High Touch, High Tech

“What’s your pleasure?” The question that is typically limited to one’s choice of drinks is really what underlies custom-made luxury goods.

For those customers who can afford it, the appeal of luxury purchases is not just a matter of having something that is made specifically for them. Now AR can help them visualize that item, and how it truly reflects the desires at the heart of their lives.

We’ve become familiar with practical use of AR for brands like IKEA, allowing shoppers to visualize furniture in their rooms. Luxury brand are also seeing the possibilities in the technology. For example, Gucci recently released an app that allows people to “try on” a pair of shoes via AR. You can see it in action in this video:

Just as AR can show you virtual shoes on your feet, it can show you a virtual watch on your wrist — even if the watch has yet to be made. That is the approach of Alexandre Meerson, the founder and owner of the luxury watch brand.

Meerson explained to me that no one really needs a watch today, so the selling point for it is not in its function so much as its style. His clients appreciate the fact that if they limit themselves to what is ready-made, they are also limiting themselves to “average quality.”

People buy these watches that are handcrafted in Switzerland by 88 craftsmen to obtain something that really reflects what they are about, and that is worth passing on to the next generation. Meerson calls them “mechanical sculptures.”

He added that “even young clients love the idea of an individual watch that no one else has and that really reflects their personality.” So figuring out what really makes them tick (no pun intended) is at the center of the creative process.

The fully customized watches are not the result of individuals stipulating which color combinations and options to use, but of what Meerson is able to infer about them from conversations. After they place an order, he speaks to them about what brings them happiness in their lives. Elements associated with those experiences and settings are worked into a watch design intended to surprise and delight them.

It must be worth the wait, as the watches take three to 36 weeks to complete. But customers don’t have to wait in suspense for that long to see what the watch actually would look in 3D, thanks to AR. See the video of how the watch design emerges from the screen:

Alexandre Meerson Augmented Reality from Alexandre Meerson on Vimeo.

Meerson uses the tech to allow clients to see the design in 3D. He also finds it useful for carrying a kind of virtual catalog, without having to worry about security or customs, when he travels from his UK base to Paris, New York, Wyoming, Tokyo, and other locations, where he holds special events, and meets with clients or potential clients. That’s the way he adds a layer personal connection to a brand that was, in his words, “born in the internet.”

Meerson’s revolutionary idea in launching his luxury brand was to base it in eCommerce, but also retain the feeling of a French maison in which clients are treated like friends by the designer who maintains a close relationship with them. The approach was radical in the conservative world of handcrafted Swiss watches.

Meerson believed that the combination of online presence, social media, and in-person events, would work — and it has for his brand. His line of custom-designed watches marry old-world craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology in a harmonious relationship that centers on delivering customer satisfaction; anticipated through AR.

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