towards more sophisticated watches by the image, the history and the brand mechanism. In my opinion, the wrist remains a rather personal area, different generations are not ready to wear a mini-phone to their wrists. Moreover, the rechargeable batteries of these watches are a real hassle because in our mind, a watch is not intended to be recharged. Although the watch world need not fear an invasion, we note a development in the collections of the manufacturers which slightly lean towards the spirit of high technology, while respecting the brand image and disciplines Swiss watch production.

Your advice to young enthusiasts who want to start their collection of watches … The various watch brands today offer a huge choice in terms of aesthetics, technology, know-how … Regardless of what the customer is searching for, a beautiful collection can now comprise simple watches, complicated watches, but not necessarily a whirlwind some interesting pieces such as GMT, dual time, perpetual calendars, 15000 Gauss watches,Diver watches … The new Collector can also venture into aesthetics. Indeed, our customers order more bracelets, some are designed solely for them, with special colors or Nato bracelets. On the other hand, several brands are now developing high watchmaking technology pieces in parallel with their expertise. These pieces are special and interesting to acquire.

What are the projects of Tamer Brothers? Despite the situation in the country, we do not stop investing in Lebanon, the country in which we believe greatly. We’re very fortunate that the chairman of our group is an optimist. My father repeats incessantly: «I buy at the sound of guns». We invest and we are constantly working on projects that make up our portfolio of expertise.

You are also implanted in Iraq … We invested in several boutiques in Iraq including mono-brand stores with a staff of Lebanese with high expertise. The current situation in Iraq is deteriorating because of geopolitical problems but we remain very optimistic vis-à-vis this developing market.

Your favourite time of the day? Our family lunch daily, a way to cut the working day in two but also to discuss the different experiences or finalize some pending work.

Your first watch? A Swatch POP! All in pink, very original. You could remove the watch case and place it in different bins bracelets. I put aside a small sum of my pocket money to buy me new bracelets!

You never go out without… my phone of course!  My watch, that I choose even before choosing my clothes or accessories.

Time: friend or foe? Time is a friend, it teaches us lessons, but also, if it is well managed, it offers us opportunities to make decisions, to dream, plan, depending on how it is used. And through our memory, time spent also offers us beautiful memories.  Interview by MARIA NADIM