The Cartier ‘Drive de Cartier’ was about as close to a number one hit as you can get in the watch industry. From the minute it was released, it was popular with journalists the world over – us wholeheartedly included. It appealed to round and small watch markets like Asia as well as tastemakers in other markets, and it was smartly priced. In a refreshingly frank interview, Cartier’s International Marketing and Communication Director, Arnaud Carrez, details how, after a wayward period where brands “tried to be everything and everywhere”, the Drive is powering Cartier to new heights.
1 – The Drive refocused Cartier on what it does best – “masculine elegance”
“The Drive came at the right time, because it was years after the birth of fine watchmaking at Cartier, after the Calibre and Calibre Diver watches. I think these stories were very nice, but we probably stretched into fields where we are not necessarily legitimate.
“Our masculinity is not muscles, sport, achievement, performance. It’s a different masculinity. It’s more elegance, and style, and refinement, and we are fine about it.”
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that kind of watchmaking. We created an impressive momentum in fine watchmaking. We were really right in doing it that way, but we probably launched too many novelties, created too many movements, and made too much noise around it. It probably overshadowed other stories.”
2 – The Calibre Diver “could be another watchmaking brand” but the Drive is “the soul of Cartier”
“As for the Calibre Diver, I personally love the watch and I wear it, but it could be another watchmaking brand. I think Drive reflected our new ambition to refocus on masculine elegance. This watch is the epitome of masculine elegance, it’s about style. It’s the soul of Cartier. Cartier is classic watches.
“Being a jeweller first and foremost, it means that we have a different tone of voice in the watchmaking industry and we shouldn’t try to be everywhere. I think in the 2000s and in the last decade, all brands tried to be everything and everywhere, saying, okay, we can go on conquer the classic market, the sporty market, the male/female market. I think for us it was an interesting exercise in the last two years, to reclarify who we are, our identity. We are a feminine maison first and it has an impact on our style of masculinity. Our masculinity is not muscles, sport, achievement, performance. It’s a different masculinity. It’s more elegance, and style, and refinement, and we are fine about it.”
3 – The Drive is versatile and will have many variations
“We thought about the whole story for the Drive when we created this watch. We said that there would be other opportunities, but we needed it as a core model. We said we needed automatic, precious, non-precious, because if you look at the price of the automatic, it’s very competitively priced at €5,000, so we need it.
“Then we said that this watch has an amazing potential, so you can explore other fields, have a slimmer version. We can even think about a metal bracelet for the slim version, but the choice of the metal bracelet is critical, because it has to remain the same. The case is so elegant, so pure, the choice of the metal bracelet is rather a challenge. I am not even sure we will do it. We are exploring it, but we’ll see whether it makes sense or not aesthetically.
4 – The Drive is now Arnaud’s personal favourite watch (replacing the Santos-Dumont)
“You know we have a similar model? The Santos-Dumont. It used to be my favourite watch, but I think the Drive’s probably moving the other one over. [The Santos-Dumont] doesn’t exist in steel, which means it remains a very exclusive, very aspirational, collectible watch.”
5 – The Drive is selling
“It has been a sales success. It has. Sales-wise we are well above our expectations for a male exclusive design, being a feminine brand and being used to launching unisex products. Looking at our original expectations, we are far above our expectations. And it’s unusual, because we have good results in pretty much all countries, including markets like China, which are round watch markets and smaller watch markets. The Drive has been a fabulous success.”