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Exploring the gorgeous Montblanc Bohème collection with Julien Renard, President of Montblanc Asia Pacific, in Beijing

It’s one thing to be flown to Beijing to witness the launch of Montblanc’s 2016 Bohème collection, it’s definitely another to be given the opportunity to meet and speak to the charming Julien Renard, the proud president of Montblanc Asia Pacific. I would have to admit my excitement may seem like fangirling, but really, his ever-friendly smile and ‘allow me’ manner are something hard to ignore. Having worked with several prestigious watchmakers before Montblanc, Julien knows his way around high complications and the luxury market for women’s watches.

“Tonight, you will be celebrating with Montblanc the glamour, self-confidence and style of the Bohème lady. The six new timepieces from the latest Bohème collection mark the Maison’s third launch of novelties,” Julien explains, noting that Zhang Zilin, Xue Xiaolu and Jeanette Aw, all outstanding women, who perfectly embody the elegance and spirit of today’s Bohème lady, will also be attending the global launch.

Notably, since it was first launched two years ago, Bohème has become Montblanc’s new expression of fine watchmaking for women, especially those in search of a distinctive and stylish timepiece, pairing femininity and authenticity with the height of horological excellence. 

How has the women’s watch market evolved in the past few years? And how has Montblanc Bohème adapted to it?

Each market is different, depending on the country and all. However, we are aware that the women’s market has been getting a lot of attention lately. Especially in
China, you see the ladies’ segment is being developed strongly; it’s no longer a male-dominated market. In terms of style, women of all ages are still looking for the same thing: refinement and modernity. But what stands out the most is the desire for excellent craftsmanship. In my opinion, in Asia, there is a higher focus on the watchmaking content. A watch is no longer just an accessory to ladies; within it is a true work of art.

Having over 110 years of heritage, how does Montblanc branch out to meet the female clientele while maintaining its own identity?

For Montblanc, the ladies’ watches have always existed. With Bohème, Montblanc has been experiencing a huge success across the world. The collection is responding to the demand; it appeals to the lady consumers. It may be perceived that Montblanc is well known for its men’s products, however, in recent years, we have more than 40 percent of boutique traffic
coming from the opposite sex. It’s clear that we do have lady buyers and we do provide them with the right offerings. Our products are no longer for gifting alone; they can be for themselves. Additionally, it’s not only about the product but the boutique’s design concept as well. If you have been to the latest Suria KLCC boutique, you would have noticed that we’ve managed to keep the core of the brand (the black and white which represents Montblanc’s strong DNA) while bringing in warmer materials to the scene. We also included round-shaped counters to help ooze a more welcoming vibe for lady shoppers.

What is Bohème collection about?

When you look at Bohème watches, you will find all the qualities of a fine Swiss watchmaking. From the way the diamonds are set and the dial with the guilloché in the middle to the numerals and the case, everything you see respects the high-level accord of watchmaking. For the movement, there are a lot of complications that Montblanc has brought into the Bohème collection as a reference to quality watchmaking. As for the design, the inspiration behind this collection is the many facets of today’s sophisticated and independent women. These Bohème ladies display a strong character with a hint of glamour that comes within – an effortless expression that never needs to be glorified. They are independent and secure individuals. I would say they possess a confident attitude to follow their inner compass, sculpting their very own style through personal life experiences.

The focus on watchmaking has been very substantial. What makes these latest timepieces in the bohème collection different from the others?

To create a movement, it takes a lot of time. And although Montblanc’s ExoTourbillon has made its present known since its debut in the Villeret line in 2009, the main issue we were facing was that it was too thick to be incorporated into a ladies’ watch. At the end of the day, we don’t want to lose the elegance and the style of the collection. Therefore, for the first time, we have developed the ExoTourbillon automatic calibre MB M29.24 movement especially for the ladies. It comes with a quick stop-second mechanism and a micro-rotor that were both created entirely in-house with the highest mechanical expertise by the master watchmakers at the Montblanc Manufacture in Switzerland. The Bohème lady can now elevate her feminine lifestyle to the pinnacle and beauty of the fine Swiss watchmaking.

The article was first published in Prestige Malaysia February 2017.

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