First Longines Boutique in Caribbean opens here

PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten’s main street – Front Street – is now home to the Caribbean’s first flagship Longines Boutique. The luxury horologe store was inaugurated officially on Friday evening in the presences of Longines Ambassador of Elegance and women’s tennis icon Stefanie “Steffi” Graf and Longines Vice-President Charles Villoz.

Longines is the latest luxury brand to grace Front Street in the past decade. The street has been attracting more and more flagship stores from luxury brands that recognise the country’s strategic position in the Caribbean and its mature tourism product.

Mike Mirpuri, partner of Longines in St. Maarten for many years and operator of the newest luxury boutique in the Dutch side’s capital, said: “We are ecstatic to be part of this project and partner the brand in its first flagship boutique in the Caribbean. My family and I have been representing the brand for quite some time in the area and we are confident we will be able to further satisfy the needs of our clients and elevate the shopping experience on the island of St. Maarten.”

Swiss watchmaker Longines is the definition of fine craftsmanship and its expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance, Mirpuri said.

Villoz said, “International customers, watch enthusiasts and collectors will have the opportunity to view Longines watches in the first Longines boutique in the Caribbean, thus offering a large range of choice amongst our collections, from the elegant to the sports models, including the watch-making tradition and the heritage lines.”

He said Longines had seized the opportunity to open a boutique in St. Maarten that should meet the expectations of demanding customers. What also propelled the country as the preferred locale for the boutique is that St. Maarten’s economy is mostly tourism-based and the island is a popular stop for cruise ships and stay-over visitors, among whom are Longines collectors and prospective clients.

Villoz told The Daily Herald the choice of opening boutiques in the Caribbean, starting here in St. Maarten, had grown from the region being an important market for watches. People on holiday are “relaxed and tend to spend more on beautiful things,” he said.

And spending more they are, at least on Longines timepieces. The luxury watch boutique is poised to “break even” at the end of this year, said Villoz. The boutique’s doors have been opened to discerning watch buyers for almost a year now, although the inauguration only now has taken place.

The forecast for its second year of business is “absolutely positive” as visitors and residents continue their affinity with the brand.

St. Maarten, Front Street in particular, is a great location for a mono-brand boutique, he said, although there was a bit of reservation from some businesses along the street about the opening of the boutique. Now that has dissipated, as the brand added more prestige to the street, he said.

Villoz, who was in St. Maarten last in the mid-1990s, said the country has a somewhat European feel, but maintains its “Caribbean essence. … It has a certain kind of flair.”

At the inauguration ceremony, Graf’s own Longines watch from the Conquest Classic collection was the talk of the elegant reception. Graf’s watch was a stainless steel and pink gold model with diamond-set bezel. The women’s tennis icon said, “I am very pleased to be invited to share this important moment and show my support to Longines. The location of the picturesque and luxurious island of St. Maarten fits to the elegance of the brand and its timepieces.”

On the occasion of the Longines boutique opening, Graf unveiled the new short film directed by Longines and featuring a day in the life of the Longines Ambassador of Elegance. This short film belongs to a series of short cuts entitled “A day in life with,” showing the Ambassadors of Elegance representing the Swiss watch brand at events of which the brand is Official Partner and Timekeeper. The films are aired on the Longines Channel at .

Graf has belonged to the star-studded family of Longines Ambassadors of Elegance since 2008. Since she retired from tennis, she has been devoting her time to the charitable foundation she set up called “Children for Tomorrow.”

The aim of the Graf’s foundation is to provide help for children and families that have suffered the trauma of war, exile and violence. The luxury watchmaker said that through her courage, commitment and generosity, Graf was the perfect embodiment of Longines’ values and slogan: “Elegance is an attitude.”

Longines has been based at Saint-Imier in Switzerland since 1832. Its watch-making expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. Longines has generations of experience as official timekeeper of world championships and as partner of international sports federation.

Known for the elegance of its timepieces, Longines is a member of the Swatch Group Ltd, the world’s leading manufacturer of horological products. With the winged hourglass as its emblem, the brand has outlets in more than 140 countries.

Nassau in the Bahamas will be the next destination in the Caribbean where Longines will open its doors.

Source: The Daily Herald First Longines Boutique in Caribbean opens here