Mher Atamian

Prestige Watches Guide, July-August 2015

Time is in his hands, he is one of the masters of the Lebanese watches market. Prestige met him to evaluate the market and to understand the culture related to watchmaking. Maria Nadim asked. Here’s what he said.

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Mher Atamian, Managing Director Ets. Hagop Atamian. Photo: Archives Mher Atamian

We use new marketing tools to generate sales

How do you assess the Lebanese watch market? How did it evolve over the years? In the last decade, more and more mono brand watch boutiques have opened. The watch brands are keen to show their identity by using their own concept and furniture. Even in the multi-brand environment, it has become imperative to give each brand an adequate space to display all their collection. This has shaped the watch market worldwide including Lebanon. Distributors opened their own outlets and became retailers in order to satisfy the needs of the brands they represent and subsequently, the small traditional retailers have suffered and diminished in number.

How does the current political situation affect the market? The watch sector, like all luxury businesses, is suffering because of the political instability in the country. Purchase power has decreased and tourism has been hit hard so we have to try to cope with these challenges by using new marketing tools to generate sales.

What does the Lebanese look for the most in a watch? The typical Lebanese consumer has always been fashion oriented and is very aware of the new trends. But at the same time, they look for reliability and known brand names with established history.

Atamian has been following two parallel strategies: a multi-brand boutique and mono-brand boutique. Why? What are the advantages? For customers who intend to purchase a specific brand, then the ultimate experience and pleasure would be to make their purchase from a mono-brand boutique where they will get to see the entire collection in a very relaxed atmosphere. However, the multi-brand concept is also very useful since a lot of clients like to see a variety of brands before making their choice. In general, the 2 concepts are complementary to each other, where the mono-brand POS strengthens the brand image and supports the multi-brand.

Atamian has a very large portfolio of watch brands; from High end Haute Horlogerie to more affordable brands. What do you look for today when wanting to add to the portfolio? For the affordable fashion brands, we always keep a close look on new upcoming fashion designers who would eventually introduce their watch brands. As for the high end Haute Horlogerie, we have a good portfolio and are content to dealing with them. However, if the opportunity arises to represent a known brand that fits our profile, we would gladly look at the opportunity of establishing a business partnership.

Your go-to watch for the day? Omega.

Your go-to watch for the night? IWC Schaffhausen.

Feminine watches, with or without complications? Harry Winston.

If you have to choose one complication which would it be? Why? It depends on the complication. I would go for a Breguet tourbillon, Jaeger-LeCoultre minute repeater or IWC perpetual.