Craftsmen at work
18th. September 2002, Ngee Ann City, Soft Opening
18th. September 2002 was the soft opening of the Chopard Boutique at Ngee Ann City, Singapore.
Chopard has always wanted to have a wholly owned boutique in Singapore. The essential criteria is that it must be in an absolute prime location. When the space in Ngee Ann City was offered to Mr. Hardy Gattiker, Managing Director of Chopard Asia. It took only one phone call to Mr. Karl Scheufele to get the project approved. This shows clearly how fast a decision can be made in this family run company.
This is the 1st Chopard owned (versus one which is jointly owned with a retailer) boutique in Singapore and the 18th in the world. Coincidentally, the first day of business was also on the 18th. Since the Chinese (In Cantonese dialect) interpreted the number 18 as "Certain to prosper". Perhaps this can be taken as a good omen for this new boutique?
Customers and friends of Chopard streamed into the shops to greet the Boutique Manager, Ms. Mayumi Koyanagi. Many ended up buying a few items. On my personal observation, sales were good.
Multi-lingual Ms. Mayumi brings with her 18 years of working experience, and has been in the luxury goods industry since 1991. She is capable, elegant, and has the unique ability to make her customers relax in her presence.
(Left : Ms. Mayumi Koyanagi, Boutique Manager)
It was a busy day despite the fact that it wasn’t a formal opening. Champagne and finger foods were served. Customers were generally impressed with the overwhelmingly luxurious surroundings.
The always busy Mr. Hardy Gattiker and his Public Relations officer, Ms. Vanessa Lim, were present to take care of customers and friends.
Mr. Gattiker joined Chopard in 1994 as Director of Sales-Far East, a position which saw him traveling frequently between Switzerland and Asia. His familiarity with the region and his interest in fine Swiss watches, however, was born a decade earlier during a six year stay in Hong Kong.
(Left : Mr. Hardy Gattiker, Managing Director of Chopard Asia)
Mr. Gattiker very kindly gave me an expertly guided tour of the boutique, including the VIP reception area and the well secured safe, to discourage my unexpected visit after opening hours J
Upon returning to Switzerland in 1988, Mr. Gattiker continued his marketing work with the Swiss watch trade. Despite his busy work and travel schedule, Mr. Gattiker is committed to spending as much time as possible with his wife and two sons. A passion for soccer, tennis and skiing is balanced by the more cerebral entertainment of touring museums and exhibitions, particularly those showcasing impressionist works.
(Left: VIP Reception Area)
As for Vanessa, her area of responsibilities includes developing PR plans, management of PR budgets, preparation and circulation of press kit materials, media relations, coordination of communication materials for clients’ collateral, organization of launches and events and handling of all liaisons with technical support suppliers.
Vanessa is not only an extremely efficient worker; she is also friendly and professional in all her dealings with customers and media alike. I noticed that she was unpretentiously warm and charming.
The boutique looks luxurious and beautiful, in the familiar Chopard décor that bears the signature of Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, the vice-president of Chopard Switzerland.
(Right : Ms. Vanessa Lim, Public Relation)
Since the 2nd Chopard Boutique in Vienna on 1989 (the first was opened in Geneva on the same year) every single one including this 62nd boutique, was renovated by probably the best woodworker in the world, Alfred Hager KG of Austria.
Chopard spared no expense and insisted that the wooden floor, furniture and display cases were done by Alfred Hager. Skilled Austrian craftsmen were flown into Singapore as often as necessary to go through the manual assembling and renovation process.
To give one an understanding of the renovation process, it is interesting to go through briefly how it was laboriously done by Alfred Hager KG (Photos below are from the Singapore Boutique renovation project):
(Initial drawing for Precise and detailed Planning)
Alfred Hager still works with pencil and paper - but more and more work is now done on the PC. Plans for every boutique are customised to allow individual touches in a standardised setting.
(Actual Floor Plan for Chopard Boutique Singapore)
(Mr. Reinhard Schreder, ensuring flawless workmanship)
Different parts of wood are cut to size by using a manual cutting machine. This is essential especially for difficult decorative patterns. Only the best quality wood is used. It has to be heated in an oven for some time to make sure that the floor will not warp in the future. The variance of weather in different countries was taken into consideration during the drying process. The stability and durability of work is always guaranteed.
Each wooden surface is lacquered in 3 layers and then polished. They are hardened and grinded several times to ensure they will be resistant to scratches and gradual erosion.
Master Craftsmen were flown-in from Austria to lay the wood individually. Despite their accurate measurements, customized adjustments were still necessary during the laying of the "wooden floor". Each wooden piece including the delicate borders have to be mounted very carefully to get it right.
(Note the decorative border)
(Job almost completed)