Tidlos Craft had the great honor to speak to Laura from @capital LAURA in Shanghai. She is considered to be among the leading experts in the Greater China Watch Industry. With her huge following in Mainland China, she shapes the market. We hear about her passion for the Industry and vision on how to create greater knowledge and understanding in the market.
Laura, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: Thank you Laura for finding the time to speak to us and share your unique perspective about the Chinese market.
@capital LAURA: Thank you very much, happy to connect.
TC: Where are you from Laura?
@capital LAURA: I was born in Hualien, Taiwan, and grew up there. My father was a fisherman.
TC: Where and what did you study?
@capital LAURA: I studied at the London College of Fashion and moved back to Taiwan after graduation. I was looking for a job related to art and publishing but had a difficult time finding one. By chance, I landed 2003 a job in Taiwan at a magazine for watches. I must say before that I did not have any experience in that field but have been learning ever since – from books and from my friends in Switzerland and globally.
Laura in London, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
THE ENCOUNTER OF LAURA AND WATCHES
TC: How did your work in the watch sector evolve?
@capital LAURA: I initially worked in Taiwan becoming the Managing Editor for World Wrist Watch Magazine. At the end of 2005, I started visiting people in the watch industry in Mainland China. Back then the industry was not yet so well developed on the Mainland. I started writing columns for Modern Weekly and Vogue as well as many other magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2006.
TC: How did your work with Revolution Magazine start?
@capital LAURA: 2008 Revolution later approached me to build up the Taiwanese market but I declined. My interest was already set on Greater China. My vision is to develop the watch industry in the region as I see the same sense of beauty and values.
Laura in Shanghai, Photo Courtesy of @capital Laura
Since then I have traveled extensively between Taiwan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong managing 3 different editions of REVOLUTION.
TC: How did you focus more on Mainland China then?
@capital LAURA: in 2010 I officially relaunched REVOLUTION in Mainland China, it was a great success for me and REVO. I also sensed the trend of digitalization in China very early, so I started establishing the Revolution website around 2011, and WeChat Official Account in 2012. It helped me to understand the behavior and preference and how the market evolved early on.
“MY GOAL WAS TO BUILD THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WATCH MEDIA IN THE MARKET, THUS WE STARTED TO HOLD SEMINARS AND I STARTED GIVING SPEECHES ABOUT WATCH TRENDS AND THINGS HAPPENING IN THE INDUSTRY.”
It was funny when we held our first seminar after Art Basel in 2011, there were only 3 people who showed up, but it soon became more than 50 persons’ attendance and we have to do more.
TC: How did you end up developing your own business in the watch industry?
@capital LAURA: I started my WeChat Official Account (WeChat ID: lauralauralan) 4 years ago. From my point of view, people don’t really use websites but rather social media accounts in China.
I write about different brands and share their stories in terms of mechanism, design, historical background, and extra. I’m also occasionally invited as a guest speaker to VIP events, and also often give a speech or provide consulting to the Sales and PR teams of watch brands.
Vacheron Constantin TRADITIONNELLE, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Rolex Daytona, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Laura giving a speech in brands’ VIP events and training, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: What do you enjoy about your job?
@capital LAURA: My work is very time-consuming. Anyone who is developing great content knows how much effort it requires. Only a few people insist on doing such work quality, especially writing every day.
So many times I wanted to give up but people would come up to me and tell me not to. They are expecting me to deliver much more knowledge for people, and those things even the Swiss HQ cannot precisely execute in the market.
What I especially love is the learning component. I write nearly every day and meet wonderful people in the industry, designers, and brand owners. I have made wonderful friends along my journey.
Rolex Explorer II, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Blancpain Fiftyfathoms, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
RICHARD MILLE RM 67-02, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: What are your plans for the next 5 years?
@capital_laura: 7 years ago I already thought about what kind of life I want to have. I wanted to be a watch critic and put my works published in a book if possible. Last year, during Covid, I translated a book about JLC Reverso and wrote the preface. It really means a lot to me for moving forward with my career steps.
Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso in simplified Chinese, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
“MY VISION IS FOR PEOPLE TO APPRECIATE THE ART OF WATCHMAKING IN A CHINESE WAY.”
My next project is to have my own book in Chinese and talk about handcrafting and the design of watches. I see a vision for my knowledge to be in a book. My dream is to have people learn about watches in a professional way. I also plan to do a translation of one book per year.
TC: What can we learn from China?
@capital LAURA: I feel like the whole watch universe is quite the same in this way, in every region/or country worldwide. We share similar values. One should however be open-minded. Value and mindset are important. Regarding marketing strategy you need to really learn how to do it in China, the market is very unique.
TC: What do you enjoy about the watch industry in China?
@capital LAURA: I appreciate the Chinese art to help understand each other. We first have to learn about the culture to really understand the market.
Kesi, Chinese Tapestry, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: How do you look at the vintage market in China?
@capital LAURA: I think people in Guangdong have a greater sense of secondhand and vintage. Trading is more active in that part of China. Shanghai is more complex, very diverse. People in Beijing are starting to get interested in vintage. T1 cities are the ones where there will be growth first. The market is developing, however, still at the beginner stage.
TC: How do you see the future of Chinese microbrands?
@capital LAURA: I don’t see the development of viable Chinese micro-brands for the next 30 years. A critical skill is micro-engineering and that is a skill that the Swiss have mastered, even in Japan or Germany, it took nearly 50-100 years already to develop modern watchmaking.
BRANDS AND THEIR UNIQUE STORIES WITH LAURA LAN
TC: What was your first watch when growing up and what is the story behind it?
@capital LAURA: My first watch was a Swatch Waveking, it was a cool luminous plastic bracelet watch, which was a Valentine gift from a very special person in my life.
TC: What was your first mechanical watch?
@capital LAURA: My first mechanical watch was NOMOS when I started to work in the watch industry. Back to the first day I started, I only knew about Swatch, nothing about mechanics, but after 3 months of intensely hard work, I started to understand more and picked this special brand to be my first watch.
Till today I still have a good relationship with them and they always recognize me, they even call me “ 一姊”* (Yi-Jie,). I also had the chance to visit their Berlin Design Headquarters a few times and had a great time with all of them. And Panerai was my second watch.
一姊* – Yi-Jie, a great and respectful title for women in Chinese.
NOMOS Tangente EXPO 2000, Laura’s first mechanical watch, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Panerai Radiomir Black Seal, Laura’s second mechanical watch, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: Which watch(es) holds special meaning to you and why?
@capital LAURA: One would be my AP Philosophique, which I bought in a vintage store in Taiwan. I wore it even once to an AP VIP event and most people did not recognize it. I love the Golden Age of watchmaking from 1980 to 2000. I feel creativity was the strongest then and it is my wish to bring people back to this area.
Laura sitting in Audemars Piguet Boutique in Shanghai, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Audemars Piguet Musée Atelier,Switzerland,Photo Courtesy of @Audemars Piguet
TC: What brands are you drawn to?
@capital LAURA: I admire Stephen Forsey from Greubel Forsey and Roger Dubuis. Vianney Halter is also one of my favorite watchmakers. Additionally, I admire Max Büsser’s creativity as well as that of the brand Urwerk.
Stephen Forsey, Photo Courtesy of @Greubel Forsey
Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° ,Photo Courtesy of @Greubel Forsey
Stephen Forsey and Laura, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
Roger Dubuis, Photo Courtesy of @Roger Dubuis
Roger Dubuis Excalibur, Photo Courtesy of @capital LAURA
TC: Is there a holy grail watch, one that you aspire to own someday, and why?
@capital LAURA: That would be an F.P. Journe Resonance. I admire him. I had a conversation with him one day in Geneva but the translation that day was really bad. Somehow even when he explained the mechanism in French I somehow understood everything.
F.P.Journe Chronomètre à Résonance,Photo Courtesy of @F.P.Journe
TC: How do you see the market today?
@capital LAURA: I feel like many brands are today driven from a fashion perspective. It is often marketing driven which I find a bit disappointing. I think the brand presentation should be more sophisticated, one doesn’t have to please everyone.
TC: What advice would you give younger people who want to start collecting?
@capital LAURA: I tell people to buy a watch which they love at first sight. Don’t listen to anyone nor to the brand. Watches bear your story. Keep buying, keep loving and keep learning.
TC: Thank you Laura for sharing with us your experiences and great vision in the industry.
@capital LAURA: Thank you Tidlos Craft team.