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Anne Yitzhakov of Cartier: ‘We value a rich history and timeless designs’ | Philstar.com
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Anne Yitzhakov of Cartier: ‘We value a rich history and timeless designs’

LIFE AND STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil - The Philippine Star
Anne Yitzhakov of Cartier: âWe value a rich history and timeless designsâ
‘Cartier is actually a younger brand. Our designs appeal to all generations. In Asia, our Gen Z clients are growing.’

Think Cartier and at once the Love Bracelet comes to mind, symbolizing everlasting love, every romantic’s arm accessory since its launch in 1969.

Or the Santos wristwatch, which was created in 1904 after aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont complained that pocket watches for men were not practical.

Or the jewelry which icons have loved through the years, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and Andy Warhol.

Since its establishment in Paris in 1847 by watchmaker Louis Francois Cartier, this brand, renowned for its watches, fine jewelry and gems, has become one of the world’s most coveted brands.

With the panther as its iconic symbol — wild and untamable — Cartier leaps towards modernity while retaining its traditional values.

In town last year for the opening of the Cartier boutique in Greenbelt 3 was Anne Yitzhakov, Cartier’s managing director for Singapore, ASEAN countries and the Philippines. I was privileged to have a conversation with this dynamic woman. Excerpts:

PHILIPPINE STAR: You were in Manila for the opening of Cartier’s boutique in its new location in Greenbelt 3, our most luxurious mall. This boutique shows much respect to Philippine culture through the artistic metaphors and allusions to our local heritage. How do you feel about the warm reception to Cartier’s new boutique here?

ANNE YITZHAKOV: The very warm reception and excitement that we have received from our clients and partners has been truly heartwarming. The new boutique essentially pays homage to the country and its rich culture.

Cartier has enjoyed a longstanding presence in the Philippines, and this new boutique is a true testimony to the great potential we see ahead in this market.

Cartier itself, having been founded in 1847, is rich in heritage and history. Your jewelry as well as watches have been part of the lives of European royalty and international personages. Do the storied beginnings of a brand contribute to its mystique and appeal?

Our rich history surely contributes to the Maison’s appeal, as well as our unparalleled legacy of timeless designs and unique shapes. Those speak to all generations and a diverse range of clients, including millennials who represent a large proportion of our clients. In Asia, we have seen the number of Gen Z clients growing — we are actually a “younger” brand than many may think.

Cartier’s origins are rooted in the craft of watchmaking. There have been iconic Cartier watches since then — from the Santos, which began in an era of pocket watches and was designed for a pilot, to the Tank, which was inspired by Renault tanks on the World War I battlefields, to the Pasha, which was supposedly commissioned by the Pasha of Marrakech, to Ballon Bleu and Panthère, which are both regarded as jewelry pieces as well. How much of Cartier’s clients are watch connoisseurs and collectors?

Cartier’s clientele of watch connoisseurs and collectors appreciate one-of-a-kind pieces, which have the special value of rarity — unique design and limited edition combined. As the numbers vary from market to market, it’s hard to pinpoint the proportion of clients who are watch connoisseurs and collectors. We are celebrated as the watchmaker of shapes, and the Crash and the Tank Cintrée are one of the most desirable designs amongst our collectors.

Love bracelets, a symbol of free-spirited love, is a hit among young clientele

Because today’s cellphones serve as timepieces as well, are watches today bought as style statements and collectible items? Do people today buy watches for their technology or aesthetic values?

Our intention has always been to make beautiful watchmaking creations, where technology comes in support of the design only. Once a year, we put specific shapes back into the limelight, and these quickly become collectibles. Shapes from 1905 to the 1970s — the Crash, Tank Cintrée, Tank Asymétrique, and the Tonneau — have been relaunched with great success. Re-editions or anniversary celebrations like the Pebble are also very popular amongst our clientele, locally and globally.

And regarding jewelry, are they being purchased in modern times as ornaments or as investments? What has been the behavior of the market, especially during the pandemic?

Jewelry pieces serve as beautiful ornaments and as investments. Globally, the pandemic acted as a catalyst for Cartier jewelry. Clients began to perceive jewelry not only as beautiful adornments but also as valuable assets. With travel restrictions in place, we focused on nurturing and expanding our local clientele. This shift allowed us to adapt our strategy to be more localized, tailoring our offerings to the preferences and needs of our local customers. As a result, we witnessed significant growth in the jewelry segment.

What have been the Cartier bestsellers of all time? Both in jewelry and watches?

Many of our collections have seen tremendous success over the last century, such as Love, Juste un Clou, Trinity, Ballon Bleu, Santos and Tank. These century- old collections transcend time and continue to have a very strong appeal across multiple generations. It is also these iconic collections that resonate the most with the Filipino clientele.

You have been with Cartier for 18 years and now hold the position of Managing Director for Cartier Singapore, ASEAN and Malaysia. What were the biggest challenges you have faced in the luxe market?

Along my 18 years with Cartier across different roles and continents, I have seen different challenges arise.

Firstly, the digital revolution has transformed the way consumers engage with luxury brands. Cartier has embraced this shift by enhancing our online presence and creating immersive digital experiences that complement the in-store experience.

Another key challenge of the moment is sustainability. Cartier has long taken significant steps to ensure responsible sourcing of materials and ethical practices throughout our supply chain. This commitment to sustainability resonates with the expectation of our clients worldwide.

While challenges persist in the luxury market, Cartier’s ability to stay true to its heritage while embracing innovation and agility has allowed us to thrive and continue, offering timeless pieces that resonate with our clientele.

The Santos watch was inspired by aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont

Studies show that more women are now the leaders in government, business and the arts and culture fields. I noticed that leadership roles in Cartier are held by women, which is empowering. Has gender ever been an issue in your career? Do you consider it an advantage or disadvantage? Can you tell me more about the Maison’s drive to empower and impact women?

Cartier has a longstanding commitment towards women empowerment. Women have played a pivotal role for Cartier both externally and internally. Two-thirds of our employees are women, with more than half in leadership positions. In addition, Cartier has two flagship initiatives focused on empowering women: the Cartier Women’s Initiative, an annual entrepreneurship program founded in 2006 empowering women impact entrepreneurs.

Cartier Philanthropy is a grant-making foundation established in 2012, supporting NGOs that promote the economic and social development of women while providing access to basic services, encouraging the responsible management of natural resources, and delivering humanitarian assistance during natural disasters.

How do you perceive the future of the jewelry and watchmaking business?

There will always be a demand for timeless and meaningful creations that showcase exceptional craftsmanship and savoir-faire, so we are optimistic about growth across the region. Regardless of where we come from, Cartier creations hold a special place in people’s lives, often marking significant celebrations and milestones.

What trends now prevail in jewelry and watchmaking? What does the market favor at present? What do we expect to see from Cartier in the coming years?

It is important for us to start from the design, not to follow trends. We will continue to cultivate our identity and what makes Cartier creations unique by exploring our rich heritage, focusing on shape, elegance, refinement, sophistication, attention to detail. Many of our icons — like the Tank Must or Tank Louis Cartier watches or Juste Un Clou bracelet — transcend time and are genderless.

* * *

Cartier boutiques are located in Greenbelt 3, Edsa Shangri-La Mall and Solaire Shoppes.

Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at mmmananquil@philstarmedia.com and milletman88@gmail.com.

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