60 seconds with Alexandre Meerson, Managing Director of Meerson Watches
Alexandre, please tell me about yourself and your business, Meerson Watches
I am a watch designer and started my own brand here in Surrey 10 years before launching in 2014. With my team, we create and engineer luxury watches right here in our Guildford studio. After they’ve been designed, depending on the collection, we handpick the artisans who are going to manufacture them. We pride ourselves on working exclusively with the best artisans in the world, and all of our products are produced entirely by hand.
There are currently two lands of watchmaking, one is Japan and the other is Switzerland. We chose Switzerland for the first collections we designed, we are now on our fourth collection since launching. The brand is about creating and designing watches that have a solid sense of purpose and occasion. They are bespoke, made to order, and designed with input from each client before manufacturing. The latter part of this process involves sitting down with each client around the world to personalise their timepiece before it is produced in our workshop in Switzerland.
Where is your client base?
Half of our client base is in the UK, mostly in the South east of England. Another 30% is in the USA and the rest is dispersed amongst Europe, Australia and China.
What are your USP’s as a business? How do you stand out from the competition?
What makes us unique is our style and approach to design – I create timepieces that have a purpose and that celebrate occasions in life. Each watch is unique and expresses its’ owners individual sense of style. As a luxury product, uncompromising quality of material and craft are a given, and we are no exception here.
MEERSON operates like high-end tailors and houses of Couture – each customer owns a watch that has been completely designed with only themselves in mind.
How did you get into the watchmaking business?
Watchmaking is the story of my life, my father and our family before him were in design, architecture and jewellery. Watches came in the 1950s when my father, a refugee of the war, became one of the visionaries who invented the concept of the fashion watch. I spent all of my youth learning how to design with my father, but also working with the artisans of the House, that’s where my love for hand-made watches comes from. My father designed some of the most known pieces of the 70’s and the 80’s for brands like Tiffany and other high-end fashion designers. After this he had his own brand of watches, an international brand sold all around the world. After he retired in the 90’s his brand became the owner of the French luxury group, Hermes. I went onto the retail side of the business and became an advisor to some of the world’s most iconic luxury brands such as Richemont, the owners of Cartier, and still today with LVMH who own brands such as Louis Vuitton.
It was in 2007 that I decided to launch my own House. It took me 7 years to set-up, because beyond design I had to set-up the whole manufacturing, supply chain and organisation. We’re now based in Surrey, a proud British brand that sells around the world. This is very unique as whilst most companies will go through intermediaries, we work like a tailor, using social media as our primary source to reach out to our clients.
What were the main motivations that lead to what you do?
Creating watches embodies everything I love to do. Creating under constraint is my passion, a necessary skill when you have to fit around 600 moving parts into a small object. Watchmaking combines design, art, style, accuracy, technology, materials, and it’s what I’ve aspired to do for my entire life.
Do you believe smartwatches are the next generation or do you think luxury watches will always be timeless?
I think the circular movement of the hands on the dial, the cogs that are assembled and the mechanical heartbeat are an incredible way to symbolise the passing of time that goes full circle, and that tells not only the stories of an individual but all of the stories that he lives. Symbolically it’s something that cannot be captured by a digital device, we’re talking about a piece of art that’s hand-made by more than 80 people, which has to be appreciated to be worn. Even if our design is pretty understated I understand there will always be desirability, like there is for a hand-made car. Now the real question is who’s going to occupy the real estate on your wrist? Smart watches are exciting, useful and increasingly becoming a mixed hybrid of medical devices and extensions of your connection with your phone. I believe there is fatigue with this, one interesting fact is the incredible growth amongst analog watch sales in teenagers and young adults. If you look around you, you’ll see an increasing number of young people wearing mechanical or even quartz watches with real hands and faces. They are also an expression of individuality. When Apple used their incredible motto ‘Think Different’ in the 80’s when I started using computers, today that same brand messages read, ‘Be Like Everyone’. I think people are looking to differentiate themselves, there’s nothing that brands you more as being part of the mass than wearing a smart watch in this day and age.
What’s your experience of being a member of The County Club?
The County Club is a respiration in the day, offering a cool and idiosyncratic atmosphere, where you have the opportunity to meet great people. It is where you appreciate nice company, you don’t worry about who does what and who’s where and I learn a lot every time I come here. In a busy day, it presents a place to enjoy nice time off, it's a place where you receive a lot of friendship, and if you give a little bit you always have a great time.
Would you recommend The County Club to others?
I would very much recommend The County Club to others. There are many restaurants and bars in Guildford but very few places where you’re welcomed with a smile and your first name each and every time you enter.
If you would like to download an application form to be considered to become a member of The County Club, Guildford please click here.