Guillaume Laidet previously founded, developed, then sold William L. 1985, and quickly moved on to his next venture, resurrecting the brand Nivada Grenchen.

Where are you based?

I am based in Paris and supposedly traveling a lot in Switzerland and Asia, but right now with this crazy period, I am mainly in the South West of France near to the sea.

Have you ever used Kickstarter or crowdfunding to finance Nivada Grenchen?

Nope, Nivada Grenchen’s business model and strategy are to use only our website and very few other ways to distribute the watches (only Hodinkee for now) – in order to control the sales and avoid any “grey” market. Moreover, our strategy is to offer super competitive prices so hard to give margin to a third party.

Does your company use a PR agency or have a PR manager?

Yes, I am the PR manager too! At least for now.

How effective do you find Facebook and Instagram to be in marketing Nivada Grenchen?

Instagram has been an amazing tool for Nivada Grenchen, from the start I had the chance to receive many constructive feedbacks and great ideas from the #watchfam community. I truly think the success of Nivada is coming from this transparent exchange between the watch collectors and our team. I mean it is a quite simple process you propose ideas you think are good and you get instantly the answer and you know if you are on the right track or not. Sometimes you are on the target and sometimes, and sometimes, ahaha not really. The best example is the movement choice, at first, I was thinking “ok people prefer automatic” (I do personally) and the 1 mm difference of thickness is peanuts, right? But in the end, we are selling 85% of the manual movement. Without that feedback, we would have lost 85% of our business, period.

Do you prefer IG or FB?

IG for sure but I need to spend more time on FB as there are many Facebook watch-addicted groups.

Are you working on any other brands right now?

Yes, I am working on another super exciting project which is Excelsior Park. I’ve found a way to take it back from Tourneau who was doing “nothing” with it. I’ve always loved those super clean and classic chronograph dials, we have started to communicate on Instagram, the website is coming soon, and more important the prototypes will be ready in the next weeks and I really can’t wait to put them on my wrist to show that on IG, I will keep you updated on that for sure!

What are your thoughts on limited editions as a marketing strategy?

Ahaha it is a super tricky question, I think it has to be Really Ltd edition and not another boutique 5,000 pieces limited edition. For Nivada Grenchen I did not want to have any of the core collections marketed as limited editions because I want anybody to be able to get it and truly don’t like the idea to try to fool our community so it has to be for real. We will make very few limited editions on Nivada, the first one is the Paul Newman limited edition but really limited because we have only 50 Valjoux 23 movements available!

So you are selling direct to consumer, with no paid Public Relations expert or agency, you don’t use Kickstarter, and your sole retailer is Hodinkee? How is this working so far?!

Yes exactly, we have a good network of publications who supported the launch and built a strong community on Instagram and emails that, as an example, has enabled us to pre-sell 50 Valjoux 23 re-edition at $5K+ per piece without any advertising or official PR. We are doing 90% of our sales on the website, and the remaining 10% via Hodinkee.

As a successful entrepreneur that developed and then sold the watch company William L. 1985, and now co-owns Nivada Grenchen and others, can you give readers any tips?

Ahaha successful, it depends on which standards you are focusing on, to be honest, I had really hard times with William L over the last 2 years, the retail and distribution business has been a really hard experience and I made a lot of mistakes.

But thanks to those mistakes, I’ve learned a lot too. I can tell you I will not make the same mistakes with Nivada Grenchen and Excelsior Park. I think the real success is to work on something you really like and enjoy and that’s what I do right now:)

Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason Pitsch is the Founder of Professional Watches. He appreciates good craftsmanship in everything from architecture to automobiles to cameras to clothing. Yet his focus for the past decade has remained consistent on covering just one type: watchmaking.