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by Pierre Maillard, Editor-in-chief

To saturate is to combine, mix or dissolve different elements until it is impossible to add more.” Isn’t this precisely what is happening today with high-class Swiss watches? By “high-class”, we mean the overwhelming majority of mechanical watches produced in Switzerland; indeed, for most people on our planet, spending CHF 1,000 or more for a watch is a quite a luxury. For some twenty years – one generation – Swiss watchmaking has combined its mechanisms and introduced all sorts of complexities, mixed shapes and materials, dissolving its initial primary function as a time indicator. To the point where it has become impossible to add more – which fits the definition of saturation cited above. The watch market is indeed full to the brim with a wide variety of products.

4 | EDITORIAL | europa star

Highly inventive, ingenious, stunning, beautiful and sometimes crazy watches (over-saturated, perhaps?) are hitting the market at an increasing pace, driven by the rhythm of the fashion industry. However, the built-in obsolescence of a little summer dress, designed to last just one season, should bear no relation to the lifecycle of a mechanical watch, one of the primary qualities of which is precisely its permanent challenge against obsolescence. This type of growth model has been fostered by expanding watch distribution networks – a geographical expansion signalled by the opening of new markets, such as China or Russia, but also what we might call a “vertical” expansion. Within mature markets, brands have rebuilt their own distribution networks by opening their own-name boutiques ... saturating the market to such an extent that it is impossible to add more (better close some).

Further growth can thus only be achieved by taking market share from other competing operators. Consequently, “the area of the struggle is extending”, to paraphrase the title of a famous book by French writer Michel Houellebecq. New anticipated growth drivers or new “watch Eldorados”, whether in Asia or elsewhere, will not fully replace old, saturated and exhausted markets. One can therefore reasonably expect an outbreak of hostilities. One upstream watchmaking sector is already facing serious turbulence: the supply of Swiss mechanical movements now far exceeds current demand. In this issue, we dedicate a special dossier to this complex and potentially conflictual situation, which may well forecast what is about to happen – or is already happening? — further downstream. So, should we expect a new wave of consolidation? And yet, at the same time, there is an astonishing burgeoning of new watch companies, like fresh spring growth. Brands are popping up as if by spontaneous generation, many of them created through crowdfunding platforms. Not all of these newcomers will be successful, but some of them may become the future players of a revised and updated watchmaking industry. We shall certainly be revisiting this issue. p

Photo: The deputy firing a .38 caliber revolver straight at his chest. (National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. | colored version: zuzahin)


Escale Time Zone.



PATEK PHILIPPE GRANDMASTER CHIME REF. 6300 Caliber GS AL 36750 QIS FUS IRM Manually wound mechanical movement, 20 complications, chiming mechanism with 3 gongs and 5 different time strikes (Grande and Petite Sonnerie, minute repeater, alarm with time strike, date repeater); second time zone with day/night indicator; instantaneous perpetual calendar (date on both sides, day of week, month, leap-year cycle, four-digit year display, 24-hour and minute subdial, moon phases, strikework mode display, strikework isolator display, alarm ON/OFF, crown position indicator, and power reserve indicators for the movement and the strikework.

PATEK PHILIPPE SA Ch. du Pont-du-Centenaire 141 CH 1211 Genève 2 Switzerland Tel. : +41 (0)22 884 20 20

EDITORIAL Outbreak of hostilities COVER STORY Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300: A symphony of 20 complications

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SPECIAL REPORT – MECHANICAL MOVEMENTS Stormy weather for movements Who does what? Who thinks what?


MARKET FOCUS The promise of Iran

36 38 46

BRANDS The fairer sex in the eyes of Ralph Lauren Corum: in the middle lane Citizen’s changing times

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EUROPA STAR ARCADE All eyes on Anonimo Jean Marcel, vertical limit Greco, a watchmaking meteorite Ollivier Savéo, back to baroque


PORTRAIT Cindy Livingston: the end of an era


KEEP CALM & CARRY ON Brexit: Brewing Exit?


LAKIN@LARGE If you can’t fix it, Brexit

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SPOTLIGHTS The Movado Edge: an icon revisited Casio Edifice EQB-600 Smartphone Link Series: The world at your wrist
















The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily Europa Star. Europa Star subscription service: CHF 75 in Europe, CHF 100 International | One year, 5 issues | Visit: | Enquiries:

6 | CONTENTS | europa star


by the motorist of time


WITH LONG AUTONOMY MEASUREMENTS : FROM Ø 11.00 mm-FROM HEIGHT 0.98 mm DOUBLED AUTONOMY FOR CAL. 901.001| 902.002| 902.101 COLLECTION E01| E03 | E61| 210 | 280 | 282|901| 902| 976 | 980 WITH OR WITHOUT SWEEP SECOND OR SMALL SECOND




Taken in the context of Patek Philippe’s history, it’s a pretty major event. The new Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 has just unseated the famous Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 6002 to take the title of most complicated wristwatch in the Geneva watchmaker’s current collection. That’s to use the concept of “current” in its broadest possible sense, since the extreme complexity of the watch dictates a very limited annual production, which means that the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 will remain a very rare timepiece indeed. It will also be highly sought after, representing as it does the culmination of the long and illustrious history of Patek Philippe and its enduring love affair with chiming watches – a history that goes back more than 175 years. by Pierre Maillard

MASTERY OF SOUND The movement of the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 comprises 1366 components, with a further 214 in its reversible case. It boasts 20 complications (see list below), including five different chiming functions. These five functions tell the entire history of Patek Philippe’s patient mastery of sound complications in all their richness, complexity and mechanical potential. Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about the watchmaker’s “conquest” of sound (a wonderful book entitled Répétitions Minutes, published by Patek Philippe, tells you everything you need to know). Let us simply say that the story began on 4 September 1839, barely five months after the company was created, when a sum of money

8 | COVER STORY | europa star


was exchanged for a pocket watch with a quarter-repeater. It was the 19th watch made by the fledgling firm, what we would probably call a “startup” today. From that moment on, the history of chiming watches and the history of the Geneva watchmaker would be inextricably linked. Since its first minute repeater, which was sold in 1845, and throughout the next 60 years, Patek Philippe would produce many variations on the theme of repeaters, combining them with all manner of complications: perpetual calendars, flyback chronographs, time zones, equation of time, etc. Through this process, the pursuit of ever-smaller movements and components led to the creation of the first repeating wristwatch, a ladies’ five-minute repeater created in 1916. From 1925 minute repeaters joined the company’s regular output while remaining somewhat exceptional, since production never exceeded the tens of units. The first wristwatch to feature a minute repeater in combination with other complications – in the event a perpetual calendar with windows, indication of the date by hand and moon phase – dates from 1939. Up until the 1960s, when demand regrettably began to decline, some thirty minute repeaters were produced. In the ’80s, however, Philippe Stern, who had a hunch that exceptional mechanical watchmaking was due to make a comeback, authorised the production of two minute repeaters

with complications, using old blanks from the Vallée de Joux (Patek Philippe traditionally finished and assembled movement blanks from other suppliers). Although they were the last to be made in this way, they effectively ushered in a new era. This new era, of which the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 is part, was symbolically marked by the famous Calibre 89, manufactured to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary in 1989. To produce this exceptional piece, an acoustic research and development laboratory was virtually set up from scratch, and it would lead to birth of a new generation of chiming watches. The 33 complications of the Calibre 89 include a minute repeater, a Grande Sonnerie and a Petite Sonnerie. This phenomenal achievement was quickly followed up with an ultrathin automatic minute repeater with a patented micro-rotor, and an automatic version with perpetual calendar, both of which made the most of the technical advances that had been made for the Calibre 89, and which were also launched as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations. A new generation of striking wristwatches would see the light of day, culminating today in the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300.

slim and leaving room for further complications to be added without the finished watch becoming unwieldy. This cleared the way for future developments, such as the advent just a few short years later of the Ref. 3939, a tourbillon minute repeater, which successfully joined the company’s main collection. Finally, the engineers attacked the formidable central issue of the gongs, the key component of a chiming watch, production

DECISIVE IMPROVEMENTS This new generation of chiming wristwatches would not have seen the light of day without the research undertaken in pursuit of the Calibre 89. For the first time, pure watchmakers were supported by engineers. The specially created workshop set to work immediately to solve certain technical “problems” that had hitherto been somewhat neglected. One such issue was the rather unpleasant buzzing that sometimes detracted from the tone of the gong. This background noise was a mechanical side-effect generated inside the regulation system of the chime’s recoil escapement mechanism. Some attempts were made to fix it back in the 19th century, but the problem never really went away. Patek Philippe’s engineers developed a solution by using a completely silent flywheel that would open and close depending on the speed, thus regulating the rhythm and duration of the strike. The pure tones could finally be fully appreciated, without any interference. Another notable improvement, and one that marked a break with tradition, was the design and production for the first time of an automatic minute repeater. This was achieved through an off-centred micro-rotor (inspired by the Calibre 240, a very slim Patek Philippe movement). The main advantage of this solution was that it left the centre of the movement clear for the minute repeater mechanism, thus keeping the movement acceptably


of which had virtually ceased in the 1960s. By seeking out some old watchmakers in the Vallée de Joux who were ready to give up some of their secrets (although not all...) and at the same time joining forces with Lausanne’s prestigious technology institute, the EPFL, to launch research programmes in metallurgy, Patek Philippe was able to gain a better understanding of the variables involved in sound production, transmission and quality. This scientific approach, making use of accurately measured acoustic data that could be read off a graph, significantly improved gong performance. It finally became possible to measure variables such as sound intensity, rhythm, harmony, pitch, duration, warmth and richness, both accurately and reliably. Nevertheless, science has its limits, and the most important factor for a strikework complication is that the sounds it produces should complement its case perfectly. Given that each watch has its own individual character, this is not entirely predictable, which is why every striking watch produced by Patek Philippe is personally approved. These days, the buck stops with company president Thierry Stern who, after a series of painstaking acoustic trials, either passes the watch or sends it back to the workshop. u

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THE 20 COMPLICATIONS OF THE PATEK PHILIPPE GRANDMASTER CHIME REF. 6300 B Grande Sonnerie C Petite Sonnerie D Minute repeater E Strikework mode display (Silence / Grande Sonnerie / Petite Sonnerie) F Alarm with time strike G Date repeater H Movement power-reserve indicator I Strikework power-reserve indicator J Strikework isolator display K Second time zone L Second time zone day / night indicator M Instantaneous perpetual calendar N Day-of-the-week display O Month display P Date display (both dials) Q Leap year cycle R Four-digit year display S 24-hour and minute subdial T Moon phase U Crown position indicator (winding / alarm setting / time setting)

PERPETUAL CHIMES In October 2014, for its 175th anniversary, Patek Philippe unveiled a commemorative collection which included the company’s first wristwatch with both grande and petite sonnerie, in a limited edition of seven. The calibre within, whose complex construction is matched by its name – the GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM – also drives the new Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300, now part of the manufacture’s current collection. This timepiece is the end product of all those years of research, which not only opened up the full potential of sound complications, but also led to the development of new solutions for combining strikework mechanisms with other complications. In a way, it represents the consummation of Patek Philippe’s patient and rigorous approach. Nevertheless, the watch’s extreme complexity is no obstacle to everyday wear. The reversible double-sided case (activated by an ingenious patented rotation mechanism which is both secure and very easy to use) nestled between the bracelet fittings means it is possible to wear the watch with either one of its dials uppermost. The essential information – hour, minute and date – is displayed on both dials, but the opaline ebony black dial is devoted largely to the various strikework modes, while the white opaline dial showcases the instantaneous perpetual calendar. On the TIME SIDE, the watch offers a symphony of time, with grande and petite sonnerie, minute repeater, an alarm and a date repeater that strikes the date on demand. Twin barrels dedicated to the strikework modes provide a 30hour power reserve and guarantee that the watch will continue to strike all day without the need for manual rewinding. The grande sonnerie automatically strikes the hours with a low tone, and the hour and quarters every quarter-hour (with triple strikes on three gongs, rather than the more usual double strike). The petite sonnerie does the same, without repeating the hour count on the quarter-hours. The minute repeater strikes the time on demand, sounding the hours, quarter-hours and minutes since the last quarter. The alarm offers a function hitherto unseen in a wristwatch: it sounds the alarm time with the complete melodic sequence of the minute repeater. Another patented acoustic innovation is the instantaneous date repeater, activated by a pusher on the caseband. The tens are marked with a double high-low tone, and the units with a high tone. (So, for the 25th of the month, it would strike the following sequence: ding-dong, ding-dong, followed by ding-ding-ding-ding-ding.) The time side also displays hour and minute in local time, the hour in a second time zone, alarm time, perpetual calendar date, moon phases, strikework and movement power reserves,

sonnerie mode indicator, on/off indicator for the sonnerie and alarm, crown position indicator (push in to wind the movement in one direction and the strikework mechanism in the other, pull out halfway to set the alarm, and all the way to set the time). The strikework mode is set by means of a small slider at 9 o’clock. The CALENDAR SIDE offers a range of perpetual calendar displays that, except for the year, all jump instantaneously and concurrently. This means that the information for the patented date repeater mechanism is accurate even just before or after midnight. The perpetual calendar indications are shown with hands on four subdials arranged around the central four-figure year window. The month is at 3 o’clock, the date and leap year indication are at 6 o’clock, the day is at 9 o’clock and the 12 o’clock register shows the 24hour time with hour and minute hands. Thanks to a patented mechanism, the year can easily be adjusted backwards or forwards using two pushers.

AN EXCEPTIONAL CASE FOR AN EXCEPTIONAL MOVEMENT Engineering and watchmaking joined forces to achieve greater mastery of sound; engineering and craftsmanship likewise came together to create an exceptional case. The rotation mechanism concealed within the bracelet fittings is perhaps the most striking example. The highly user-friendly patented system allows the watch to rotate around the 12 o’clock / 6 o’clock axis and lock the sizeable case – 47.4 mm in diameter and 16.1 mm thick – securely into place. The extraordinary white gold case is decorated with a rarely seen hand-guilloché Clous de Paris hobnail pattern. This particularly elegant motif is one of the company’s iconic designs, although rarely seen in grand complication watches. The hobnail motif is repeated on the opaline black dial. The white gold applied Breguet numerals and hands and white-printed scales ensure optimum legibility. On the calendar side, the four black sub-dials with their black oxidised steel hands stand out clearly against the white opaline dial. The year is displayed in the dial centre, in a discreet white gold frame. There is one more user-friendly detail: the pushers on the case flank have engraved labels to explain their functions, and the mode indicators on the black opaline dial make it easy for the wearer to see which functions are activated at any given time. Finally, the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 is mounted on a shiny black alligator strap with large square scales and hand-stitched contrast seams, perfectly complementing the white on black / black on white of the double dial. p

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STORMY WEATHER All crises are revelatory and speed up or crystallise – in the chemical meaning of the term – an embryonic situation. This is particularly true of the key sector of mechanical movements. The current watchmaking crisis – which we believe is not only situational but systemic – starkly reveals a serious issue: the current overcapacity in movement production. How did it come to this and who are the major players in this sector? What trends are to be expected? Europa Star has investigated.

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by Pierre & Serge Maillard In collaboration with Inès Aloui and Pierre-Yves Schmid


as it “written” from the start when Nicolas Hayek took the controversial decision to gradually cease deliveries of ETA movements to third parties? Was it imaginable at the time, in the wind of panic that started to blow among rival groups and brands, that this decision, deemed catastrophic at the time, would stimulate initiatives to such a degree? Today, while storm clouds are gathering and becoming a durable part of the landscape, supply now largely exceeds demand. To what extent? There is a basic method to do the maths: in mid-2016, Swiss watchmaking fell by about 16%. This figure roughly corresponds to the drop in ETA deliveries. But if, as Nick Hayek warned, ETA is effectively losing its dominance, which is not yet the case – far from it –, it is also largely due to the number of competitors that have acquired much greater independence.

HOW IT ALL STARTED Everything started around 2002-2003 when ETA and the Swatch Group clashed with certain ‘finishers’. The latter included Sellita and La Joux-Perret. They organised resistance and, at the same time, considerably bolstered their own production means. And that is only one example. The decision taken by the Swatch Group to gradually reduce its sales of mechanical movements to third parties and ultimately end all deliveries, except for a few carefully selected brands, also gave a very serious boost to rival watchmaking groups. The late Nicolas Hayek’s wishes to “thus stimulate the development of alternatives” came true, and well beyond his expectations. Despite the risk, almost 15 years on, of backfiring on his own group’s interests! To deal with the threat identified in 2002, everyone started to gear up their industrialisation plans and win back their autonomy. Richemont made a considerable

effort with its own manufactures., TAG Heuer embarked on industrialisation, and Rolex achieved full autonomy. All this ended up by cutting the umbilical cord that organically linked Swiss watchmaking to ETA. Not to mention the countless independent initiatives that were taken, the specialisations and the whole field of innovations that opened up. Because demand was everywhere. Everyone wanted to own their own mechanical movement. But not everyone had the necessary means. “We are not a supermarket here for your weekly shop,” is what the Swatch Group essentially said. Indeed, for the past 30 years, the whole Swiss watchmaking industry had rushed to the aisles of ETA which offered a gamut of trusted, precise, tested and repairable movements. The most cunning players were quick to latch on. At the peak of the trend for mechanical watches, once they were properly packed, encased in gold and studded with diamonds, these rustic mechanical watches could fetch very large sums of money. Especially in the realm of new watchmaking conquests. Asia, the Orient, international hubs, new shopping malls, rich crowds of customers hitherto ignorant of watchmaking... Nicolas Hayek therefore had reasons to believe that he had become a cash cow, at least for some.

“We currently see that third-party orders have slumped to such an extent that we will no longer be in a dominant position by 2017.” Nick Hayek, Le Temps, 21 July 2016

THE 2012 DECISION The COMCO, the Swiss Competition Commission, managed more or less to keep a close watch and, through legal action and compromises, kindness and dirty tricks, the decision was taken ten years later. In 2012, the Swatch Group was officially allowed to apply its timetable: “a 15% reduction of deliveries of mechanical movements to brands using them for their own watches, and a 30% reduction to customers who also have a movement production unit but do not make their own completed watches.” That was just the beginning. As for strategic balance springs and assortments, for which the group holds a virtual monopoly (90%) through Nivarox-FAR, “an initial reduction of 5% on 2010 orders” was announced.

Today, with the advent of a systemic crisis that few headquarters had anticipated, what is the status of the supply of Swiss mechanical movements? Not forgetting that, in this new landscape, fresh ambitions are burgeoning. Citizen, for example, the global heavyweight in Japanese watchmaking, does not conceal its intentions and is calmly positioning its pawns in the Swiss game [see the article by Joe Thompson in this issue]. Germany is seriously waking up. Nomos, for example, which became independent by producing its own movements and selling its reasonably priced watches successfully, has become a case study for others. Not to mention Chinese watchmaking, which our watchmakers still tend to look down on but which is spectacularly gaining ground in the improvement of its mechanical productions. So the battle looks tough and some people we met in the industry even talk about a ‘cold war’ of movements. A ‘war’ that is particularly tough given that stocks are full. It is even said that some major brands have stockpiles for one or two years! Not to mention the many retailers who are brimming over with goods.

SUPPLY NOW EXCEEDS DEMAND The obligation on ETA to deliver to third parties runs until 31 December 2019. In 2016-2017 ETA was authorised to deliver no more than 65% of what it had delivered on average between 20092011, ‘equally’ regardless of the customer. Has it stuck to this timetable? The question is worth asking. “Have you heard it said that ETA lacked customers? I can’t criticise my salespeople for wanting to sell,” stated Nick Hayek to our colleague at Le Temps. “We never said we didn’t want to sell any more to anyone, but that we wanted to be able to choose our customers,” he also explained. Is the

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giant doing a U-turn? And what will happen between now and the fateful date of 2019? The situation is so confused that no-one will hazard a guess. The crisis has turned everything upside down. And we can’t forget another factor: the arrival of the connected watch which has just further muddied the waters. What will become of the mechanical watch? Will it lose its status once and for all? No one we interviewed believes that scenario and all are convinced that the mechanical movement, that ‘cultural product’, is here to stay. In the meantime, the anxiety remains palpable. “Within a year or so, the market will include too many manufacturers of entry level mechanical calibres priced between 50 and 300 francs. ETA has resumed delivery of movements, opening the door to very competitive prices,” Valérien Jaquet, a manager at Concepto, in La Chaux-deFonds, told Europa Star. “Supply of movements on the market is too high, it’s becoming a real problem,” added Jean-Daniel Dubois, of Vaucher Manufacture. Sébastien Gigon, of Technotime, is extremely angry and does not beat about the bush, telling Europa Star that he is “very surprised at ETA’s U-turn, which we believe is unethical. You can’t take legal action [through COMCO] to reduce deliveries, call on alternative solutions then change your position according to market conditions. It’s neither consistent nor the right attitude for an industry leader. Nicolas Hayek Senior had a vision that saved the Swiss watchmaking industry. Now, the whole ecosystem is threatened. People have invested heavily. So is it all a Machiavellian plot to get rid of alternative

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suppliers? Ronda will also suffer, having invested 25 million francs. For the time being, we can’t see any reactions among our competitors, but they will come. We cannot take ETA to court as they have taken all the right precautions through their legal advisers. We’re attacking them from an ethical angle. Legally, we can do nothing but morally, it’s not right.” Not everyone, however, is fundamentally upset at seeing ETA return to centre stage and put things back in order – as the “vacuum” created was rapidly filled, but not always with the most Swiss of pedigrees... Pascal Dubois, co-director of the Dubois-Dépraz movement manufacture and specialist of the additional module, present at the EPHJ show with a range of new features, agreed that “when ETA closed the tap, it opened opportunities for ‘cheats’. If reopening it may get rid of those that did not make genuine Swiss made movements, at least it will clean up the market.”

THE STATE OF PLAY Against this strained backdrop and in these circumstances that offer very little medium-term (never mind long-term) visibility, several projects and developments, requiring heavy investment, are nevertheless coming to maturity. At Baselworld this spring, ETA was back with a stand, after being absent since 2011. A stone’s throw away, Ronda, previously restricted to the quartz field, where it is the only genuine credible Swiss competitor, launched its first mechanical movement with much fanfare. This development had been in the pipeline for several years and required very heavy investment – around 25 million Swiss francs. At the same time, Oris announced its intention to gear up with its own movements [on this subject, see our article in the previous issue of Europa Star 3/16]. Eterna Movement also announced new ambitions... These

are just some of the most representative examples. To establish the facts, Europa Star tried to take stock of the current situation. Collating all this information and these opinions was not an easy task. People are obviously afraid of the giant Swatch Group. (The Swatch Group did not respond to our efforts to contact them or to our requests for interviews). In the past 10 years, ETA has continued major R&D efforts and has managed to develop COSC certified movements for watches under 1,000 Swiss francs on existing foundations and has managed to increase the power reserve of basic movements up to 3 days. ETA keeps these ‘new’, more high performing movements for the group’s brands – which can be considered fair enough but which gives them a decisive competitive edge. “The concentration process will continue during the current crisis and I am convinced that the major dominant groups secretly dream of the survival of only 30 or 40 brands,” confided an anonymous specialist in the field. And very recently, in July, ETA increased its prices by 1.8% across the board (COMCO forces it to sell at the same price internally and externally). Meanwhile, a new battle is looming on the horizon. As another of our anonymous sources explained, “ETA cannot afford to dump as they still have the monopoly. And according to the agreement with COMCO, it would be illegal for them to increase the number of customers to whom they deliver. They therefore want to modify this agreement so that, in the event of fewer orders being placed than expected by their current customers, they may be free to deliver to whomever they want.” This has not yet been settled. But a certain weariness, including at COMCO, is beginning to set in. This state of affairs has lasted too long. Some believe, “we should now let everyone do what they want to do.” Will the crisis lead to a consensus? No one can claim that yet. u




Handcrafted in-house movement. Manufacture Collection: in-house developed, in-house produced and in-house assembled movements.

More information on

Frederique Constant, Chemin du Champ des Filles 32, CH-1228 Plan-les-Ouates, Switzerland




TA owes its name to... Eterna. ETA is the legacy of the first genuine ébauche manufacture founded in 1856, which, in 1906, became Eterna Werke, Gebrüder Schild & Co, a company that sold watches under the name of Eterna and movements under the name of Eta. In 1924, the company was legally di-

automation policy which led it to occupy a substantially dominant position in the sector. The firm issues no figures, but it is estimated that its annual production of mechanical movements is as high as 5 to 6 million units. Its sister company, Nivarox-FAR, manufacturer of the fa-

thus supported, and even been essential to, the rise of mechanical watchmaking, in Switzerland and elsewhere. The most commonly found ETA calibre is the famous 2824-2, a so-called “basic” automatic movement with hour, minutes, and seconds at the centre of the Mecaline line. It can be modified, decorated or customised to work in an incalculable number of watches from all brands.

Exploded view of a 2824-2 for Tissot

vided into Eterna SA and Eta SA, which became a subsidiary of Ebauches SA where it rapidly played a crucial role. From 1978, all the different subsidiaries of Ebauches SA were grouped together under the same name, which became ETA SA in 1985 following the formation, in 1983, by Nicolas Hayek, of the SMH group, the initial name of what would become the hegemonic Swatch Group. In a context where no one any longer believed in the future of mechanical watches, ETA, without neglecting quartz, continued a strong R&D, industrial and

16 | MECHANICAL MOVEMENTS | europa star

mous balance springs, enjoys a practical monopoly. It is only recently that some competitors have started to emerge but without really being able to compete in terms of quantity and consistent supply. The main star calibres proposed by ETA, made in tens and even hundreds of thousands of units for many years now, are considered as essential standards: precise, reliable, tried and tested, repairable worldwide by tens of thousands of watchmakers who often know them by heart, they offer practically unbeatable value for money. They have

Another “star” that has contributed to the success of chronograph watches is the Valjoux 7750 which, with its 240 components (i.e. 10% fewer than its competitor at the time, Zenith’s El Primero) paved the way to the “democratisation” of the chronograph. This modifiable “engine” is the base on which top-end chronographs, with column wheel, are built. During our investigation on the current situation in the mechanical movement sector, the Swatch Group, the owner of ETA, declined to respond to our many requests.








ounded in 1946 by William Mosset, father of current CEO, Erich Mosset, Ronda was originally dedicated to the production of spare parts for mechanical calibres. Then, as of 1952, they started to produce calibres under licence to the movement manufacturer PRAC (which has since ceased operations) before receiving the authorisation, then indispensable, to make its own mechanical calibres as of 1961 (initially Roskopf movements then Swiss pallet movements). In 1974, Ronda was one of the first to launch a Swiss quartz movement, then gradually abandoned mechanical movements to focus exclusively on quartz movements, of which it became the largest independent Swiss manufacturer, known for the quality of its products. Nowadays, the Ronda group, established in Switzerland and Thailand, employing 1,800 people (including 700 in Switzerland), makes 20 million quartz movements a year, broken down between Swiss made movements and Swiss parts movements made in Thailand (Ronda does not disclose the respective proportion of these two productions). At Baselworld 2016, Ronda caused a sensation by declaring it was to tackle the mechanical segment with the launch of a new basic movement, the Mecano R150. This announcement precisely coincided with a seemingly saturated market. Bad timing?

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Mecano R150

Erich Mosset: "Yes, things are difficult, there’s no use denying it, but our strategy, defined in 2011, is long term and cannot be linked to an exceptional situation, whether positive, like during the great Chinese bubble, or negative, like today. We are very confident about the current situation as our strategy and plans are based on a normal market, an 'average' market, which will resume sooner or later. We are also relaxed because we live, and we have lived well, for more than 30 years, on quartz, because we have a unique position in this sector which has allowed us to invest 25 million Swiss francs of equity in the development of the Mecano project. We do not expect a rapid return on investment and are free to develop our mechanical offer at our own pace. We consider it as an additional market. We depend on no one, not at all on

the Swatch Group, and we produce most of the Mecano’s components ourselves, including certain parts of the assortments, with the exception of the balance spring. We manufacture the large majority of these components in Switzerland, a minimal proportion in Thailand and assemble our movements in Switzerland. Mecano is only available in Swiss made, and the new Swissness law coming in in 2017 suits us perfectly. Our total independence allows us to listen to and exclusively serve our customers, guaranteeing continuous and safe supply. The impulse given to the return to mechanical products came from these mainly independent Swiss and foreign customers. At the height of the Chinese bubble, they told us to be prepared to buy equivalents of the ETA 2824 (an 11 ½''' automatic calibre, three hands and a calendar) for 100 Swiss francs. But as I said, our strategy cannot be established on the basis of an exceptional situation which we could already anticipate would rebound. We wanted to offer a price that is absolutely competitive. Our Mecano R150 is an automatic 11 ½''' calibre on ball bearings, with three hands and a calendar. It is priced slightly above 60 Swiss francs (for orders of a few thousand units). Its construction, designed from the outset u

with a view to its industrialisation, is completely original. There is nothing of an ETA clone about it but it is ETAcompatible in terms of its encasement. Our medium-term objectives with this movement are to produce several hundred thousand calibres over the next few years. But, for the time being, our prime objective is quality. We have tested it on many occasions. It is reliable, robust and well finished. We are ready

and delivery will start in early 2017. The Ronda Mecano – Cal. R150 illustrates our arrival on the mechanical watch market. It was logical to start with an automatic three-handed calibre. Of course we have ideas on how to develop it, with modules, but also with specific constructions, but we have no intention of rushing things. I repeat, we want to listen to our customers above all as we have a very strong relationship

with them. I am personally very confident as to the future of the mechanical watch. It is a 'genuine watch', an emotional product, which fascinates and will continue to fascinate, and not only in the high-end and luxury ranges. We are positioned in the mid-range, above 1,000 Swiss francs. Moreover, you will observe that above 1,500 Swiss francs to 2,000 Swiss francs, there are very few non-mechanical watches for men."


Safeguarding achievements” is, in Miguel Garcia’s opinion, the priority in this period of strong slowdown. And the ‘achievements’ of Sellita are many, as the Neuchâtel-based company, with a payroll of 500, is the largest competitor of ETA with around 1.4 million mechanical movements produced each year. When, in 2002-2003, Swatch Group announced its decision to gradually reduce its deliveries of completed movements and, above all, its assembly kits, Sellita took action and referred the case to COMCO. At the time, most of its business revolved around the assembly and finishing of ETA kits. This decision therefore threatened its long-term survival. Sellita

– acting as the spokesperson of many major brands that would not directly take on the all-powerful Swatch Group - therefore took two lines of action: with COMCO to strictly frame this progressive withdrawal by ETA which risked strangling it, and the launch of a programme to develop its own movements. To achieve this, it had to find ways of saving time. This was done, setting 2019 as the cut-off date. This objective seems to be in the process of being achieved, but then again the ‘crisis’ is hitting and the context is one of oversupply. Miguel Garcia wanted to reply to our questions but given the scale of the issues, he remained very cautious and laconic in his answers.

Miguel Garcia: “Yes, we are experiencing a complex period and have had a drop in orders from our customers since early 2015. We set up the necessary measures over a year ago and adapted our industrial tools to deal with the situation. The supply of movements currently exceeds demand. We are taking advantage of this time to strengthen our structures and our position in order to be ready to satisfy demand when the recovery arrives, because, sooner or later, it will be here. We now offer a wide range of high quality mechanical movements at very competitive prices and we have a dynamic production capability.”

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stablished in La Chaux-de-Fonds, La Joux-Perret (taken over in 2012 by the Japanese Citizen group, also the owner of the Miyota movement manufacturer and which has just bought out Frédérique Constant – read more in the article by Joe Thompson in this issue) is one of the key players in the Swiss mechanical movement market. The firm does not disclose its production figures, but it is estimated at slightly fewer than 50,000 movements and modules. But La Joux-Perret also offers one of the largest and most extensive ranges on the market. Characterised by the flexibility of its production facilities, La Joux-Perret therefore offers simple movements transformed on the basis of the ETA 2892, for example, but also offers much more complex and genuinely alternative transformations. Its range of simple or more complex chronographs, with split seconds, or coupled with other complications, is one of its major

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specialities. But the firm also offers, in the form of modules or built-in movements, power reserves, grandes dates, its own tourbillons, and even very specific specialities such as rare jumping seconds hands. Its prices therefore range from the basic module at 100 Swiss francs to the top of the range, or even very top-ofthe-range (a tourbillon on sapphire at 30,000 Swiss francs) or unique pieces. Moreover, La Joux-Perret also owns the high-end brand, Arnold & Son, which has just relaunched Angélus. The firm produces just about everything related to movements in-house, with the exception of assortments and balance springs (except in the case of very top-ofthe-range products where they manufacture all the components). La Joux-Perret in fact produces a large number of components for third parties. Alongside Sellita, Le Joux-Perret was also very active in the negotiations conducted

by COMCO. Frédéric Wenger agreed to answer our questions but also remained concise. Frédéric Wenger: “Yes, today supply exceeds demand and that is the case for all types of movement but above all base movements. You just need to take a look at the latest export figures for July 2016 to realise the seriousness of the situation (Editor’s note: once again down 14.2% on July 2015. Hong Kong, which was the leading market for Swiss watchmaking, is down 33%, i.e. a 53% reduction in two years). The situation is therefore very complicated and many customers, which are independent, small or medium-sized, are suffering. Everyone has stock. I have to admit that we had to impose technical redundancies and proceed with a certain but limited number of lay-offs. However, the quality, variety and extent of our range, the flexibility of our production facilities and the high level of skills of our staff will get us through. And being linked to Citizen, a major, ambitious and solid watchmaking group, will also help us."



he specificity of Soprod, which belongs to the Festina group, is to produce mechanical movements and quartz movements at the same time as rapidly becoming a Swiss leader in connected watches. [On this subject, see the feature on Connected Watches in our next issue 6/16.] As far as mechanical movements are concerned, Soprod makes 50,000 to 60,000 units from ETA components and about 150,000 of its own movements. Another major advantage is that Soprod controls its own production of balance springs, which makes it completely independent.

Laurent Besse: “There are many players in the Swiss movement market today. You therefore have to stand out in terms of product range. We do not produce ETA clones with our own movements and we dedicate a lot of investment to that. Unfortunately, these considerations are taking a back seat as price becomes the predominant factor. Yet innovation has a cost and we have enormously invested in R&D in the past two years: an 8 ¾’’’ ladies’ movement, specific developments for the group’s brands (Editor’s note: Perrelet and Leroy), an 11 ½’’’ mechanical calibre, connected products, quartz,

etc. Theoretically we can deliver small series starting from 200 movements. We delivered 150,000 movements last year but the figures have slumped this year for everyone. Stocks are massive as the brands have taken their quotas from ETA as a precaution. For us, diversification is therefore very important and a new world is dawning with connected watches. Our modules for connected watches offer strong potential. All functions are possible and we have developed our own software with HES-SO Valais in Sion. We offer an original solution, because depending on a giant raises issues, as illustrated with the problems TAG Heuer suffered with Intel. But for us, although mechanical movements remain the priority in terms of value, connected systems are already the leader in terms of quantity with hundreds of thousands of modules. Quartz is our third activity. But I fear a downward levelling-off in Swiss made mechanical calibres in terms of pricing, similar to what happened with quartz.”



ounded by a precocious genius in the watchmaking industry, Valérien Jaquet, Concepto very rapidly grew and now employs a hundred or so staff in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Concepto, which offers its own range of six movements, brings together all watchmaking trades and manufactures between 50,000 and 60,000 mechanical movements each year. The company makes its own movement assortments. It now includes some forty or so customer brands including RJ-Romain Jerome, Hublot and Louis Moinet. u

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Valérien Jaquet: “In 2006, when the company was set up, we did the assembling, but, as we progressed, the market asked us for much more than our suppliers could deliver in time. We were not well supplied and so we internalised the entire production of our components, except for barrel springs and rubies! We can assemble the movement from A to Z, proceed from the prototype through to the approved product and offer single pieces through to tens of thousands of calibres. We have delivered around 60,000 movements for one single reference. We propose complications and even offer a tourbillon and minute

repeater. We now deliver 90% movements and 10% components. Our growth was very strong until 2008. But today, the market will not start to recover before another full year. But within a year or so, the market will include too many manufacturers of entry level calibres priced between 50 and 300 francs. ETA has resumed deliveries of movements and turned on the tap again with very competitive prices. We offer a simple calibre at 250 Swiss francs but customisation, on models worth tens of thousands of Swiss francs, has greater potential. We have therefore reacted by offering tailor-made products, small

series with flexibility and speed. For example, it is possible to order four tourbillons from us."



senior manager at Technotime, Sébastien Gigon is the man who openly expresses his anger at ETA, whom he accuses of jeopardising the whole independent industrial fabric by making a U-turn and re-opening the floodgates. He finds this “leverage” used to deal with the crisis hard to swallow, and believes he and many others are paying the price. [Read above his rant about ETA]. But over and above all that, what does Technotime, whose broad and high quality catalogue ranges from the ‘basic’ calibre to the tourbillon, not forgetting balance springs, offer today?

Sébastien Gigon: “We wanted to join forces with another large producer of mechanical movements as we have invested millions in the production of balance springs, but its manager refused. It would have made sense, though, as, with Soprod, Atokalpa and Precision Engineering, we are one of the rare alternatives to Nivarox [Swatch Group]. This year, we delivered more than 100,000 balance springs to 14 customers. “We offer three families of calibre: modules at 200 Swiss francs, manufacture movements from 500

to 1,000 Swiss francs and tourbillons from 7,500 to 9,000 Swiss francs. It’s therefore a broad range. We started to feel the slowdown in 2015. This year, the brakes are full on. There is no visibility whatsoever. What will it be like next year? Last year we made between 12,000 and 15,000 calibres. This year we will target 25,000, especially modules. There will be an increase in quantity, but a drop in sales of tourbillons. Thus a fall in profitability. We arrived on the market with a beautiful tourbillon at 8,000 francs. Just afterwards, Biver launched its tourbillon at 15,000 Swiss francs in a completed watch. Investing takes time and it is also necessary to arrive at the right time, after all that effort. I won’t deny that my colleagues and I are very worried about the first part of 2017. Our customers are mainly independent watchmakers. We are willing to join forces to face future threats.”

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ndustrialisation once again became the Holy Grail. Starting in1996, Pierre Landolt, at the head of the Sandoz Family Foundation, outlined the independent industrial entity he wished to build. And he built it. Based around the Parmigiani brand, a complete industrial manufacturing network now controls full verticality of production. Right down to the hides entrusted by Hermès, which produces its own movements with Vaucher, as it has a 25% stake in the Manufacture.

Jean-Daniel Dubois: “Our strength lies in the fact that we can design 98% of components in the different divisions of our group, for very creative brands that can thus focus on marketing watches. But today, we face a systemic problem. Our production capabilities are greater than the market’s absorption possibilities. By offering five main calibres, in prices starting from 800 Swiss francs, we are on a different level than other calibre manufacturers. We offer lower quantities and exclusivity. The difficulty lies in getting customers to understand why our three-handed movements are four times the price of those of our competitors. But that’s like having a

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choice between a Rolls Royce and a Fiat. We can never compete in terms of quantity and price with ETA, or, now, Ronda. Through flexibility, customisation, tailor-made and small series, we need to go even further and develop exceptional and ultra-flat movements, tourbillons, etc. We manufactured 20,000 movements in 2015 and are targeting 12,000 to 18,000 movements this year. We are returning to the

very top of the range, the core being located at 1,000 to 1,500 Swiss francs and aim to get back into the black by 2019. Sales are the most critical point today. Achieving ‘liberation’ from the industrial part! But the supply of movements on the market is too high, it’s becoming a real problem. Ronda corresponds to the entry level of Sellita and ETA and has strong DNA in movements. We do not target the same volumes. We are perhaps complementary in the originality of our approaches, upstream and downstream from ETA. We need to stand out at all costs. We need to adapt our structures to a niche market, without price competition. All of of Asia is launching 60% Swiss made watches! We need to be wary of downward levelling. We saw what happened with quartz movements that now cost 2 Swiss francs. A partner like Richard Mille effectively matches our current ambitions. We strive for originality. Regarding Parmigiani Fleurier, a project like the Senfine has come just at the right time and is worth a mention.”



fter 155 years as a Swiss entity, Eterna was taken over in 2011 by the powerful China Haidian group (since renamed Citychamp, it is both a manufacturer, with the Ebhor and Rossini brands worth more than 40% of the Chinese domestic market, and a top ranking distributor). Symbolically this takeover was important as Eterna is a historic player in mechanical movements. Since then, a specific entity, Eterna Movement, has been founded to deliver to third parties, even though Citychamp absorbs around 40% of production for its Swiss made brands Eterna and Corum.

Samir Merdanovic: "We do not compare ourselves with either ETA or Sellita. In terms of range, we would position ourselves between ETA and Vaucher Manufacture. We do not opt for volume but offer good quality at a good price. Finishing is standard but we are not an ETA clone, copy or even compatible with ETA. Our range starts with a manual three-handed movement at 200 Swiss francs, automatic at 250 Swiss francs, supplemented by GMT or moon phase modules at 250 to 300 Swiss francs. Or an automatic flyback chrono with date and 60-hour power reserve at 500 Swiss francs. For example, we supply Corum with

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skeleton chronos. What is still missing are ladies' movements but we do have ongoing projects. Last year we delivered between 4,000 and 5,000 pieces and this year we will again double our production or produce even more. Our best-seller is the 3914 calibre with GMT at 6 o’clock. "I would like to say that if the Chinese had not invested in Switzerland, it is probable that Eterna would no longer be up and running today! They also invested heavily in the development of EMC. We can thank them as they currently support a proportion of Swiss brands... Admittedly, we are not yet profitable, but we are hoping to break even within the next eighteen months. In 2015, we had a negative balance of 1.8 million Swiss francs. We are in a controlled investment phase. The process takes time!

Our payroll is back up to 40 people and we offer updated, newlydeveloped movements produced with modern methods and machinery. For example, five or six of our different movements can be inserted in the same case because they are all based on the same basic Caliber 39. It’s a very important factor for after-sales service, and an advantage for the brand, to offer different functions in the same product line. We know that the watchmaking industry is facing hard times. But now is the best time to invest and win new customers. We are going ahead with our plan.”



elsa is one of the ‘small’ players in Swiss mechanical movements. It mainly makes two types of basic calibre, automatic 8 2/4’’’ and 11 ½’’’, with a few additional complications like the 24-hour disc, moon phase, big date, etc. Miro Bapic: “We delivered 60,000 calibres in 2015, but our schedule, drawn up through to 2022, forecasts a progressive increase in quantity to reach 150 to 200,000 calibres. This having been said, we already have the theoretical capacity to produce 500,000. These calibres are ETA-compatible, in particular with the 2814 and 2892, the most commonly found ones. Their average price ranges from 95 Swiss francs to 165 Swiss francs, depending on their complexity. But the situation is tricky and is getting

tougher. People complain, pay late but want their parts at all costs. Orders are nevertheless down and those who say theirs are not are lying. ETA has reopened the floodgates. This affects all our competitors and creates massive confusion. One day we deliver, another day we don’t... Customers are never guaranteed a reliable source of supply. Another issue: the arrival of Ronda in the mechanical movement market could upset the whole situation. They are very



stablished in Le Locle, Innovations Manufactures Horlogères (IMH) develops and manufactures watches, movements, components and cases. This manufacture, linked to the Julien Coudray brand, was taken over by the Belgian industrialist Joris Ide, also the

owner of Lebeau-Courally. It specialises in small series. Bruno Karbiche: “We make movements in the 300 to 15,000 Swiss franc price range, including tourbillons. We belong to the same group as Lebeau-

serious players who have upgraded their quality through their expertise in quartz. We’ll see how they get on in mechanical movements. But they are launching a three-handed calibre and calendar, a model we are wiling to abandon. Therefore, I do not really consider them as direct competitors. Despite the tricky situation, we have, however, got through difficult times and we have been fully focused on the development of a specific product for a customer. As we often are, in fact. Our customers want Swiss Made, which we are – our external suppliers are Swiss, all our operations are in-house – but most of our customers are not Swiss. This being said, although the new Swissness law is not a problem for us, I don’t think it’s a good idea. The Japanese are more cunning and label their products ‘Japan’ and not ‘Made in...’. It gives more freedom and, in the current context, that freedom is key.”

Courally (7,000 – 20,000 Swiss francs) and Julien Coudray (starting at 70,000 Swiss francs), who are our customers. IMH has its own life. We work for the three major groups. We supply small components but also provide artistic work for them. We aim to be stronger in movements in small and medium series, ranging from 1 to 500 units. That’s our segment. We employ only 25 people and one of our specialities is grand-feu enamelling. The market is admittedly very quiet at the moment but many independent manufactures come to us for small series, ranging from 1 to 50 movements. We were founded in 2007 and were taken over by the Belgian Ide family in 2015. We strive to satisfy requirements in a way that cannot be found by our customers elsewhere. We also offer flexibility and customisation.”

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With a population of 80 million and a GDP of more than 400 billion dollars, as sanctions are gradually lifted an economic giant is joining the international market. What are the opportunities and stumbling blocks for watchmakers? An analysis.

The country has a large young generation which is avid for luxury goods and wants to distance itself from the austerity of the ruling regime. Contrary to the clichés, sports cars and luxury watches can be seen on Tehran’s streets. It’s worth remembering that the first Tehran Fashion Week took place last year. And according to the International Monetary Fund, its GDP per inhabitant is higher than in China, India or Brazil, at 16,500 dollars.

by Serge Maillard



s the dependence of the watchmaking industry on Chinese demand makes itself cruelly felt, the need to diversify their markets is today becoming more urgent than ever for the watchmaker brands. At the same time, a potential giant – certainly a far cry from the demographic monster that China represents, but just as avid for horological products – is awakening: Iran, with its 78 million inhabitants who are seeing the economic sanctions gradually being lifted further to the nuclear agreement with the world powers, which came into effect on 16 January. This could be a breath of fresh air for watchmakers in a Middle East which has also been hit by lower receipts as result of falling oil prices – prompting Saudi Arabia to launch a massive sovereign wealth fund in order to diversify its investments. Rare are the luxury brands with their own boutiques in Iran. Despite this, Bulgari is intending to open shortly in Tehran, the country’s capital, which, according to CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, “represents the next big market in the Middle East.” Last autumn, Montblanc’s CEO, Jérôme Lambert, announced that the brand was also seeking partners in Iran. The entrylevel brands, too, welcome the country’s economic opening: “Iran offers great opportunities,” underlined Adrian Bosshard, CEO of Certina, at the last Baselworld. The same sentiment is echoed at Longines.

But we’ve seen it all before: demographic giants like India and Brazil did not live up to the horological hype, and have remained economic dwarfs for the industry where the domestic market is concerned. The fault lies with the very heavy taxation on imports of luxury products – 46 percent in the former and 80 percent in the latter country. So what about Iran? Official taxation is not in the same class (though admittedly subject to various supplementary, local “facilities”), raising hopes of greater potential on the domestic market. The problem here lies with international cash transfers: many banks are still reluctant to accept transactions to or from Iran for fear of exposing themselves and risking their reputation with the United States. Washington has inflicted particularly punishing fines on European banks trading with Iran – as BNP Paribas will confirm, having had to pay a hefty nine billion dollars in 2014 after being accused of violating the embargo on Tehran. “Officially, it’s an open market with reasonable customs duties and VAT,” confirms Maurice Altermatt, head of the Swiss horology federation (FH). “So on paper, everything is possible. The main problem resides in the long, complicated financial transactions. The Iranian banking system is still subject to US sanctions.” Consequently, transactions still have to be made very largely through

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intermediary countries, such as Turkey or the United Arab Emirates But one obstacle has already been overcome: Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) is again allowed to cover short, medium and longterm financing operations to Iran.

ROOM FOR NEW PLAYERS Unlike the American luxury multinationals, the Swiss brands have always been present and appreciated in Iran, even after the Islamic Revolution and the imposition of economic sanctions, although the market is still tiny, as René Weber of the Vontobel bank underscores: “There’s huge potential out there, since Swiss watchmakers exported only 11 million francs’ worth of goods to Iran in 2015! And that hasn’t really varied in the past few years.” The three-day visit by the Swiss Economic Affairs Minister to Iran in early 2016 with a business delegation (including Vacheron Constantin) sent out a clear signal to the watchmakers: it’s time to strengthen trade links with Iran! “What surprised me most during that visit was

the quality of the boutiques there,” says Maurice Altermatt. “They distribute some fifty Swiss brands in all price ranges. They are often family businesses going back two or three generations. And so the distributors are also retailers, because they own stores.” One of the distribution giants is Tehran Watch, which also runs the Omega boutique in the capital. Although Iranians have got into the habit of buying their luxury watches abroad, especially in Dubai and Europe, a local customer base is growing up and boutiques are brimming: “The task now is to build a sound network, develop an after-sales service. A number of brands are interested in returning to Iran or increasing their presence there. But there may be more problems to solve in Asia before thinking about opening up new markets. Things are lagging behind there, even if the luxury watch boutiques are every bit as worthy as their European counterparts.” Because the number of importers remains small: “There’s still room for new quality players if the watch market in Iran is really going to develop.”



n July 2015, Iran signed an agreement with the European Union and the P5 + 1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) in Vienna: this aims to gradually lift economic sanctions in exchange for supervision of Iran’s civil nuclear programme. From 16 January 2016, Iran having complied with its commitments, the treaty came into force and sanctions related to the nuclear issue were lifted by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States. In addition, the United States modified some of the older sanctions not related to the nuclear issue. However, almost all of the US’s “primary” sanctions remain in force: these, a few exceptions aside, prohibit commercial transactions between American individuals or companies and Iran. On the other hand, the United States has suspended the “secondary” sanctions which applied to non-US nationals in the context of certain trading activities with Iran. Consequently, a few exceptions aside, US citizens are still prohibited from trading with that country. But non-US subsidiaries of US companies may conduct transactions with Iran, provided that the products are not made in, nor exported from, the United States and are not used for nuclear or military purposes.p

BANKS ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION When interviewed last autumn by Swissinfo, Sharif Nezam-Mafi, the president of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce, described Iran as “ready to join the international community,” while issuing a warning of the “incredible level” of corruption and nepotism, not to mention the all-pervading bureaucracy. Moreover, huge inequalities are found in the country, with a small proportion of ultra-rich and a middle class which is struggling to develop, undermined by the decline in oil revenues. “Rome wasn’t built in a day: the economy, which is over-dependent on oil, needs to diversify. The growth of the watch market will also depend on the geopolitical context, depending on whether or not the nuclear agreement is respected.” Early adopters on the Iranian market, like Frédérique Constant’s Peter Stas, prove satisfied with their bold move, however. “We introduced the brand for the first time in Iran in 2009. At that time the market was not as open as today, which made it a real challenge to turn this adventure into a success. With a strong local partner (see comments by Massoud Zomorrodian, a local distributor who represents the brand) and significant marketing investments, we have been able to establish Frédérique Constant as a first choice of luxury in Iran. Two years ago, the Iranian market began to open up further and operations related to shipment, payments and travel across the country became easier than in the past. These changes make Iran one of our largest markets in the Middle East region and we still expect significant growth for the coming years. This year we have introduced our sport classic brand Alpina, which has the potential of being as successful there as Frédérique Constant.” u


Contacted while on a business trip to Iran, Alain Spinedi, CEO of Louis Erard – a brand present since 2009 in the countryr – is equally confident as to the potential of this market, which he says is “already in our top ten and is going to be one of our priorities given the great possibilities for expanding our mid-price range, between 600 and 3,000 francs.” But he does concede that “at the economic level, it’s happening more slowly than announced in the press, and until a sound banking system is established, things won’t happen any faster.” Elie Bernheim, CEO of Raymond Weil, agrees: “The economy will not open up without the banks. Currency transfers are always a hindrance to development. We have to be patient and team up with extremely reliable partners.” Even so, the brand states that it has a very sound basis in Iran and is very optimistic: “Our situation in the country is excellent and despite the embargo and economic sanctions, we’ve gained market share these last three years. 2016 promises to be just as good, with outstanding sales in April, the best in about ten years! In the long-term, Iran should position itself as the Middle East market leader and one of our most important customers overall.”

Isfahan City Centre Main Atrium

THE PARADOX OF ECONOMIC OPENING Its longstanding presence on the Iranian market is an advantage for the Genevabased company: “Iranian customers are

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photo: maziar.rezaee

RichKidsOfTehran on Insatgram

connoisseurs. They need recognition and quite naturally they go for the wellknown brands. We have a long history in this geographical region, our offering is especially well adapted to their tastes and we even produce a few timepieces specifically for that market.” Manuel Emch, CEO of RJ-Romain Jerome, visited Iran last year, a market where his brand has had a presence since 2014. “We’re just starting, but the country has enormous potential. Although it operated as a closed circuit for a very long time, it has a well-educated population who want to catch up. I like to venture into these kinds of rather surprising markets, which are less conventional for the watchmaking industry. But getting into the Iranian market is still quite a complicated affair. We started by contacting the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, which told us there was no problem for Swiss businesses. But we soon realised that although the business was there, there was a problem at the receipts end. On paper there’s no problem, but no Swiss bank will do the transactions, they’re scared to death of the United States. So we went through Middle Eastern banks.” So, between the agreement and the reality the situation is somewhat schizophrenic. Moreover, since everybody is anticipat-

ing the market to open up, Iranian customers are expecting taxation to fall and the offer to rise. So they’re waiting. The result is a paradoxical situation: in actual fact, RJ-Romain Jerome has seen its sales fall with the opening of the market! “We watchmakers have been spoiled by seeing markets open up and experiencing strong growth immediately. We have to be patient.” For Manuel Emch, there is still a deep divide in the country between the towns and rural areas: “You see lots of outwards signs of wealth and luxury brands in Tehran, as evidenced by those Instagram accounts that show the kind of life led by the pampered youth in the capital. Geographically, the city is even structured so that the richest strata of the population live higher up.” But the more classic models remain the most popular, such as Moon Invader: “Every now and again, we see an interest in our less conventional models, but skulls are definitely not the easiest models to import into Iran, given the censorship. But a customer base with more sophisticated tastes is going to emerge, because the elite has the same dreams as the youth of New York.” In the historical city of Isfahan, one of the largest shopping centres in the Middle East was inaugurated last year – a hugely symbolic event. u

T H E P R I VAT E L A B E L F O R V E R Y P R I VAT E C U S T O M E R S For 40 years WALCA has delivered made-to-measure services to SWISS MADE watchmaking. This is about you. And time.




assoud Zomorrodian, today aged 76, is one of Iran’s longest-standing watch importers. His father and grandfather were watch merchants before him, and the fourth generation has now taken up the reins of the business with his sons, Ali and Hadi. The President of T. Zomorrodian & Co. has imported pocket watches, mechanical watches, quartz watches, fashion watches and smart watches. In Iran, most watchmaking boutiques are run by independent retailers or families who have a strong sense of tradition and watchmaking values! A far cry from the standardised chains of stores floated on the stock exchange… Now an agent for Swiss brands such as Alpina, Frédérique Constant, Louis Erard, Atlantic, Cover and André Mouche as well as several fashion brands, he has positioned himself in the mid-range, with boutiques in Tehran and Shiraz as well as distributing to more than 110 outlets all over the country. Massoud Zomorrodian has seen a lot during his long career: the effects of the Second World War on Iran, the time of the Shah, the 1953 coup, the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the long war with Iraq in the 1980s, various international sanctions – right up to the agreement on Iranian nuclear power in early 2016! And we complain about geopolitics in Switzerland! He is also a frequent visitor to Switzerland, having paid his 100th visit to the country at the occasion for Baselworld 2016. “Iran is the second-largest economy in the Middle East and one of the 25 greatest world economic powers,” the distributor reminds us. “We’re currently seeing major changes in this market of around 80 million people. Swiss, European, Japanese and Chinese brands have already been around the corner for while, but only now are some representatives of their top management paying a market visit. The foreign subsidiaries of American brands are allowed to directly sell Swiss-made or Made in China watches to Iran as well However, American companies themselves are not allowed access to the Iranian market directly. The core of the agreement is therefore to allow their subsidiaries to sell products in Iran that haven’t been produced in the United States. But for Swiss companies, there’s no risk whatsoever.”

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Foreign investors are going to grow in Iran, Massoud Zomorrodian believes, hence when the market develops and the economy opens up, Iranians will have more money to spend in their own country to buy watches. Here is his advice on the limitations, opportunities and essential points you have to be aware of before any launch on the Iranian market or re-planning. “In reality, almost all famous watch brands are already present in Iran, but they could be far better positioned. Training courses should be organised and the demand encouraged. My recommendations aren’t based on theory or a university thesis, but on my professional experience of more than half a century!”

LIMITATIONS • SMUGGLING: “Iran has very extensive borders and many products circulate illegally, including watches.” • REGULATIONS, CUSTOMS DUTIES AND TAXES: “These are not high on paper, but added to them are numerous aspects and constraints: mismanagement, corruption, unclear regulations, etc. For example, if you’re shipping with an airline that is not Iranian, it will cost you ten percent more. Customs might seize watches for so-called “laboratory” tests. You may have to pay VAT twice.” • FAKE WATCHES AND PARALLEL MARKETS: “This is the most serious problem in watch business in Iran. Fake watches, most of them made in China, are everywhere in Iran. The grey market is big too, especially for watches from Dubai. The phenomenon is such that we’re forced to provide after-sales service for watches from parallel markets.” • OEM/ODM BRANDS: “You see some Swiss Made, Swiss Movement, Swiss, Swiss Design or Japan Movement watches in Iran which you do not see in any other country, they copy the best sellers of other brands and make their own collection.” • EXCHANGE RATE FLUCTUATIONS: “Iran is the world champion of fluctuating exchange rates, which has ruined many businesses.” • ECONOMIC PROBLEMS: “These remain, as a result of the international sanctions, but also because of bad management by the government. Iran is a rich country, but an unstable market. Regulations can differ significantly from one day to the next.”

• PURCHASING POWER: “This is not comparable with that of the neighbouring countries. Arab countries are rich and have much more tourists and foreign workers but far smaller populations. In Iran, the gap between the rich and the poor is very wide. It’s even growing. At the same time, Iran has a much larger potential economy than many of its neighbours.” • TRANSFERS: “Direct payment is not possible. Indirect payment through exchange offices is possible and easy, only USD can sometimes be complicated. For payment to public listed companies it is necessary to sign official anti-money laundering documents. Payments in Swiss francs are less subject to the risk of being blocked.”

OPPORTUNITIES • BUSINESS POTENTIAL: “This is very clear, that is why despite the heavy sanctions, nearly all famous watch brands are already represented in Iran. I am not talking about coming to Iran, I am talking about re-planning the level of presence in Iran.” • PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS INDIVIDUALS: “Iranians are trustworthy, honest and professional merchants. It’s been a key hub of trade since the days of the Silk Road! I’ve been working in the watch business for more than 50 years and I’ve been able to survive many difficult market situations thanks to this business loyalty.” • SWISS-MADE: “The ‘Made in Switzerland’ label is prized in Iran. A bit like Persian carpets in the West or the German automobile industry!” • THE YOUNG GENERATION: “The population has doubled in the past 37 years. Half of Iranians are under 37. And what’s more, young people are very fashion-conscious and attracted by brands and ready-to-wear fashion. On the Internet, the government filters some political content or pornography, but not content on watches, so information is able to circulate freely.” • CONSUMERISM ON THE RISE: “There is a strong culture and tradition of offering presents at any celebration, which obviously fosters watch purchases.”

RECOMMENDATIONS • EXCHANGE RATE: “You need to watch this closely, as the government exchange rate is not the same as the market rate. If you check the rates on the internet, you will be confused. What is important to know is that the reference should be the market rate (currency exchange offices) and not the bank rate.” • GREATER CONTROL: “The watchmakers need to exercise greater control over the flows of fake watches and the parallel markets. This is possible through legal actions but the brand should pursue the case; it’s not up to the distributors to do it. For some brands the share of fake and parallel is more than 3/4 of the turnover of that brand in Iran. This is the case for Emporio Armani.” • SUPPORT LOCAL PLAYERS: “You have to provide the very best conditions for your partners in Iran: it’s an exceptional market with high costs, high competition and lots of limitations. Opportunities are plenty, the brands which support more, get a bigger market share.” • DARE TO TAKE THE PLUNGE: “The risk is not coming to Iran, but not coming! Instead of genuine watches, fake watches will take their place and become entrenched in people’s minds. For example, Gucci entered the Iranian market late and now Iranians are used to buying models at 50-100 dollars. It will be difficult to change their perception. Another scenario is that genuine but not officially represented watches will be sold in the market and because the end clients will not get proper after sales service the brand’s prospects will be ruined, like Bulova in Iran.” • TASTES: “In terms of taste and culture, Iranians are closer to Europeans than to neighbouring Arab markets! People are discreet, you don’t see the same ostentation as in other markets in the region.” • DISTRIBUTION: “There are no major distribution chains, but a large number of independent retailers, some of which may own 1-3 boutiques. The question ‘how many stores do you own?’ from a distributor means that the person asking has no idea about the Iranian market.” • PURCHASING POWER: “Even if the population size is similar to that of Germany, the similarities stop there, especially in terms of purchasing power (much lower) and population structure (much younger).” • ADVERTISING: “This is very expensive, whether billboard posters, magazines or TV, because of the protectionist measures.” • RESPECT: “The quality of Iran’s watch market is high and going to rise. You should stop viewing Iran as a second-class market for selling off unsold stock.” p


THE FAIRER SEX IN THE EYES OF With the RL888 collection, the Ralph Lauren– Richemont joint venture introduces its first round watch for women. Ralph Lauren is looking to expand its clientele beyond watchmaking’s inner circle, through a strategy mainly focused on its own stores.

Gionata Xerra courtesy of Ralph Lauren

by Serge Maillard


t’s the ‘year of the woman’ at Ralph Lauren. The new RL888 ladies’ collection was designed by Mr Lauren himself. The number 888 is a reference to 888 Madison Avenue in New York, home of the flagship womenswear store. This timepiece inspired by the art deco era—the designer’s favourite period—is the brand’s first round watch for women. “It was a necessary move to develop the segment, as the Stirrup watch has a more polarising shape,” says Guillaume Tetu, who took the helm of the product development department last year. The RL888 quartz watches are available in polished 18-carat white or rose gold, or stainless steel, with a case diameter of 32 mm or 38 mm. The 32-mm rose gold model is also available with a diamond-set bezel. The dial features a combination of Arabic and oversized Roman numerals (as previously seen in the 867 collection, in a style somewhat reminiscent of Cartier, the precursor of art deco), and the Breguet hands enhance the style. The collection also includes a Haute Joaillerie timepiece in white gold, set with diamonds and black spinels in abstract patterns on the bezel and bracelet.

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The unique feature of this collection is the large range of interchangeable bracelets, with 40 or so different colours to choose from in patent alligator leather or calfskin, satin or grosgrain. The watches, which start at 1,900 euros, can also be paired with flexible three-link bracelets.

POTENTIAL IN THE LADIES’ WATCH AND JEWELLERY MARKETS “The RL888 collection was developed in just one year,” continues Guillaume Tetu. “There’s a lot of potential with female customers, that’s what was most obvious to me when I came to Ralph Lauren. The other major growth lever for the brand, to my mind, is jewellery: we’re going to bring a new dimension to this line of business.”

Guillaume Tetu elaborates: “Our female customers are primarily American and Japanese, followed by Chinese. We also have a strong presence in Paris and Milan.” Today, the watchmaking brand is evenly spread between male and female customers. This year, in parallel with the RL888, the brand also introduced the new RL Automotive 39 mm, inspired by vintage racing cars and with a manual movement manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre at its heart, as well as new men’s and ladies’ watches with square cases for the 867 collection. “We now have two objectives: to convert current Ralph Lauren customers to the watch market on the one hand, and to recruit new customers for Ralph Lauren through watches on the other hand. Half of our watch customers weren’t Ralph Lauren customers! This is a new phenomenon and will help us achieve our goal of expanding our clientele. Our strategy is to increase our presence in our own stores, by setting up proper in-store watch lounges and by motivating sales assistants.” 55% of watches are now distributed through Ralph Lauren boutiques (around 50 stores, which is approximately half of the brand’s stores worldwide) and 45% through retailers (across approximately 40 stores).

STILL A START-UP Guillaume Tetu also reminds us that “Ralph Lauren is the only American designer to bring out a line of high-quality watches, following the example of the European Haute Couture fashion houses such as Hermès and Chanel. Our ambition has always been to marry quality Swiss watchmaking with the American lifestyle. We wanted to avoid simply licensing the brand for a private-label watch, as many fashion brands have done. In my opinion, that’s a dangerous move that could harm a fashion house’s overall reputation.” Why did you decide to leave the SIHH? “It was no longer right for us because it was difficult for us to express ourselves there, with all our products and our world, in a small space. To understand Ralph Lauren, you have to step into its world. A place like the Palazzo Ralph Lauren in Milan is far better suited to us. We’re planning several more intimate events throughout the year.” “We’re still just a start-up in terms of watchmaking! We need to work on becoming more coherent. In the United States and Japan, our two principal markets, we outperformed the industry last year. We hope to have a positive year, even in this very difficult environment.” p


IN THE MIDDLE LANE The brand is back on the offensive, with its playful Bubble range and its revisited Golden Bridge model. Between its Chinese shareholders and its employees in La Chaux-de-Fonds, CEO Davide Traxler is set to play the role of intercultural translator. And to combat the clichés by offering 21st-century horology products.

Before launching a multitude of different projects, Davide Traxler embarked on a pilgrimage to Corum’s agents and outlets around the world (400 of them, of which only around ten are proprietary boutiques, all run in collaboration with local players). “I was surprised at their enthusiasm, as well as the goodwill the brand enjoys. In-house too, there was a much more positive dynamic than I thought. Before joining Corum, the main image I had was of Golden Bridge. What I hadn’t reckoned with was the fondness for the brand, both among its employees and its partners.” He sees his role primarily as that of “intercultural translator” between the Chinese shareholders and the Swiss teams, which by Serge Maillard number around a hundred employees. “Unlike other CEOs, I’m not blinkered by the idea that ow are things at Corum? That’s a quessuccess stems from myself – and that it’s the tion which has been nagging us at fault of the others if there’s a slowdown. You Europa Star, especially since the takeohave to maintain an ongoing dialogue. I regularver of the brand by Citychamp in 2013, followed by the departure of Antonio Calce. “No news is ly sit back and take stock with all the employees good news” is a proverb which seems to apply and I advocate transparency, including with the only to Rolex in the watchmaking industry… suppliers and retailers, to restore confidence.” Since the arrival of a new CEO, Davide Traxler, last His prime objective: to get back into the black year, there has been a marked change of tone: in 2016, with sales of 45 to 50 million francs. the brand, based in La Chaux-de-Fonds is using New subsidiaries have been opened in Hong every means at its disposal to shake up the Swiss Kong, Malaysia and Singapore: “I’m counting watchmaking microcosm, denouncing the “antion the local teams and I’m not going to send Chinese discrimination” suffered by Corum since ‘colonists’ out there to manage the subsidiarthe takeover, while on the other hand launching ies, I’m no Eurocentric!” The new boss doesn’t GOLDEN BRIDGE ROUND a vast offensive at Baselworld with its colourful, mince his words. participative and playful Bubble models, its revisited Golden Bridge with a round case, and its Admiral’s Cup range made with “WE’RE NOT RETAILERS AND calibres produced by another Citychamp-owned company, its WE’VE NO INTENTION OF STARTING” movement-making arm, Eterna Movement (see page 26). “We’re in the relaunch phase, with some surprising products!” says the In Hong Kong, the brand can count on the logistical clout of enthusiastic and cosmopolitan Davide Traxler in his office. Citychamp. But there’s no question of opening their own boutiques. “We’re not retailers and we’ve no intention of startOBJECTIVE: TO GET BACK ing. As for the rest, the high-end customer wants choice.” INTO THE BLACK In fact, the distribution network is currently under review. “Our major retailers tell us we’re one of the rare brands that’s Before the takeover by Citychamp, Corum was posting “losses in growing right now.” Hardly surprising, given the comeback the order of 9 to 23 million francs a year, which were absorbed currently under way from a very negative situation: according by the former foundation,” explains the new chief. “We had a to Davide Traxler, Corum posted growth of 350% in the first lot of unpleasant surprises after acquisition, such as overflowing quarter of 2016 year on year. Which says something about the state of the brand one year ago… u component inventories, huge stocks and unpaid orders.”


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points out, before being accepted by Corum, which launched the Golden Bridge concept. But Corum’s own world is opening up with its integration into Citychamp and coordination with the group’s other brands, notably the T2 movements from Eterna, which organised their joint stand at Baselworld. “But I have to start by using up the stocks I have before making greater use of Eterna Movement. What is special about the movements used at Corum is that 85 percent of them are more than 13mm thick, whereas 90 percent of the calibres on the market in our category are less than 10mm thick. Of our products, the Admiral’s Cup is about that size, but for us it stands to reason that we’ll adapt to the market for the other models too.”

A MULTI-FACETED BRAND One of the particularities of Corum is that it offers a number of strong but very different collections: what do the Bubble, Golden Bridge and the Admiral’s Cup have in common? “It’s as if we were having to manage several brands within one single brand! But the main thing is to listen, to ask what BUBBLE DANI OLIVIER people expect of Corum. Tastes differ widely from one counThe campaign that made the greatest impression at Baselworld try to another.” has to be the relaunch of Bubble, with its multitude of playful Personalisation is also on the agenda: “For example, you’ll be variations. “Why had this watch vanished, even though every able to bring your grandmother’s timepiece and leave with your own Coin watch. In the current conyear we were getting spontaneous calls from professionals wanting to order one?” text, you have to be able to offer more for The watch was also the subject of a design the same price.” And what about smart competition open to all and has ushered watches, since they also build on the playin a series of collaborative artistic ventures, ful aspect? “A very interesting innovation, with French artist Dani Olivier who signed but it’s not us. No retailer mentioned that up for a first series, a campaign which is to me during my recent travels. That is and set to be repeated. “We’re a small brand, remains an obsolete tool.” but we intend to set up strong ties with Conserving Corum’s sharp, pop image, the art scene, where we’re much apprecirenewing ties with lovers of art and design and, more prosaically, selling watches ated. Don’t forget that Andy Warhol owned without favouring one market over ana Coin model by Corum – as did Richard Nixon! We’re relatively young; our boast other, in other words, harbouring global isn’t a history going back centuries, but pop ambitions.... at the end of the interview, art roots.” Which helps the brand strike a Davide Traxler quotes the composer Gustav BUBBLE LUNAR SYSTEM chord with new customer communities: “At Mahler: “‘Tradition is keeping the flame 3,600 francs, the model will appeal to anybody interested in a alive, not venerating the ashes’. Luxury has an ephemeral fun, playful and affordable product.” It is in the same spirit that side to it, it has no use, so it’s a sign of deliberate choice. the brand intends to work increasingly through concept stores, Before the First World War, the wealthy classes were those which act as trend-setters, much in the manner of Colette in who had most free time. Today, time is the great luxury. We Paris, for example. shouldn’t forget that we represent a purchase which is purely “We’ve always been open-minded and in search of collabo- for the sake of pleasure. You only buy a watch or a piece rative projects outside our own particular world.” Vincent of jewellery when the conditions are propitious. Take a step Calabrese had tried several watchmakers, Davide Traxler back; it’s a privilege to work in our sector.” p

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THE MOVADO EDGE AN ICON REVISITED Almost seventy years after the original model, world-renowned industrial designer Yves Béhar has reinterpreted the legendary Museum Dial and its famous golden dot symbolising the sun at 12 o’clock. The result is brilliant – contemporary, ultra-efficient and poetic. We present the new incarnation.


When it was launched in 1947, the Museum Dial simultaneously embodied modernity, simplicity and poetry, expressed in a minimalist and ultra-efficient style. However, minimalism is in general one of the most difficult feats to achieve: “I have already experimented with it a lot, particularly in my furniture creations. It’s difficult to be simple! Minimalism is actually a more advanced form of complexity in my opinion because it is expressed by Designer Nathan George Horwitt did not origisimplicity rather than by complication.” nally specialise in watches. And yet in 1947, the Yves Béhar therefore chose to reinterpret American created a true watchmaking icon: the this iconic watch by bucking the trend of Movado Museum, the first watch to join the our times, in an age of ultra-complicatpermanent collection of New York’s Museum of ed watches. “In producing the entire Modern Art. dial from a single piece that simultaYves Béhar It was therefore only logical, almost sevenneously contains information, moty years later, for Movado to entrust another “outsider” – dernity and poetry with the sun, and in varyworld-renowned Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar, who ing the textures, with the sixty undulations lives in California and who has worked for Apple, Nivea, around the dial and the sun that stands out Prada, Mini and Puma – with the task of reinterpreting this and seems to ‘grow’ out from the surface of legendary watch, with its famous golden single dot at 12 the dial, I wanted to create a 21st-century o’clock symbolising the sun. Movado. I also like to turn the tables on a Yves Béhar points out: “In my eyes, the Museum Dial has style of watchmaking that displays its comalways constituted an icon of modernity. That was why I plication, thanks to a form of minimalism was extremely enthusiastic about working with Movado. that flaunts its simplicity. Complexity is not The mid-20th century was a pivotal time in the history of necessarily what people are looking for industrial design, known as Mid-Century Modern. It is today; instead, I worked on the notion of vital that we continue to develop the products from that refinement, of simplicity, with the idea of period by incorporating new ideas for the 21st century.” taking away rather than adding to it.”

A LUMINOUS WATCH The result is the Movado Edge, a collection comprising 14 models that share the common feature of the raised dot at 12 o’clock, taken from Horwitt’s Museum Dial. Furthermore, on their coloured dials, sixty notches serving as minute markers give them a subtle texture evoking the sun’s rays. Yves Béhar has designed men’s and women’s models, as well as chronographs, available for the affordable price of between 500 and 1,200 Swiss francs. The men’s model is made from plain polished stainless steel or black PVD-finished steel and has a 40 mm round case. The sand-blasted concave dials are available in black, grey or metallic silver, as well as midnight blue. Each dial has a matt hour hand and a shiny minute hand. Meanwhile, the monochrome hue of the new women’s models highlights their elegant modernity. The 34 mm case is made from polished stainless steel or steel with a yellow or pink gold DPPV finish. The colour of the bracelet matches the hue of the entire watch to give a balanced aesthetic.

Finally, the futuristic-looking chronograph in polished stainless steel or steel with a black DPPV finish has a 42 mm case featuring distinctive push-pieces. Its concave sand-brushed dial, in black or midnight-blue aluminium, has a minute ring represented by Arabic numeral markers, printed in white on the inner surface of the crystal. This ambitious chronograph also presents a set of three sub-dials with white printed characters, as well as a green or red hour hand that contrasts magnificently with the dark dial.

RESOLUTELY FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE “The Movado Edge’s guiding principle was inspired by the use of new materials, new textures and a three-dimensional construction. Thanks to its arched forms, the light is marvellously absorbed and the gaze is drawn deep inside the watch,” explains Yves Béhar. When the person wearing the watch moves his or her wrist, the design changes, as the texture accentuates the movement of light towards the centre of the dial. “From a symbolic point of view, time is an indicator of change in our lives,” adds the designer. u

While Yves Béhar admits to loving and even collecting Mid-Century Modern design objects, particularly furniture by George Nelson, Charles Eames or Joe Colombo, designing a “nostalgic” watch was out of the question for him. “It is an important period that is imitated a lot today. But it’s not really authentic to produce a purely Mid-Century design sixty years later. I think that it is important to recognise the innovation of those years, but to create products with today’s ethos, and therefore approach a new idea.” Among the common threads that guide him in all his projects, including watchmaking, Yves Béhar attempts to work both in and for our time at all costs: even (and perhaps especially) for reinterpretations, the design

The partnership between Movado and Yves Béhar was very smooth and free-flowing with quick and clear-cut decisions. The designer remembers: “Straight away, I felt that they trusted me. We spoke a lot about the design in general, particularly with the CEO Efraim Grinberg, but not strictly about the need to adhere to certain design codes or follow certain instructions.” The meeting when the prototypes were presented was decisive. Yves Béhar suddenly had an idea, which he shared with the Movado team: that the design was so closely tied up with the brand’s style that it did not need to feature the logo (or even the words “Swiss made”) – again, in order to achieve maximum visual efficiency. Immediately, the team was very enthusiastic about this

should not fall within a form of romanticism or nostalgia. “Designers should be conscious of the world they live in. New ideas need a voice to be expressed. Design can be their representative.” Another of Yves Béhar’s essential characteristics is making maximum impact with minimum effort.

proposal: “I found that the brand’s certainty revealed the confidence that they had, both in themselves and in me!” The Edge will be available in new versions, including the new women’s models presented this autumn. Alongside this, Yves Béhar is continuing to work on new plans for Movado, beyond the Edge. After all, the designer originally came up with three different ideas, one of which is currently being pursued. Could it be a smart product? After all, a man with roots in Watch Valley who is now firmly established in Silicon Valley would be well placed to combine the two worlds... “No. Incidentally I don’t wear a digital watch because the options currently available don’t satisfy the two needs that must be reconciled: the beauty of the mechanical object and new functionality. The challenge will be to make the watch incorporate all of our lifestyles – some are digital, while others are analogue. It’s a pairing that has yet to be made, and the smartwatch is still in its infancy. I personally feel that it is very important to launch the right product at the right time. I wear my Movado Edge, which is a good representation of a philosophy of time where I am trying, on a very personal level, to not be a slave to ubiquitous digitisation.” p

AN ASSERTIVE IDENTITY WITHOUT A LOGO But is it really possible to revisit a design icon as impactful as the Museum Dial? “Note that we called the watch the Edge and not the Museum 2.0! The aim is not to replace the Museum, which will continue to be an iconic watch, with the same purpose that it has always had. In my view, the Edge is a different interpretation. My idea was to create a product that takes Movado into the future.” The watch was named in reference to the sixty edged notches cut into the timepiece. “It is a sculpture that calls to mind dunes, hills or a shell... Everyone will have their own interpretation.”

©2016 movado group, inc.



CHANGING TIMES Japan’s Citizen Group has bought two Swiss watch companies in four years. What’s going on? by Joe Thompson


ast November, in an interview with Citizen Holdings Company CEO Toshio Tokura at Citizen headquarters in Tokyo, I asked if Citizen was interested in acquiring another Swiss watch brand. He said he was. “An acquisition of a particular established Swiss brand is something that we are thinking about.” The brand on Tokura’s mind, we know now, was Frederique Constant. In May, the Citizen Group announced that it had agreed to buy Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant Holding SA, owner of the Frédérique Constant, Alpina and DeMonaco brands, for an undisclosed sum. It’s the second time in four years that Citizen has bought a Swiss watch company. In 2012, Citizen surprised the watch world with the purchase of Prothor Holding SA, owners of the mechanical movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret and the Arnold & Son brand for ¥5.76 billion (equivalent to $60.5 million at the time). Including its purchase of U.S.-based Bulova Corp. in 2008, Citizen has added 7 foreign brands to its watch portfolio in eight years (Bulova, Wittnauer, Caravelle New York, Arnold & Son, and the three FCH brands). The foreign-brand buying binge is a sign of changing times at the Citizen Group, whose revenues totaled ¥348.27 billion ($2.9 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 31. The architect of those changes is Tokura. Since becoming president and CEO of Citizen Holding Co. in April 2012, he has initiated what he calls “drastic” changes that are transforming the group’s watch business. Among the highlights: • He has restored watches to their historic position as the group’s core product and launched what amounts to a “Watches First” growth strategy. • He has refocused on the Citizen brand, attempting to elevate its image by emphasising aesthetics as well as advanced quartz technology. • He has launched a foray into the lucrative luxury-mechanical market with an acquisition strategy designed to turn Citizen into a global, multi-brand watch group with a presence in every price segment.

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• He is tapping the mechanical-watch expertise of Citizen’s new Swiss subsidiaries to upgrade Citizen’s in-house mechanical watch technology with a view to making mechanical watches in Japan. Tokura’s strategy seems to be working. Citizen timepiece sales have risen 29.9% over the past three years to ¥181.2 billion ($1.5 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 31. Once again, timepieces are Citizen’s most important product, representing 52% of total revenue and 67% of operating income. That’s a big change from a decade ago, when watches amounted to just 34% of group sales, behind electronic products and devices at 45%. While best known for watches, Citizen is a giant, diversified industrial group, with five distinct business units, 129 companies and more than 21,000 employees. But, Tokura acknowledges, “As a group, we didn’t have a direction. We were unclear about which business to focus on. We needed to clarify what our portfolio is.” Tokura took care of that. “I told everybody that watches are the most important business for us as Citizen Group. That’s the first message I delivered.” But he had concerns. “Looking at the watch business over the past 20 years, we didn’t see much growth,” he says. “We needed to solve that.” Tokura and his team identified two major opportunities to expand their watch business. One was to boost the image and sales of its core Citizen brand. The other was to take a share of the luxury-mechanical market by acquiring Swiss brands.

I. ECO-DRIVE ONE, THE NEW POSTER WATCH At Baselworld this year, Citizen unveiled a stunningly thin new watch called Eco-Drive One. With a case thickness of 2.98 mm, it is the world’s thinnest light-powered analog watch. It marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive quartz technology, which uses natural or artificial light to generate electrical energy to power the movement, eliminating the need to replace the battery. Eco-Drive One is the poster watch for a new direction for the Citizen brand, blending beauty and technology. “This watch is all about beauty,” Tokura says. “But it is Eco-Drive technology and surface-coating technology that allows us to make the

Toshio Tokura, Citizen Holdings Company CEO



Founded: March 1918 as the Shokosha Watch Research Institute Sales: ¥348.27 billion/$2.90 billion Net income: ¥13,201 billion/$110.0 million Business Segments (% of group sales): Watches & clocks (52%) Devices & components (23%) Industrial machinery (15%) Electronic products (7%) Other products (3%) Group sales by region (2014): Japan 32% Rest of Asia 31% Americas 21% Europe 14% Other 2% Number of companies in group: 129 Number of employees in group: 21,665

2016 •

2015 •

2014 •

181 172 162

2013 • 2012 • For fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 Source: Citizen Holdings Co. Ltd.



Citizen Eco-Drive One is the world's thinnest light-powered analogue quartz watch with a 2.98mm case and 1.00mm movement. In spite of its thinness, Eco-Drive One runs 10 months on a single full charge by successfully reducing energy consumption.

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watch more beautiful.” Its Eco-Drive movement is 1.00 mm thick; to get it that thin, Citizen redesigned almost every part of the movement. To create the ultra-thin case, Citizen turned to new materials like cermet, a composite of ceramic and metal. The bezel is made of a binderless cemented carbide, which has superior hardness and resists oxidation. (The cermet case is on the limited version of the watch, priced at $6,000. A non-limited version with a steel case treated with Citizen’s own surface hardening technology called Duratect costs $2,600.) “Basically, a watch has to be beautiful,” Tokura says. “Technology exists to enhance beauty. That’s how we define it.” That’s a shift for the Citizen brand. Citizen became a powerhouse in the high-volume, affordably priced watch segment on the strength of its advanced quartz technology like Eco-Drive (launched in 1976), radiocontrolled atomic technology (1993), and Satellite Wave technology (2011). Historically, at Citizen, technology trumped aesthetics. That attitude has changed in recent years, Tokura says. “Around 2007, we started talking about the integration of technology and beauty as a product policy. Yes, we are proud of our technology and precision. But we have this other strand of beauty, and we’re trying to combine the two. We are really focusing to make sure the beauty comes out.” Tokura hopes that products like Eco-Drive One will improve the image of the Citizen brand. He notes that the brand is known around the globe, distributed in more than 100 markets; 70% of sales come from outside Japan. “But it doesn’t feel like we’re presenting a consistent image to the world,” Tokura says. “We need to elevate the level of the brand and have a really consistent image across the board.” Tokura describes Citizen as “the big driver to change our watch business.” But he understands that Citizen can carry the group only so far. It is not a luxury brand. Its strength is in the $300 to $1,200 price range (with a few special models priced higher). Above $1,200 is the domain of Swiss mechanical brands. “Beyond that,” Tokura says, “another brand will take over.” That would be Frédérique Constant.

II. ENTRANCE INTO THE PREMIUM LUXURY MECHANICAL SEGMENT In the Citizen Group’s annual report for 2012, the company explained why it purchased Prothor Holding. “Demand for premium Swiss-made mechanical watches is expanding, particularly in China and other emerging markets,” Citizen said, “and we believe that participating in the premium luxury segment of the watch market is essential for the

company to achieve its growth strategy in the watches and clocks segment.” With La Joux-Perret and Arnold & Son, Citizen tiptoed into the world of luxury mechanicals. Arnold & Son, an obscure, small-batch producer of high complication watches, was an add-on. What Citizen really wanted was La Joux-Perret. “The mechanical watch technology – that’s what we were interested in,” Tokura says. For two reasons. First, to protect Bulova. Citizen had purchased the American brand in 2008 to give itself a dominant position in the mid-range of the U.S. market. Bulova happens to have a collection of Swiss-made mechanical watches. When ETA, Switzerland’s dominant movement producer, announced its intention to restrict sales of mechanical movements to third parties, Citizen worried about securing movements for Bulova and began shopping for a Swiss movement producer. La Joux-Perret solved the problem. It also gave Citizen the chance to revive its own outdated mechanical watch technology. Citizen has produced mechanical watches for nearly a century. However, since the quartz revolution, it has focused primarily on electronic watches. “Our mechanical technology is quite far behind because we stopped developing it,” Tokura says. “We have a lot of catching up to do. There are a lot of things we can learn from the Swiss.” Prothor gave Citizen a toe-hold in the premium luxury market. The next step, Tokura told me, was to “buy a Swiss brand to really give us a footprint in that price range.” Frédérique Constant does that. The company, founded by Peter and Aletta Stas in 1988, is a leader in the so-called “accessible luxury” segment of the market. The core prices of the Frédérique Constant and Alpina brands are primarily between $1,000 and $5,000, with some models costing more than $10,000. The company does not divulge sales data, but FC Holding is substantially larger than Prothor Holding. (In 2009, Kepler Capital Markets estimated Frédérique Constant’s annual sales at CHF 150 million and annual production at 90,000 units.) Frédérique Constant also has significant mechanical watch production capacity. It develops, manufactures and assembles its own calibres, 19 of them since 2004, it says. As with the Prothor Holding acquisition, Citizen will leave Frédérique Constant’s current Swiss management in place. Citizen has plenty to do managing the Citizen brand, Tokura says, without trying to manage four luxury mechanical brands. “We don’t have the experience,” he says with a smile. “We don’t know that world. It’s such a mystery to us.” p

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The EDIFICE collection is for Casio the place where the most advanced technologies are tried out, experimented with, and implemented. It’s also the place where these technologies merge with bold, strong, and dynamic design – dedicated to performance, readability, ergonomics and reliability. EDIFICE watches have an analogue display, and are cut and fashioned in solid stainless steel. Brimming with cutting-edge technical features, they have an elegant look that’s uncluttered, sober, and sporty all at once. The most recent addition, the EDIFICE EQB-600 Smartphone Link Series, is a perfect example of this philosophy. It can instantaneously display any time, anywhere in the world, with absolute precision.



AN IMPOSING, SOBER DESIGN From the outside, the new EDIFICE EQB-600 Smartphone Link Series reveals nothing of the amazing technical performance that lies beneath its uncluttered, sober, and highly readable appearance; nonetheless, there’s a hint of great strength. The watch’s powerful presence is as much due to the imposing design of its case and integrated strap as to the sober appearance of its dial, beautiful in its dedication to function. In fact, this beauty and apparent simplicity are the result of an intricate combination of technology and design.

Embedded Bluetooth technology has allowed the Casio designers to focus on the essentials. The EDIFICE EQB-600 Smartphone Link Series may boast some of the most advanced, complete and precise World Time functions, but its uncluttered bezel features none of the usual plethora of city codes. Structured in two layers, one stainless steel and one aluminium, the bezel gives the case a highly distinctive look. Its elegance perfectly highlights the 3D hour markers – combining straight and curved lines, and redolent of strength and sophistication. The gently sloping surfaces of these moulded hour markers add a real sense of depth to the dial. The time zones and day/night status are displayed by means of a hand atop a globe, displayed in the form of a 3D dome. This superb Earth, positioned at 3 o’clock, performs one complete rotation per day, glowing blue or grey (depending on the model), its gentle hue changing depending on the angle of view. The fruit of innumerable tests and trials, this splendid appearance was achieved by polarisation, and makes a powerful contribution to the beauty of the watch, as well as to its obvious functionality. The smooth, eloquent movements of the 3D globe (powered by a high-torque double coil motor) are especially evident when resetting the time zone. Local time automatically takes into account any winter or summer time changes in each region, and is displayed by the large central hands. A sober inner dial at 7 o’clock indicates home time. The local date appears in a window at 5 o’clock, while at 10 o’clock another marker indicates the local day of the week. The overall result is a fully-fledged global time management system that is exemplary in terms of both sobriety and readability.

CONNECTION: FULFILLING THE NEED FOR ABSOLUTE PRECISION The EDIFICE EQB-600 features a Smartphone Link, making it a truly universal watch. Just the thing for all those who need to be free to interact with the whole world and navigate its time zones with absolute precision. People like the drivers in the Scuderia Torro Rosso team, who are used to juggling with different times of day as they constantly travel the world; Casio Edifice is the team’s official partner. The EDIFICE EQB-600’s Bluetooth connection, used in conjunction with a smartphone running iOS or Android, is activated simply by pressing a button on the watch; the Bluetooth connection is shown by an indicator at 11 o’clock on the dial. The result is a full-orbed time management system, guaranteeing absolute precision, wherever you are in the world. The “system” is run using a dedicated Casio Watch+ application, to be downloaded onto your smartphone.

Dual Dial World Time The watch simultaneously displays two times – the time in the place where you are, using the large main hands, and home time, displayed on a small inner dial. Alternatively, if you prefer, the positions of these two times can be swapped. Phone finder A very handy phone detector triggers a tone on your phone, causing it to ring even if the phone is muted. Integrated Tough Solar® technology adds the final touch to Edifice connected watches. An invisible solar cell on the dial absorbs the sun’s rays (as well as the energy contained in artificial light), providing the watch with environmentally-friendly power, completely autonomously. This extra solar energy is loaded in a storage battery, building up a reserve that can last up to 24 months. Replacing batteries is now a thing of the past.

Accurate Time System The Casio Watch+ application receives exact UTC time from a dedicated server, and then analyses it according to the geographical positioning of the smartphone, establishing the right time zone, and taking into account whether or not daylight saving time is in place. It then adjusts the watch automatically via Bluetooth. Automatic Time Adjustment Four times a day, the local time and home time displayed on the watch are automatically checked and, if necessary, adjusted. This operation can also be performed manually when changing time zones, by pressing a button on the watch. World Time for over 300 cities The Casio Watch+ application can also be used to make the watch show the time anywhere else on the planet. A touch-sensitive globe is displayed on the smartphone screen, accompanied by a list of over 300 cities around the world, covering all the different time zones. The time at the selected point on the globe, or city, is directly displayed on the watch via Bluetooth.

Waterproof up to 10 bar (the equivalent of 100 metres), mounted on a robust, hard-wearing and elegant solid stainless steel strap, boasting a tough scratch-resistant mineral glass to protect the watch against unsightly damage, and with hands coated with Neobrite, a particularly effective fluorescent coating, the EDIFICE EQB-600 is a powerful, elegant watch, 51.90 mm long, 47.30 mm wide and 13.30 mm deep. This new release is destined to become a great classic in the EDIFICE line.


ALL EYES ON ANONIMO were brought within a more affordable range, with the Nautilo at 1,950 francs and the Militare Bronze at 4,950 francs. “The watchmaking industry is certainly slow today, but small players like us have a card to play, as we offer a very reasonable price for carefully finished models with recognised elegance.” The watches are assembled at La Chauxde-Fonds, based on a Sellita movement.


t was in 1997, when Panerai was bought by Richemont, that a group of executives from the transalpine brand left the company to found a watchmaking spin-off in Florence: Anonimo, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the marketing clout of the luxury giant. “The idea was to offer a product rather than a name,” underscores Julien Haenny, its new CEO. “The brand, born in Italy and produced in Switzerland, has the Matterhorn as its logo, symbolising the link between the two countries but also echoing our two worlds, the sea and the mountains. We offer efficient, affordable watches with a clear, easy-toread design.” The company rapidly won critical esteem, especially with collectors, but its subsequent history was one of ups and downs and a loss of focus. In 2013, a group of European investors took over the brand, intending to get the company back on track. The (over-) numerous references were pared down and centred on two of the brand’s flagship models, the Militare and the Nautilo. The prices, previously ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 francs,

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it might darken slightly depending on the wearer. Your watch ages with you! And it’s unique, no two are the same.” A dial which is quick and easy to read, a vintage look, with large figures and a crown at 12 o’clock on the Militare are some of the distinctive features of Anonimo, whose customer base is primarily masculine, on the young side (35 to 55), sporty and close to nature. “As for sponsoring, we associate ourselves with Alpine sports, such as telemark skiing, or water sports – exclusive and elegant, just like our watches. We’re back in sailing, for example with our tribute to the best Swiss performance in the SUI Sailing Awards.”



STRONG IDENTITY Unlike many so-called “diving” watches, the Anonimo models are “genuine working tools”, affirms Julien Haenny. The watches are waterproof down to 120 metres. The brand also offers extra bracelets and continues to do R&D, notably on Kodiak leather, a skin treated with seal fat which enables it to be immersed in water and is resistant to salt. Another trump card is that bronze is back with a vengeance this year, and the brand has long been one of the principal specialists of the genre, along with Tudor, Oris and Girard-Perregaux. “A bronze case is constantly evolving, for example

The task now facing the brand is to get its distribution network back up to scratch. Its most important market is Japan, ahead of France, Spain and even Italy. “We’re opening up many markets, but we refuse to work on consignment,” Julien Haenny underscores. “Countries such as the United States, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Scandinavian countries are very worthwhile. One of our advantages is that we’re able to deliver models very rapidly after they’re ordered. And we’re also seeing a new generation of watch retailers emerge, which will help us: they’re interested in new brands with more affordable prices.” For this business chief, the brand is making its comeback at the right time: bronze is in vogue, the vintage look is popular, and people are looking for affordable prices and simple, reassuring storytelling.p (SM)

Photo: Carlo Fachini

Sports watches at highly affordable prices, including models in bronze, and with the Swiss-Italian DNA of a brand born of a spin-off from Panerai in 1997: the right offering at the right time? An interview with Anonimo’s new chief, Julien Haenny.


JEAN MARCEL, VERTICAL LIMIT “Vertical Limit.” Another special, unprecedented feature: by blowing on the sapphire crystal, the condensation of your breath enables you to see the brand logo on the crystal. This is Jean Marcel’s secret signature, a magic created by temperature differences!


ontrary to what its name might suggest, the Jean Marcel brand is actually German, more precisely from Baden-Baden in the south. Launched in 1981 by Jürgen Kuhn (and named after an employee originally from French-speaking Switzerland!), it is now run by the founder and his son, Marcel. “We come from a family of Pforzheim watchmakers and my son, who is in charge of business development, is the fourth Kuhn generation in the watch industry,” proudly explains Jürgen Kuhn. Jean Marcel can rely on the strength of the German market, as domestic sales now represent 80% of its turnover. The brand is, however, Swiss-made: “We assemble our watches in Switzerland with partners, for a total production of about 3,000 watches a year (80% automatic and 20% quartz). Without exception we are using ETA automatic movements for our mechanical collection.” Jean Marcel’s watches incorporate a feature that make them recognisable at first glance: the vertical configuration of the counters and the date on the dial — a registered innovation named

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(3.9 mm) limit, is lightweight with a sapphire crystal. “We get our ultra-thin movements from Isa. Moreover, I was inspired by the feeling you experience when you open the packaging of a new smart phone, to design a special, delicate, intriguing case for this watch.” This fall, Jean Marcel will finally be launching his first women’s collection under the name Émotion. There are round and square models featuring moon phases and mother-of-pearl components, but also sporty and classic models, as in all the company’s collections, which offer many variations.



ULTRA-SLIM MODEL “My goal is to design beautiful watches with real added value. The spirit of our creation is a combination of technical competence — which is not enough in itself — with an aesthetic design that arouses desire. Our ambition is not to make more watches but to develop even more exciting and innovative quality watches.” All Jean Marcel watches are marketed in limited editions of 300 pieces. Jean Marcel recently launched a new modern, sporty collection called Mythos, with carbon inserts on the case sides and some highly distinctive top-quality Valjoux chronographs. Nano, an ultrathin model under the symbolic 4 mm

While the brand has recently focused on the German market, it now seeks to expand internationally. “Ten years ago, we registered good results in the United States and the Middle East, but our partners have changed their management and we unfortunately lost our privileged relations on these markets. It is difficult to find good distributors but these are definitely two priority markets to develop.” As with other watch brands, the economic situation has not been easy lately. “But 2015 was a good year for us, thanks to the strength of the German market! On the other hand, many companies have excessive stocks and do not know what to do with them. This is fortunately not our case because the sell-out is good. We are constantly investing in new collections and are continuously growing step by step.” p (SM)

Photo: Carlo Fachini

This German familyowned brand can rely on its vertical counters and its ultra-thin collection to attract new customers. Indeed, it plans to enhance its international reputation. Meet the founder Jürgen Kuhn.



A WATCHMAKING METEORITE Founded by a Geneva electroplating specialist, the brand is celebrating its second anniversary. It offers bold and affordable personalised models, nut-shaped and luminescent. A frank and plain-spoken interview with StĂŠphane Greco.

OBJECT «I’ve been riding around on this selfbalancing vehicle for two years. This is not necessarily natural, you need about ten hours of training to get used to. It allows me to navigate quickly in town and it is a somewhat futuristic object that satisfies the science fiction in me. » Photo: Carlo Fachini

I’m from Reims in France. I had “You’re usually working in the shadows, no vineyards, so I launched into except when there’s a problem — and watchmaking,” Stephen Greco then it’s a cataclysm! Mechanical watchjokes, with his usual self-assurance. He making is logical, but its chemistry is decided at a very young age to specialise in tricky. A storm can disrupt the balance of electroplating. After settling in Switzerland my baths. You need to understand what in 1991, he worked successively at ETA, lies at the heart of the material. It is like Rolex, Stern Creations, and finally Franck painting: if you want to paint a wall in Muller, before going freelance. pink, you’re bound to notice some unHis most vivid memory is of Franck Muller, evenness.“ where he was given carte blanche and He became tired of purchasing watchworked not only on movements and di- es from his clients, and felt an urge to als, but also on watch casings. “He was make them himself... Two years ago, he my mentor, someone very human, crea- launched his own brand, Greco Genève. His emblematic hallmark: tive and sensitive, who the nut-shaped watch, for gave newcomers a chance. a retail price ranging from I thought that when he 5,000 to 12,000 francs. left, I would set up my own Stéphane Greco is a car company, which occurred enthusiast: he established in 2004. He always suphis “meteoric” showroom ported me and offered me in Lamborghini’s Geneva good advice. He told me garage! “It was interesting never to look back and to LES TEMPS MODERNES to design a watch that does take responsibility for the not have the shape of a watch. I’m workchoices I made.“ Admittedly, Stéphane Greco cultivates a ing on series of eight copies for the collecspirit of independence and demonstrates tion of nut-shaped watches; otherwise, I a strong character! It was therefore inevi- only create unique pieces.” table that he would eventually stand on The nut collection was called “Modern its own. “As soon as I joined the company, Times”, in reference to Charlie Chaplin’s I wanted to be my own boss, to have a film where he is caught in the wheels of form of freedom. I prefer to work freely an assembly line. The square collection 16 hours a day rather than 8 hours feeling “Timesquare” is both for men and womcramped. Today I can choose my clients, en; the round “Timelace” collection is even if the context is difficult and I am in- very airy in comparison; “Trancetime” creasingly annoyed by useless standards. is a fully fluorescent collection; finally, there is the Asteroid model ... “A conThis is not pretentious on my part.” cept-watch, the first “galactic” model -- I would not sell it for less than a milMETEORITE FRAGMENTS lion francs. I am a trained crystallograToday, with his Rhodior company, he pher and gemologist and I love stones, supplies many watchmakers: Roger science-fiction ... I use a fragment of Dubuis, Frédérique Constant, Dubois an iron meteorite that fell 5,000 years & Fils, Patek Philippe, Harry Winston, ago in Campo del Cielo in Argentina. Vacheron Constantin, MB&F, Bovet Antoine Preziuso and Rolex had already Fleurier, Ludovic Ballouard and Antoine produced meteorite dials but here I use Preziuso. He considers electroplating, a rough meteorite. And unlike stony mehowever, as a fairly thankless profession: teorites, iron meteorites are very rare.

LUMINESCENT WATCHES Stéphane Greco has invested CHF 1.5 million — all of Rhodior’s profits— in developing his watches. It took him years to design his fluorescent paint, used on the meteorite model, which is more powerful than Superluminova. The story is incredible: “Central banks have a monopoly on these anti-counterfeiting pigments but I had managed to get some samples. One day I received a call from the European Central Bank: they raided my premises to find out what I was up to. They were very serious but when I turned off the light and showed them my fluorescent watches, they were very quickly impressed and reassured. They authorised me to order an unlimited amount of pigments, but only once. I emptied my bank account and spent 25,000 francs, enough to last for generations because trace amounts of pigments are sufficient.” What are the results two years later? “For sure, I launched a brand at the wrong time... The beginnings were difficult... But I feel that customers are waking up. I’m in an affordable and reasonable price segment for unique Swiss-made pieces. But as the crisis worsens, I sell more square and more conventional watches. “ Stéphane Greco, who crafts practically only personalised watches, operates directly as well as through agents: “Retailers take the mickey, one of them came to see me at Baselworld and wanted to take a 75% commission! They are used to wild margins. On the other hand, agents just take 20% and consignment stock. Furthermore, you must be in the dark and use UV mode to see the fluorescence — hardly ideal for a storefront retailer... My hopes rest with the United States, France and Switzerland first. These fluorescent watches are well suited to the night world, for DJ’s for example. p (SM)

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llivier Savelli wears an unusual work overall. Not the blue overall watchmakers usually wear –his outfit is more reminiscent of a top chef. And with good reason: this is the outfit worn by France’s best artisans, complete with a rosette and medal. It turns out that Ollivier Savelli won the distinction in the jewellery category in 2000. And today, it is impossible to miss him at any watchmaking fair! “It isn’t bragging, it’s a way of demonstrating my fondness for the artisanal values of my trade and training. I was also a ‘Compagnon du Tour de France’ for several years. We travelled from village to village in France, exercising our craftsmanship on the spot.” The jeweller evolved into a watchmaker very gradually, finally creating his own brand, christened Ollivier Savéo, in September 2014. From 2004 to 2006 he worked for a consultancy in France, with a customer base of numerous large jewellery and watchmaking companies, from entry level to high end. It was in this context that he began working with Roger Dubuis, to cite one example, to develop their jewellery collections. This was when he caught the watchmaking bug, and also set himself the mission of creating greater dialogue between watchmakers

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and jewellers. Ollivier Savelli was then entrusted with the task of restructuring a Ticino-based company specialising in the design of clasps for watch cases, working with brands such as Richemont, among others.

AN ARTISAN AT HEART The budding watchmaker continued his career with a trip to China, where his task was to restructure a local business working in the private-label watchmaking market. “A real culture shock!” It was after a stint with Quinting that Ollivier Savelli decided to take the plunge and create his own watchmaking brand: “I’ve always been an artisan at heart and I financed myself. A watch has to tell a story. For me, it was very important to build a strong bridge between jewellery and watchmaking.” His creations are massive, richly ornamented and polarising. Their ‘ogive’ shape with a very large sapphire crystal produces an effect of great transparency, offering a fine panoramic view of the entire movement, which is designed as much as a decoration as a mechanism. The series, all limited to 38 items and every one unique because they are cus-

tomisable, are assembled at MHC with Vaucher Manufacture movements. “With one and the same case you can create several, highly distinct worlds – automobiles with Speed F1, poetry with Butterfly or Foliage, memento mori with Skull…” One of the most original models has to be Petroleum, which represents the entire journey of oil from extraction to distribution and includes a sapphire tube to hold its owner’s very own black gold! “My references range from steampunk to art nouveau.”

ULTRA-EXCLUSIVE PRODUCTION The potential customer base for these large and very impressive watches is of course stronger in the Middle East, Singapore and Russia. “My creations are close to bespoke, because I can personalise many of the elements. My customers are wealthy people who already have collections from the major brands, who are truly interested in horology and are looking for exclusive items.” So what is the bottom line, nearly two years after launch? “During the first year, my aim was to build the brand and work on the products. Now I have to build up a network.” The starting price of the models is 54,000 Swiss francs: “I think I can sell half my production directly and the other half through ten or fifteen boutiques worldwide. My goals remain modest; I aim to produce between 15 and 30 watches a year.” But why did he call his brand Savéo and not Savelli, his real name? “That brand had already been registered by Alessandro Savelli!”p (SM)

Photo: Carlo Fachini

A trained jeweller who won the ‘Best Artisan in France’ (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) title, Ollivier Savelli created his own brand in 2014. We asked him about his very large, richly ornamented, polarising watches.


THE END Cindy Livingston, the CEO and President of Sequel AG, announced her retirement at this year’s Baselworld. by Malcolm D. Lakin


t was twenty-five years ago that those colourful and trendy Guess fashion watches were presented to an incredulous international audience at prices hitherto associated with plastic watches. Guess was a success and by the end of 2000, nine years after the brand’s first appearance at Baselworld, the timepieces were to be found in 12,000 retail locations in more than seventy countries. In 1997 Cindy Livingston went a step further and launched the brand Gc. Whereas the Guess brand follows trends from everything from architecture to automobiles, Gc is inspired by the high-end Swiss watch industry and follows those trends aimed at young people who are moving away from fashion watches and want something better at an affordable price before they are able to pay for a Rolex, Hublot or Cartier.

WHO WAS THAT LADY? I first met Cindy Livingston, without knowing who she was, when I asked one of the receptionists on the bustling Guess booth if someone could show me the latest collection and give me some technical information. A short time later a very attractive and charming blonde lady, dressed in white (or

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was it grey?) appeared and literally walked me through the collection in the display cabinets. On leaving the booth I discovered from her business card that she was in fact the President and CEO of Callanen International, the subsidiary of the Timex Group responsible for the marketing and distribution of Guess and several other branded watches. I returned the following year accompanied by our then Art Director, Jacques Schmitz, who, armed with a sophisticated camera, captured for posterity a charming photograph of Cindy leaning on the reception counter alongside a bouquet of roses. Hopeless with dates, I asked Cindy recently when all that took place and she said it was somewhere between fifteen and twenty years ago. Since then, I have made the annual pilgrimage at Baselworld to see the latest Guess and Gc collections and have a chat and a coffee with the Lady herself. In the evening of the opening day of this year’s show, Sequel held a retirement party for Cindy. I expected a few moist eyes but apart from a brief moment during Cindy’s thank you speech, it was far from a maudlin affair, it was a celebration of her achievements accompanied by loud music, dancing, food and free-flowing wine. Then came her speech … “Well, what can I say, 27 great years, 125 million watches later, 3400 watch designs, 2 million faxes, 5 million emails, 3000 conference calls, 3 million miles, 68 board meetings, 48 international meetings, 25 Basel fairs and 4,288,083 Facebook fans. Mind boggling for someone as young as me don’t you think?”

There were references to her colleagues, distributing partners and friends and then Cindy concluded with, “I want you all to know that retirement from a great job and a great company with great people who are your friends is an incredible gift. For those of you who know me well and how I live my life, I do not intend to waste one precious minute, I have places to go and things to do. But before I leave you tonight I want to share with you my favourite retirement quote: Retirement means it is only time for a new adventure.”

YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW The following day I sat with Cindy on the Guess/Gc booth and asked her what had been the most gratifying part of her role as a CEO. “Well certainly the most fascinating part of my work was introducing a fashion watch brand to the international markets, taking it into a hundred countries, maintaining its image and tweaking it to fit into the different lifestyles. The company created a brand with a personality and that stems from the people who work there. In the 80s we began with one brass case and two sizes with an embossed strap and a printed dial. Today the products have developed and evolved beyond recognition; the difference is like chalk and cheese. We’re now into 3-D printing and wearable technology.” Then came the inevitable: So what are you going to do now? “I’m going to maintain my Swiss residency, my apartment in New York and

my home in Bali. I’m going to be a vagabond. I love Switzerland and Europe but I have to figure out what I want to do. I may come back into the watch industry if it involves people I love or respect, or I may never come back. One possibility is to work in consultancy or marketing, maybe become a board member of companies that interest me. One thing is for sure, for the next six or seven months I’m going to be involved in fund-raising for Hillary Clinton in her campaign for the American presidency. It’s something that I’m passionate about - it’s something different - there are no products involved. After that I’m going to spend more time in Nusa Dua, Bali, where my late husband and some friends built a fabulous house on a clifftop overlooking the Indian Ocean. I love the country and the people, they’re very hospitable and they have amazing design talents and I love their floral arrangements. I can relax there, it’s a very spiritual place - I even have four temples on the property.” Cindy Livingston was a rare pearl in the watch industry, not only because she was a trendsetter who brought colour and zest to a lacklustre industry, but also because she was a lady in what is predominantly a man’s industry. Inevitably, the show will go on. Somebody will take over the helm of Sequel, of Guess, of Gc, but Cindy Livingston will never be replaced simply because she was, and remains, unique. Yes, the show will go on … but it will never be the same. p

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EDITORIAL & ADVERTISERS’ INDEX Alpina 30, 34, 46 André Mouche 34 Anonimo 54, 55 Antoine Preziuso 59 Arnold & Son 46, 49 Atlantic 34 Bovet Fleurier 59 Breguet 36 Bulgari 29 Bulova 35, 46 Cartier 36 Casio 51, 52, 53 Certina 29 Chanel COVER IV, 37 Citizen 13, 20, 25, 46, 47, 48, 49 Concepto 14, 22 Corum 26, 38, 39, 40 Cover 34 Dubois-Dépraz 14 Dubois & Fils 59 ETA 7, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 59 Eterna 26, 38, 40 Eterna Movement 14, 26, 38, 40 Felsa 27

Franck Muller 59 Frédérique Constant 15, 30, 34, 46, 49, 59 Gc 62, 63 Greco Genève 58, 59 Gucci 35 Guess 62, 63 Harry Winston 59 Hermès 24, 37 IMH 27 Inhorgenta Munich 31 Jean Marcel 17, 56, 57 Julien Coudray 27 La Joux-Perret 14, 20, 46, 49 Lebeau-Courally 27 Louis Erard 32 Louis Vuitton 5 Ludovic Ballouard 59 MB&F 59 MHC 60 Montblanc 29 Movado 42, 43, 44, 45 Nivarox-FAR 13, 16, 23 Ollivier Savéo 60, 61 Oris 14 Panerai 54 Parmigiani Fleurier 24

Patek Philippe COVER I, 8, 9, 10, 11, 59 Promotion SpA 50 Quinting 60 Ralph Lauren 36, 37 Raymond Weil 32 Richard Mille 24 Richemont 13, 36, 54 RJ-Romain Jerome 32 Roger Dubuis 59, 60 Rolex COVER II, 3, 13, 59 Ronda 14, 18, 19 Salin 41 Seiko COVER III Sellita 12, 19, 24, 26 Sequel 62, 63 Soprod 22 Swatch Group 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 23 TAG Heuer 13 Technotime 14, 23 Urban Jürgensen 21 Vacheron Constantin 30 Vaucher Manufacture 14, 24, 26, 60 Walca 33 Zenith 16



EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Pierre M. Maillard • Managing Editor: Serge Maillard • Editor Jewels: Jeta B • Senior Editor: D. Malcolm Lakin • Editors China: Jean-Luc Adam, Woody Hu • Editor Spain: Carles Sapena • Art: Alexis Sgouridis • PUBLISHING / MARKETING / SALES Nathalie Glattfelder • Tel: +41 22 307 78 37 • Marianne Bechtel Croze • Tel: +41 79 379 82 71 • Jocelyne Bailly • Tel: +41 22 307 78 37 • PUBLISHER - CEO: Serge Maillard CHAIRMAN: Philippe Maillard MANAGEMENT / ACCOUNTING Business Manager: Catherine Giloux. Tel: +41 22 307 78 48 • MAGAZINES Europa Star - Europe - International - USA & Canada China - Latin America / Spain - Europa Star Jewels - Europa Star Première - Bulletin d’informations - Eurotec





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BREWING EXIT? by Jeta B, Editor, Jewels Fashion blogger, @trulavina Content strategist @JetaBejtullahu,


ea bag IN or OUT?’ Brits ask you when brewing your cup of tea. Comedian James Acaster nailed it with his Brexit tea bag analogy. Leave the tea bag IN, he said, you get a stronger cup of tea. Get the tea bag OUT, you get a weaker cup of tea. But, once the tea bag is OUT, it goes straight in the bin. The OUT vote is anything but a joke. Watching Britain unravel in the span of 24 hours was like watching a supercharged episode of House of Cards. It felt like President Underwood would come on screen anytime now to offer his insightful sinister monologue about the shock. We can debate for days on end whether the vote was ill-informed, a protest vote, or a genuine sentiment; whether it was an internal Tory power struggle played with high stakes or whether the IN campaign failed to make the case for the economic benefits of the EU. Probably all of the above and more. Fundamentally, Brexit was a revolt against migration, whether real or perceived. As disappointed as the Brits were, it is the ‘foreigners’ who got the real punch in the face. If Muhammad Ali had delivered my personal punch, it would have probably hurt less. As a Europhile with a diploma in EU studies and a fan of quintessential quirky Britishness, I am left with a very bad taste in my mouth. So are the luxury fashion brands

like Burberry, Mulberry, and Vivienne Westwood that rely on that very quintessential Britishness when marketing their brands globally. It is the vibrant, creative, and eccentric London style that international customers buy into. Will MADE IN BRITAIN lose its appeal? In the short run, a weak pound has led to a boost in sales as luxury tourists flocked to London. Harrods is having a ball with increased sales while brands are generally keeping their fears about the future in the closet. UK is the sixth largest market for luxury spending and it could easily be the cheapest one in the world right now. It is hardly surprising there is a boost in high end jewellery sales and Swiss watch exports. If the luxury watch can be up to 20% cheaper, why not hop on a flight and enjoy a few nights in London too? It has been a conveniently warm summer anyway. A match made in heaven! It remains to be seen whether luxury brands will be able to withstand further market disruption. Besides quintessential Britishness, the UK’s luxury industry is heavily reliant on exports and it needs free movement of goods and a stable exchange rate. Theresa May’s Brexit brainstorming confirmed she will be pursuing border controls at any cost. There will be tensions as the Treasury fights to keep access to the EU single market and London’s status as a global financial capital. No wonder Britain is brewing exit a bit longer. When it comes to luxuries, will this tea be a strong or a weak one? Let’s hope the tea bag does not end up in the bin. p

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IF YOU CAN’T FIX IT, by D. Malcolm Lakin


riday, June 24, 2016, the morning after 17,410,742 Britons voted to leave the EU, the ferry I was on from Guernsey docked in Poole, Dorset in the south of England. There were no flags or bunting; peace and serenity reigned. And yet the newspapers, television pundits, economists and the so-called political specialists had proclaimed that a ’leave’ vote would immediately see the sceptred isle sink below economic waves of tsunamic proportions. But it was low tide in Poole and drowning was as likely as finding a Coca Cola vending machine in the middle of the Sahara. In the farcical run-up to the Brexit referendum the British government had miscalculated their use of bullying tactics by plucking fictitious financial figures from the air that suggested everyone would lose vast sums of money, viable companies would become insolvent, banks would go bankrupt and millions of people would be instantly out of work. David Cameron, the then prime minister, saw himself as invulnerable because of the margin of his win in last year’s general election, but his bully-boy philosophy of frightening voters combined with his failure to obtain concessions from Brussels and his ill-judged timing for a Brexit referendum meant he blew it, he shot himself in the foot and consequently got his comeuppance. He has since resigned, leaving someone else to sort out the mess whilst he looks destined for the lucrative afterdinner speech circuit whereby he explains why everyone but himself got it wrong. Having lived longer on this side of La Manche as opposed to the UK side of the English Channel, I consider myself

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European with a British passport and a Swiss Permit C yet I couldn’t help feeling that a Brexit vote was ultimately inevitable. Britain joined the European Economic Community, or the Common Market as it was called in 1973, when it accounted for 36 per cent of the world economy as opposed to today’s 17 per cent. Back then the EU concept was all about it being a market. But the ensuing years saw it become a political force that now legislates for its members, thus relieving them of any semblance of independence. Brussels now decides the size, shape and contents of a Bratwurst and the acceptable curvature of a banana, what farmers should grow and when, but more importantly, it has slowly acquired the fixtures and fittings of a nation: there is a president, a foreign minister, citizenship and a passport, its own currency, a criminal justice system, a written constitution, a flag and a national anthem, and it is these dictatorial trappings that the British people have reacted against along with that burning topic of topics, the imposition of quotas of millions of refugees. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should ignore the plight of the thousands of genuine refugees from war-torn countries, but I am suggesting that the 75 per cent of the so-called migrants who have jumped on the bandwagon for purely economic reasons and receive housing, food, medical care and even pocket money ahead of the tax-paying

European nationals who have their own problems, should be treated differently. I don’t have the answer to that particular conundrum, if I did I’d probably be shuffling paper in Brussels. However, the all-important question is will Brexit be a total disaster for the UK? I think not. Before the UK abandons the EU there will be lengthy negotiations, but the day the UK officially leaves is the day it becomes the EU’s single largest export market. Of course trading will continue, can you see Germany refusing to export cars to the UK or the French rejecting overtures for their wine and cheeses? No way! The good news for UK-bound travellers is that they will see more pounds Sterling for their money as the currency has dropped in value against the Swiss franc and the Euro thus making purchases there very interesting – as my replacement Breitling watch confirms. Out of interest, the Brexit referendum is not legally binding: the elected members of the British Parliament could decide to ignore the will of the people and vote against it. Unlikely yes, but theoretically possible. Personally I believe that the UK will prosper out of the EU and will rediscover its originality as a nation again, with the continued benefits of imported European cuisine. My apologies for being serious for once, but Brexit may yet prove to be the beginning of a movement to be followed by Grexit, Bulgaroff, Czechout, Departugal, Italeave, Finish, Francoff, Oustria, Polaxe, and Slovakout. You don’t have to laugh, a smile will do. p

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Europa Star Europe 4/2016  
Europa Star Europe 4/2016