Timepiece Chronicle

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What Would I Do As CEO of Vulcain?

What Would I Do As CEO of Vulcain?

An early Vulcain Cricket. Photo courtesy of Those Watch Guys. 

An early Vulcain Cricket. Photo courtesy of Those Watch Guys. 

What would I do if I were in charge of the manufacture of the first alarm wristwatch? Read on to find out.

In December of 2016, Vulcain announced that seven of their twelve employees were being let go amidst declining sales. Daniel Wechsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, told Bloomberg that "We're small and we're struggling as we also compete with the big players who have more brand recognition. Without much fat on the ribs to weather such times, smaller brands take a bigger hit". He declined to comment on whether Vulcain would be facing a buy-out. So in keeping with my previous tenure as fictional CEO of TAG Heuer, I wanted to think about what I would do in charge of Vulcain

Vulcain's website is deeply flawed and turns off potential customers.

Firstly, there are two different websites run by Vulcain, vulcain-watches.worldsecuresystems.com and Vulcain-watches.ch. The first is an online shop but whenever I tried to click on an individual watch the site breaks down. This ecommerce site is awfully optimized for mobile. Large white spaces dominate the screen between long, unformatted columns of text that descend down the page. It's a disaster.

Vulcain-Watches.Ch isn't up to much either. The "Collection" page is functional enough to find individual references but my god it's dull to look at. It's a list of their fifteen different lines with another column next to it with a list of serial numbers. It's boring. If I wasn't writing this article then I wouldn't want to look at it. There is one promising element, the ability to rotate a picture of a watch around 360 degrees to see the thickness and back of the watch. Unfortunately this feature doesn't appear on every watch and the viewer sometimes doesn't work.

Step 1 - Redesign the website

Before we do anything with redesigning the collection, we need to get this website working. A website that is not responsive across multiple platforms is unforgivable in 2017. So we'll merge both websites together and set about a complete re-design.

I want all the watches on the site to have this 360 interactive viewer. It's a tad gimmicky but seeing as how lifeless the site is now, a gimmick is desperately needed. We'll also get more photos per watch (Why is it only vintage sellers that understand we need more than one photo per watch?) from numerous angles. I'm not a web designer so I'll let someone else work out the details but I want more images and more engaging content to keep visitors engaged.

Hidden at the bottom of the page are the only two audio clips of what a Cricket sounds like.

Hidden at the bottom of the page are the only two audio clips of what a Cricket sounds like.

Most important of all, there will be a video of each different type of alarm watch so potential customers can hear what it sounds like. When your unique selling point as a company is that you pioneered the mechanical alarm and you don't include a single audio clip of that alarm on your website then you're DOING IT WRONG. (There are two clips of vintage alarms but they are tucked away at the bottom of a section about Presidents Watches). This is maddeningly bad branding.

I want videos of men and women using the alarm at work to remind them of a meeting, at home to remember to pick up the kids, out on a date so they can run hand in hand to watch fireworks together. Anything is good as long as a customer can see how easy it is to use the watch and how good the watch is at being an alarm. The Cricket was never a luxury watch, it was a watch for the people with a complication that was practical.

Let's take the mountain to Mohammed and actually advertise this watch rather than moan about poor sales when our glossy magazine spreads aren't pushing watches. Oh, and these videos are going to have a multi-racial cast that show relationships across the sexual spectrum. Why? Because it's 2017 and that is what families and people in love look like.

Step 2 - Cut the product fat and make better women's watches

The current collection of Vulcain is ridiculous. You have 14 different lines which include five different variations of the 50s Presidents' watch and only one mention of the word 'Cricket'. Like the lack of audio of their iconic alarm watch, the fact that Vulcain have seemingly committed to ignoring their most famous watch is baffling. Something that has to change as well is these extremely expensive tourbillons and enamel watches. No-one goes to Rolex for pilots watches, no-one goes to Panerai for thin dress watches and no-one goes to Vulcain for tourbillons.

No-one wants this. Photo courtesy of Vulcain.

No-one wants this. Photo courtesy of Vulcain.

The only lines I'm keeping are the Nautical, Aviator, Anniversary Heart and the 50s President. Everything else can be scrapped for parts or sold at discount for all I care ( I never said I was going to be a good CEO). Ok, maybe not for scrapped for part but you get the idea. The 50s Presidents will be renamed the Cricket, the Aviator will be the Aviator Alarm, the Anniversary will be the Anniversary Alarm and the Nautical will be the Nautical Cricket. You might think that this is overkill on the alarm naming motif but I disagree. We need to let people know that Vulcain makes alarm watches again. Later on we can expand into time-only and chronographs but now I want to focus on the variations of the alarm.

I'll bring back the Golden Voice as the Cricket Golden Voice as an alarm watch designed solely for women. It's amusing/saddening to me that Vulcain's products were aimed towards a more diverse market back in the 1950s. I know Vulcain can make a small alarm caliber for a women's watch because they've done it before! I'm sure the designs are rattling around in an archive somewhere or another.

Step 3 - Stop giving watches to Presidents

Yeah, you heard me. You might think I'm mad for suggesting this but hear me out.

The world has changed a lot since President Truman left office. The way the world views the President of the United States even more so. There was never a time when any President was universally loved but the rose-tinted glasses of history allow us to look back with a certain fondness.

President Truman wearing a Vulcain Cricket. 

President Truman wearing a Vulcain Cricket. 

As CEO of Vulcain, I want people to think of our watches and their connection to the President of the United States as a good thing. For the last twenty years, the attitude towards the President has become more and more divisive with the public and media scrutinizing every aspect of them. How many articles were written about Obama's mom jeans, how many about Trump's floor-scraping ties or poorly fitting suits?

As recent event have shown us, people are willing to shop at Nordstrom just to piss off President Trump. Is it that far out of realms of possibility that people would boycott a watch brand because he wears one? No, it is not. Sure, you could dance with the PR Devil if a Vulcain watch is visible when President Trump shakes hands with President Putin, but that's not how I run things.

What's worse is that it's a President will likely never ever wear it, making the whole PR gimmick all the more transparent. You've got archives shots and records of past Presidents actually caring about your products, USE THEM. President Johnson, the man who signed the Civil Rights Act into law, bought 200 hundred Crickets to give away as gifts, what better advertising pitch do you need?!  

President Johnson wearing a Vulcain Cricket.

President Johnson wearing a Vulcain Cricket.

Let the warm glow of yesteryear bathe our watches in favorable opinions. Hell, why not make a series of limited edition Crickets based off the designs worn by Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Johnson. If we MUST give a watch to a President, let's at least wait until they have finished their term. That way we don't get any wrist shots of them with their hand on the nuclear button whilst wearing out watches.

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