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Elegance is an attitude Simon Baker
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BY SERGE MAILLARD
s a new edition of the SIHH opens, let’s say it right away: last year brought us some concerns about the evolution of the Richemont group’s watch brands, which are the backbone of the show. We are speaking, after all, of the largest consolidated group in the high-end segment. Our expectations should be high, considering the financial means invested in the brands. However, in 2018 – notwithstanding some exceptions that we highlighted during the year, especially in the group's entry-level brands, like Baume & Mercier or Montblanc – we didn’t feel a strong emotional connection to many of the timepieces introduced. Many of them seemed pretty standard, without the “soul” that has made the horological art great again in the last two decades. Watchmaking Many launches tried very hard to tick all the boxes of the “generational” watch. The marketing plan behind the timepieces presented genius cannot was often far too obvious, with a particular digital and millenial be dictated by obsession that has only succeeded in alienating many purists and shareholder watch lovers. Many launches were too obviously the product of a somewhat “technocratic” approach to luxury: a bit cold and distant pressure. in a world that is precisely becoming more and more horizontal. For instance, we had much higher expectations for the Grande Maison Jaeger-LeCoultre, which should be the true horological jewel of the group. Last year’s collections seemed a little off the radar, and the digital campaign for the end of the year was frankly reminiscent of a mid-range brand, rather than the beautiful company with a long history that is Jaeger-LeCoultre. There have been waves of change in the brands’ management, in an effort to catch up with new generations. But it is not all about age. Vintage is all the rage, now. What seems to be lacking is more strategic long-term consistency. High staff turnover and the use of a multitude of external agencies are not conducive to the sustainable implementation of production and distribution strategies. Watchmaking genius cannot be dictated by shareholder pressure. We hope that this new edition of the SIHH will overturn our diagnosis. At a time when everyone is insisting on the concept of authenticity, Richemont’s watch brands must once again become Houses with a capital H. But it's not enough just to write it.
GLOBAL EDITION | CHAPTER 1.2019 CHANEL BOY∙FRIEND SKELETON CALIBRE 3
The Calibre 3 appears to be suspended inside its natural setting, sandwiched between two bevelled sapphire crystals. The Boy∙Friend Skeleton beige gold case and the black movement with its gilded edges form a single indivisible whole, a vision of lightness and coherence.
CHANEL: WHERE THE MOVEMENT IS DICTATED BY STYLE
GEORGES DUBOIS THE OLDEST WATCHMAKER IN THE WORLD
24 TIM MALACHARD | RICHARD MILLE 28 CARLOS-A. ROSILLO | BELL & ROSS 32 MATTHIAS BRESCHAN | RADO 36 GEOFFROY LEFEBVRE | BAUME & MERCIER 40 NIELS EGGERDING | FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT 44 CARLO GIORDANETTI | CALVIN KLEIN 48 AUREL BACS | PHILLIPS WITH BACS & RUSSO
CHANEL Horlogerie – Joaillerie 18, place Vendôme 750001 Paris / France Phone: +33 1 40 98 55 55 www.chanel.com
5 UNDERRATED CHRONOGRAPH CALIBRES
92 E-COMMERCE AND PRE-OWNED 98 E-RETAIL IN THE USA 101 WATCHES ON CREDIT 102 BITCOINS 106 STARTUP 110 INSTAGRAM 114 CROWDFUNDING 116 FAKE NEWS
78 MEXICO 84 PAKISTAN 86 NIGERIA 88 PANAMA
68 URWERK 70 URBAN JÜRGENSEN 72 TAG HEUER 74 JEAN MARCEL
DEMOCRATIC WATCHES 54 CARTOONS 56 SPORTS 60 CONNECTED 62 DESIGN 64 MUST 66 MISCELLANEOUS
SUBSCRIBE TO EUROPA STAR MAGAZINE www.europastar.com/subscribe | SUBSCRIBE TO THE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER www.europastar.com/newsletter | CHAIRMAN Philippe Maillard PUBLISHER Serge Maillard EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Pierre Maillard CONCEPTION & DESIGN Serge Maillard, Pierre Maillard, Alexis Sgouridis DIGITAL EDITOR Ashkhen Longet PUBLISHING / MARKETING / CIRCULATION Nathalie Glattfelder, Marianne Bechtel/Bab-Consulting, Jocelyne Bailly, Véronique Zorzi BUSINESS MANAGER Catherine Giloux MAGAZINES Europa Star Global | USA | China | Première (Switzerland) | Bulletin d’informations | Eurotec EUROPA STAR HBM SA Route des Acacias 25, CH-1227 Geneva - Switzerland, Tel +41 22 307 78 37, Fax +41 22 300 37 48, firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2018 EUROPA STAR | All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Europa Star HBM SA Geneva. The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily Europa Star. Subscription service | Europa Star | 5 issues | Worldwide airmail delivery CHF 90 | Subscription orders via: europastar.com/subscribe | Enquiries: email@example.com ISSN 2504-4591 | www.europastar.com |
CALIBRE 3 Chanel manufactured skeleton mechanical movement with manual winding, displaying hours, minutes and seconds. Power reserve: 55 hours. Water-resistance: 30 metres. Number of components: 114. Number of rubies: 21. Frequency: 28,800 vibrations/hour (4 Hz). Motor organ: 1 fixed-clamp barrel. Anti-shock system for the balance. Variable inertia balance. Functions: hours, minutes and seconds. Skeleton movement: brass bridge and plates with black ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon) edging. Beige gold border attained through galvanic treatment.
WHERE THE MOVEMENT IS DICTATED BY STYLE BY PIERRE MAILLARD
Since making its grand entrance into the watch industry in 1987 with the appropriately named Première, Chanel has succeeded in projecting a unique style, with precise aesthetic codes executed with exemplary consistency. And, unlike traditional Swiss watchmakers, which have historically put the movement in control, Chanel has placed the movement, the mechanism, entirely in thrall to aesthetics. Function follows form. Or, in other words, the movement is dictated by style.
aving climbed the rungs of the ladder that leads to what is conventionally called Haute Horlogerie, Chanel has gained acceptance while constantly reaffirming and reiterating its abiding stylistic codes: black, white, geometric shapes, quilting, pearls, the camellia, etc. This consistency and rigour have made each of its watch models an enduring success. The famous J12, for example, lends itself to all manner of evolutions without ever deviating from its strong and elegant personality. The latest in line, the transgressive Boy∙Friend, demonstrates these qualities anew with the Calibre 3, which was designed specifically to fit inside the existing watch case.
A skeleton watch This autumn, the Boy∙Friend Skeleton Calibre 3 by Chanel was awarded the Ladies Watch prize at the GPHG. Chanel won the same prize the previous year, for the Première Squelette Camélia Calibre 2. (Chanel has won a total of five GPHG Grands Prix.) So how can we explain two wins, in two consecutive years, both for skeleton-type mechanical watches, for women?
The term “skeleton” is in fact a traditional horological category, for whose introduction we can thank clockmaker André-Charles Caron who, in 1760, was the first person to do away with a dial, the better to reveal the secrets of the movement beneath. The operation known as “skeletonising” generally consists of hollowing out as much of the movement’s components and structure as possible to produce the greatest visibility, a bit like mechanical lace-making. In the vast majority of cases, this operation is executed on an existing movement, which is pierced, cut away, lightened and adapted to produce a particular visual setting. But Chanel, with its Calibres 2 and 3 that were entirely designed and created in-house, took a completely different approach.
Function follows form The traditional watchmaker takes the movement as his starting point. He looks for the best way of skeletonising it, hollows out the components, adjusts its architecture and finishes the movement in accordance with the style he wants to give to the watch. He then makes sure the case fits, and cases up the completed watch. Although this is a remarkable feat in itself, Chanel takes the opposite approach. Because of its history – the myth of Chanel, its ascendancy over the world of couture, Paris – Chanel has none of this horological baggage. What it does have is the immense legacy of Gabrielle Chanel, brilliantly preserved and enhanced by Karl Lagerfeld, and its strong and enduring identity.
BOY∙FRIEND SKELETON 18k beige gold case and bezel. 18k beige gold crown with onyx cabochon. Beige gold-plated hands. Shiny black alligator strap with 18k beige gold ardillon buckle. Total gold weight: ~37 g. Dimensions: 37 x 28.6 x 8.40 mm.
Chanel takes style, not technique, as its starting point. And it’s up to the latter to adapt to the former. In this case, it meant that the movement had to be suspended inside the case of the astutely named Boy∙Friend. The collection launched in 2015 has an androgynous style – some have even called it transgender. It’s a man’s watch, intended for women; women who are now as knowledgeable about mechanical watchmaking as men, but who nevertheless prefer not to have their aesthetics overshadowed by technical considerations. For Chanel's Watchmaking Studio of Creation, which is where every project begins, the skeleton movement had to conform to the octagonal case shape with its truncated corners. It also had to appear to be floating inside the case. And as no such movement existed, it had to be created from scratch. Throughout this creative process, the inventiveness and artistry of the watchmakers was dictated by design. This process raised several mechanical conundrums, and led to some cutting-edge research. It took three years to complete.
According to the design brief, the movement was not supposed to disappear entirely; it was merely to fade into the background behind three vertically aligned overlapping circles: three circles that gave the structure its design; three circles that represented the watch’s essence – from top to bottom, the energy accumulated in the barrel spring, the hours and minutes, and the small second; three circles that dictated the architecture of the movement. All the complex interplay of wheels and gears, adjustments and winding had to be built and arranged to fade into the background, to pull back and leave centre stage to those simple but graphically dominant circles. The movement was built around a linear construction, which meant that all its components had to be redesigned and readjusted. It's black, all its wheels are solid discs, and there are no visible screws. All that is visible, partially revealed behind the circular bridges, is the heart of the Calibre 3: its escape wheel and balance spring. In order to avoid spoiling the view with the oscillating weight of an automatic, this watch is hand wound. When the crown is turned, a diminutive gear train of slim wheels – the only ones that can be seen – springs into action to send energy into the barrel spring. Thus, the Calibre 3 appears to be suspended inside its natural setting, sandwiched between two bevelled sapphire crystals. The beige gold case and the black movement with its gilded edges form a single indivisible whole, a vision of lightness and coherence.
The long road to aesthetic coherence But in order for the style to come through and coherence to be achieved, considerable skill is needed, and cutting-edge research must sometimes be undertaken to find the best technical solution. The disc wheels, designed by stylists, are a good example. They venture beyond mere functionality to play an additional aesthetic role, underpinning the three circles that dominate and structure the design. It’s not by chance that most wheels used in watchmaking have spokes. They provide strength and stiffness, and help to keep them perfectly flat. The
BOY∙FRIEND SKELETON DIAMONDS 18k beige gold case and bezel set with 66 brilliant-cut diamonds. 18k beige gold crown with onyx cabochon. Beige gold-plated hands. Shiny black alligator strap with 18k beige gold ardillon buckle set with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds. Total gold weight: ~37 g. Dimensions: 37 x 28.6 x 8.40 mm.
disc wheels that characterise the Calibre 3 are difficult if not impossible to execute using traditional techniques, which is why here they have been created via 3D printing, by a procedure known as galvanic growth. It’s a complex technological procedure that has apparently never before been used for watch movement parts. Another stylistic element that threw up a considerable technical challenge was the finish of the suspended bridges, which are in a harmonious combination of black ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon) coating, and chamfered edges galvanised with beige gold. This single element is subjected to two different treatments, which must seamlessly dovetail together. The ultimate aim is that, stylistically, the movement, bezel and case should form a single sculpture, and the shapes should be defined by just two colours – the unusual muted glow of 18k beige gold, against the black surface treatments. There’s also the diamond bezel that frames the jewellery version of the Boy∙Friend Skeleton Calibre 3.
An immediate success On its introduction at the Baselworld 2018 watch fair, the Boy∙Friend Skeleton Calibre 3 immediately earned kudos for its horological relevance and its confident styling. It speaks not only to the superlative technical prowess of Chanel’s watchmaking teams, but also to the faultless good taste that defines Chanel’s style and makes it so timeless. But the most valuable verdict is probably that delivered by those women for whom this witty and sophisticated Boy∙Friend is intended, and who see in this “transgender mechanical skeleton” a formal purity that will never go out of style.
On the evening of 9 November at the GPHG awards ceremony, Georges Dubois, age 97, came onstage to award the Prize for the Best Young Student of the École d’Horlogerie de Genève, the watchmaking school in Geneva. The anonymous watchmaker suddenly came out of the shadows. His verve, loquaciousness, clear-headedness and undiminished enthusiasm won the audience’s hearts.
THE OLDEST WATCHMAKER IN THE WORLD
TEXT: PIERRE MAILLARD | PHOTOS: GUILLAUME PERRET / LUNDI13 (Winner of the Swiss Press Awards 2018)
orn in 1921, Georges Dubois still lives in the small house bought by his father in 1923. Around the age of 15, not knowing what do in life but needing to “earn a bit of money”, he began working for a leather strap manufacturer and delivered the straps to the watchmaking workshops. “I saw all these watchmakers bent over their workbenches with their loupes in their eyes and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. That wasn’t for me.” He wanted to become a confectioner, but didn’t like working nights. But watchmaking soon caught up with him. He was interested in mechanics but due to a lack of places was forced to enrol in a preparatory course at the École d’Horlogerie. That’s when it clicked. “I loved it immediately, the calmness, the serenity of it, and the friendship between the watchmakers, like between bikers. We’re bound together by precision, passion and concentration,” he comments with a twinkle in his eye. He graduated brilliantly in 1941 and was engaged by Rolex. “There were 17 of us in the workshop, we had one week’s paid holiday a year and I earned CHF150 a month. But I got to know Hans Wilsdorf very well, a wonderful guy, a very nice man.” After three years of an illness that prevented him from continuing, he recovered, “went and got my strength back on a farm”, then joined Patek Philippe. That was in 1948. He stayed there 38 years.
“I appreciated it right away, because I was able to practise my trade to the full. I started with the winding mechanism, we satin-brushed, polished, bevelled. And after that, I did just about everything: repairing escapements – a task that demanded precision down to one-hundredth of a millimetre. I did the casing-up, set enamelled dials, regulated balance springs, balanced balance wheels. Then I specialised in assembling dome clocks with their enamelled panels. No room for mistakes there. Right up to my retirement, I assembled every one of them,” he notes with pride. When asked what he thinks of watchmaking today, Georges answers unhesitatingly: “I’ve visited workshops… It isn’t watchmakers assembling the watches any more, but operators, each one doing a limited task. It’s not the same. Before, there were only watchmakers! I’ve had a good life.” His sole regret is for his wife, whom he met at Patek and who died 15 years ago. “Beautiful? Oh yes. And such a lovely nature. I couldn’t have found anyone better. She was 10 years younger than me.” And for the first time, a tinge of nostalgia comes into his eyes.
In the basement of the house of Georges Dubois, who in his spare time used to repair antique clocks and make things, there is a complete watchmaking and mechanical workshop, painstakingly created over the decades. He has already donated a large part of his impressive collection of watchmaking tools from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to his home town.
1 MICROMETER “The micrometer? We had to make one at the watchmaking school. One heck of an exercise in precision. I'm very proud of it. It measures to 1/10th of a millimetre.”
2 SCHOOL WATCH “My school watch. We had to make one from start to finish. In the end, I won the Golay & Stahl prize. That's why Rolex hired me.” 3 SMALL WOODEN PLANE “This plane is a Catalina. The proportions are perfectly accurate. I started it with an axe; I carved it out of a log. That was in a hut, during the war, when I was mobilised at the border. I’ve always loved wood.”
4 TOOLS “Of all the tools, my favourite is this hammer. It’s so elegant, so fine. It’s made of brass, not steel, so as not to damage the pieces you hammer.” 5 ELEPHANT AND WOODEN STATUE “I was 18 when I made the elephant. It was for a friend. To sculpt the statuette, I took inspiration from a photo of the Ivory Coast that I liked.” 6 WOODEN PISTOL “My daughter was going to a fancy dress party. So with my lathes I made her a wooden pistol. I think it took me an afternoon.” 7 GIFT FROM PATEK PHILIPPE “I received this watch in 1973 for my 25th anniversary with the company. I never take it off, even when I’m gardening. I've had it on my wrist for 45 years.”
os illo |B ell & Ro ss
illi wi th cs
Ba & Ru s so
|F rĂŠd ĂŠri qu e
gg erd ing
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We talked independence with Richard Mille, vintage with Baume & Mercier, disruption with Bell & Ross, fashion with Calvin Klein, connection with Frédérique Constant, China with Rado and the Apple Watch with Aurel Bacs. 23
A CH I N B S AR D OL D M E P U IL E N T E LE D EN C E
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Tim Malachard, marketing director of Richard Mille
The largest Richard Mille flagship store in the world opened last year in New York
ÂŠJ ero m
RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman
RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph McLaren
The brand has stubbornly followed its own destiny in an era of domination by the groups. Richard Mille has paved the way for success by imposing his own tastes, without letting anyone else dictate his strategies. Interview with Tim Malachard, marketing director of this family business.
f we were to list the three “historical” watch brands with the most consistent and successful strategies, we would reel off the names Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, with an almost Pavlovian reflex. If we had to perform the same exercise looking at the last two decades, for a new actor, Richard Mille’s name would probably be at the top of the list. It is enough to look at auctions – the best and most revealing benchmark of the desirability and rating of watchmaking companies over time – and not the frenzy of saturation watch coverage we are subjected to throughout the year. At Phillips, which reigns supreme in this sector, Richard Mille is a serious challenger to the historic “Big Three” – alongside another contemporary champion of independent intransigence, François-Paul Journe. It is not uncommon for a newly acquired timepiece to immediately lose 40% to 50% of its original value as soon as it leaves the store. However, in the booming pre-owned market, the brand founded in 2001 is one of the few to maintain or increase its value, with some of its new products even leading to waiting lists comparable to those of a Nautilus or a GMT-Master II Pepsi. Is this the reason why Richard Mille has taken the drastic decision to no longer be represented by multi-brand stores, and instead to concentrate on his network of boutiques, while simultaneously opting out of the SIHH? As the brand was quietly preparing for its last trade fair in Geneva, Tim Malachard, one of the company’s key managers in charge of marketing, answered our questions.
Europa Star: In 2018 you produced 4,600 watches, a figure that is up from 2017. What is Richard Mille’s maximum limit in terms of volume, for you to retain your exclusivity? Tim Malachard: Every year, we increase our production volumes by 10% to 15%. In 2019, we should therefore reach a total of 5,200 watches. It is difficult to put a maximum limit on our niche: indeed, with an average price of 200,000 francs, we don’t really have a direct competitor or a reference point! We certainly do not intend to do “volume”. Our quantities are also determined by store openings, such as our recent opening in New York – our largest store in the world to date – as well as Istanbul and Moscow. Indeed, you announced your decision to withdraw from the SIHH as of 2020 as a consequence of your desire to distribute your models exclusively through your own stores. An important clarification on this subject: we are not cutting off links with our most important partners. Our distribution strategy is now based on boutiques that we control directly, or franchises operated by partners, as is the case in Toronto or Monaco today. We also want to take stakes in franchises. We want to be involved everywhere and at all times. What is certain is that we will no longer be present in multi-brand retail stores by the end of 2019. Why this drastic choice? We have been announcing this development for several years now. Our concern is really about how we present the brand to customers. We now have more than 60 models and eight in-house calibres. We are grateful to the retailers, and acknowledge all their work for the brand. But only Richard Mille’s own stores can show a representative sample of our collections, combined with the factor of the availability of the timepieces. This is less the case in a multi-brand environment.
Do you plan, as more and more watch brands are doing, to buy and restore pre-owned models yourself?
By withdrawing from a major trade show and multi-brand points of sale, aren’t you cutting yourself off from the watchmaking ecosystem? We remain very close to the industry. I believe, once again, that the case of Richard Mille is really special in watchmaking. Both the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the retailers understand and respect this choice. I have not heard any criticism on this matter. In our own stores, we can train our sales people and take better care of our customers. We control our sales, margins and image directly. In other sectors, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, for example, chose this path a very long time ago. What role do you give the internet, in terms of controlling your image and your sales?
Can you give us a preview of your plans for 2019, both in terms of watchmaking innovations and strategy? Our strategy will involve a production capacity of 5,200 watches and the expansion of our network of boutiques, with openings in Beijing, Boston, Vancouver, Mexico City, Kobe and Nagoya. Our London store will be expanded. Their decoration will also be renovated. In terms of products, we will launch about seven watches during the year, starting at the SIHH.
“We want to be involved everywhere and at all times.”
We have totally ruled out the idea of selling watches online. This is simply not appropriate for our average price. And you cannot reproduce online the emotion of the physical experience, the emotion of the relationship between the human being and the object that is at the heart of our philosophy. But the digital world is obviously a valuable tool for leading customers to our stores. Moreover, I can reveal some surprising statistics: more than 50% of the people who follow us on social networks are between 20 and 35 years old. A sensitive point in the industry is “time to market”. How do you manage it? Some time ago, it was possible to introduce a new product at the SIHH in January and not deliver anything until the end of the year. Today, customers demand speed, and we have adapted. For example, the model presented at the Geneva Motor Show last March, the RM 11-03 McLaren, was available immediately. The same went for the new women’s collection, the RM 7101 Talisman. The limited edition RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo McDonough presented at SIHH 2018, on the other hand, was not delivered until last summer. 26
In fact, we have been offering certified, revised and guaranteed pre-owned timepieces for two years now, at specific points of sale dedicated to pre-owned products. We are already offering this service in Japan and the United States, and we will gradually roll it out to Europe and Asia.
Mr Mille and Mr Guenat are gradually bringing other members of the management team into the spotlight, including yourself. Is this a sign of an ongoing succession? What are the company’s long-term management plans? First, we are committed to remaining independent. Additionally, our workshops in Les Breuleux are being extended and we are hiring staff. Finally, with regard to brand management, several of us are indeed taking on more and more responsibility. Mr Mille’s and Mr Guenat’s children are already well represented in the company. This is very important, as the “human” aspect of our company pleases our customers and reassures them. It is a fundamental value. Indeed, what are the advantages of independence, when we have seen more and more watch brands incorporated into the luxury giants? We are not under any shareholder pressure. We hold our destiny in our own hands. And I believe that this long-term control is all the more important in our price range and segment, which is unparalleled in the industry. We are all passionate about Richard Mille, both in the workshops and on the retail side.
b e i n g
s w i s s
inspired by the past. shaping the future.
More than Swiss Made. 100% Swiss Crafted.
Carlos-A. Rosillo, co-founder and CEO of Bell & Ross
BR 03-94 Horolum
BR 03-92 Horoblack 28
T H LL D E &R IS A O R U R SS PT T O IO F N
BE S BY
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The proudly independent Franco-Swiss brand has brought the aeroplane cockpit to the wrist. It has followed a very precise trajectory. A pioneer in the XXL format, extreme readability, new materials, new designs such as the Skull, and even e-commerce (as far back as ten years ago), it is one of the rare brands created in the 1990s that really took root in the watch world, with the support of a powerful mentor with an elegant philosophy, Chanel. We talked to brand co-founder Carlos-A. Rosillo.
ell & Ross is a duality. Not just the name, which is linked to its founding duo, childhood friends Bruno Belamich (artistic director and co-founder) and Carlos-A. Rosillo (CEO and co-founder). Virtually everything about this Franco-Swiss brand seems to come in twos. This duality takes several forms, such as its original round watches and the later square watches that have been welcomed into the collective imagination; breaking with shapes and materials while seeking to take root in the old Swiss watchmaking tradition; managing both the high expectations of the original military clientele and the aesthetic requirements of civilians; even its Instagram account, which plays around with short time and long time.
The brand was founded in 1992, and operates mainly in the CHF 2,000 to 10,000 segment. It breathed new life into French watchmaking at a time when its last remaining pillars were crumbling. The company likes to swim against the tide. It started out doing vintage in the 1990s, when watchmaking was trying to throw off the shackles of the past... and today it’s betting on futuristic disruption, notably via new materials, when the rest of the industry seems to have been teleported back to the 1960s! But why choose, when you can have both? “Today, we are working in parallel on extending our Vintage line and experimenting with our BR-X1 line,” explains Carlos-A. Rosillo. “We stand between the temptation of vintage and that of exploding all the codes... The paradox, no doubt, is that we’re trying to express our creativity in subtle but also disruptive ways. It’s just the dosage that varies!” The ampersand that unites Bell & Ross is “the symbol of combined skills,” as Carlos-A. Rosillo explains. While the brain and the heart of the brand are in Paris, its arms and legs are in Switzerland, at the G&F Châtelain watch manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, owned by Chanel, where high-added-value collections are produced (notably the “experimental” BR-X1 and BR-X2 lines with in-house movement). Bell & Ross also calls upon local assemblers for watches equipped with ETA or Sellita calibres. Carlos-A. Rosillo and Bruno Belamich were supported in their early days by German brand Sinn, the custodian of a long tradition of aviation watches. Helmut Sinn, who died last year at the enviable age of 101, personally took them under his wing. Today they continue to call upon outside skills, be it Vincent Calabrese for jumping hours or Pierre Favre at MHC. And, unlike many others, they have no interest in hiding it. Bell & Ross, which still supplies the elite RAID and GIGN divisions of the French military, is structured around four solid design principles: legibility, reliability, functionality and precision. It is one of the watch brands that have contributed to the modernity boom that has transformed the watch industry over the past twenty years. And it remains today a fine example of what an independent watchmaker can be, although we can well imagine that, in these times of consolidation and takeovers, some tempting offers must have landed on Carlos-A. Rosillo’s desk.
RUPTURE Europa Star: Whether it’s true disruption or simply a return to the past, today we see vintage inspiration and reissues almost everywhere in watchmaking. You even have a collection called Vintage, which includes the BR V2-94 Racing Bird Chronograph released last year. And yet, you are a relatively new brand. What’s your approach to this phenomenon? Carlos-A. Rosillo: We started to take an interest in vintage 25 years ago, at a time when it was not necessarily well received. It was a period of colour. We specialised in round military watches with white numerals on black dials. Some very well-established brands no longer had any models of this type! Vintage, in the form of black dials in particular, was not popular. What was most interesting to us was the readability, with the positive-negative contrast. But when we started out there wasn’t a fashion for vintage or military watches, like there is today.
to spread these innovations over different collections, although the issue of cost does come into play. Our sapphire watches start at 69,000 francs, which is quite affordable compared to other models on the market. And I believe that this is the first time a watch brand has produced a watch without a case, since the two sapphire plates are placed directly over the movement of the BR-X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor! You have also played a major role in the oversizing of watches over the past two decades, shocking the industry at first with your XXL watches. The trend now seems rather to be in favour of downsizing. But it’s hard to imagine a “mini” Bell & Ross!
How did the idea for the square watch come about? We initiated something with our models... and were in fact quickly overwhelmed by the trend that it generated. How do you stay distinctive enough? After producing only round watches, we introduced square models in 2005. Our inspiration was aeroplane cockpits, which systematically feature “circles on squares”. In very concrete terms, we put this cockpit on the wrist. Today we offer pocket watches, round watches and square watches.
“The Laughing Skull asks an existential question: should we laugh or cry in the face of death?”
At the same time, you are also a pioneer in the use of new materials in watchmaking, through the BRX1 experimental line. Indeed, we have always practised the art of disruption and innovation, while trying to respect the most traditional aspects of watchmaking, based on four principles: readability, reliability, functionality and precision. We have introduced forged carbon and reinforced titanium, among other materials. We also try 30
The trend is certainly no longer towards gigantism, but sports watches still need to keep a certain size. We are necessarily rather large, because we are miniaturising something voluminous to start with. Moreover, a certain size is in keeping with our principles of legibility and precision. But very few of our watches are “oversized”: today we go from 39 mm to 46 mm in diameter. Rather, we have worked on reducing the thickness of our watches. Thus, the BR-X2 Tourbillon MicroRotor model has an extra-flat automatic flying tourbillon movement that is only 4.05 mm thick... and it is a square movement.
Another trend that remains strong despite the passing years is the skull. There’s been a lot of talk about your Laughing Skull. Who is this type of product for? We launched a Skull in 2009, when we were in the middle of a watchmaking crisis. It leaves a mark on people’s minds. The symbol of the skull is particularly potent for the military; it’s a talisman that represents the courage to face death. At first, it was a bit of a scandal! We launched last year the Laughing Skull, which is very special with its spectacular movement, visible through the case back. It is also the first time that we have released an automaton. This timepiece asks an existential question: should we laugh or cry about death?
BUSINESS Where are Bell & Ross’s main markets, and how many retailers do you have today? We have 750 sales outlets in over 80 countries. Europe is one of our most developed regions. Two years ago, we took over distribution in Asia internally, and we already have a subsidiary in North America. Today, our most buoyant markets are the United States, France and Southeast Asia. Which are the markets where you feel Bell & Ross’s potential is still underdeveloped?
“Our own shops aim to please the market... and above all they are profitable, it’s not just about marketing or ego!”
China, most certainly. We have “sown the seeds”, but not overinvested. The Chinese market boom has begun with more classic watchmaking proposals, but our turn will soon come. Many brands have opened their own stores in the last decade. Some retailers may have felt overwhelmed... You have 13 shops in the world. What is your strategy in this regard?
We have been restrained in opening our own stores, which are intended primarily for the brand’s pure aficionados. We have never competed with our own representatives. Our own shops aim to satisfy the market... and above all they are profitable, it’s not just about marketing or ego! BR V2-94 Steel Heritage
How do you see the internet for your brand: as a communication tool or a sales tool... or both?
Where does your relationship with Chanel stand today, both in terms of production and participation?
I believe we were the first luxury watch brand to launch an e-shop 10 years ago. We considered at the time that digital was going to be a major factor, and we could not leave that segment to third parties. We have published the prices of our watches online for a long time. We have also established partnerships with serious companies including Mr. Porter and Farfetch. It is the best strategy in the face of the effervescence of the web. Today, digital is a source of growth. We have more than 2 million visitors per year, with an average of 6 to 7 minutes spent on our site, and sales are beginning to be consistent. We also include retailers in the process.
Chanel holds a minority stake in Bell & Ross and brings a wealth of expertise. For example, they are very strong in the legal field. Chanel’s approach to us is “collaboration without obligation”. What I find remarkable is that they really have a long-term vision of luxury. They are giants with an artisanal core, avoiding the standardisation or the dilution of the brand. Theirs is a good example to follow.
HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph
Matthias Breschan, CEO of Rado
True Thinline Nature Collection 32
A DO BR FU IT A T S N U PA D RI ST E X ST PL I C O RE S
ILL AR D
Since his arrival in 2011, Matthias Breschan, who manages this Swatch Group brand, has focused on new formats and materials and mechanical calibres to increase the company’s clout in Asia. Now, he intends to restore the lustre of Rado’s rich heritage. Last year, Rado introduced new colours to the ceramic-cased watch that is the company’s specialty. Called True Thinline Nature, this series, produced in partnership with the Grandi Giardini Italiani association, reflects the rich colours of the most beautiful transalpine gardens, evoking the earth, water and vegetation. The base powders from which the ceramic is made influence the final colour of the material. They are heated at a very precise temperature in a process called “sintering”. Another recent innovation has been the introduction in 2016 of silicon nitride in the HyperChrome Ultra Light model (56 grams), which differs from the zirco-
nium oxide powder used for regular high-tech ceramics. This new ingredient, which is processed at around 1,700 degrees Celsius, comes from heavy industry, where it is already used in car brakes and other hightemperature applications. Its main characteristic is its lightness, a quality to which everything on the watch contributes, from the silicon nitride case and the ceramic dial to the aluminium bridges and plate. These innovations, carried out in collaboration with the Swatch Group’s own centre of excellence in ceramic processing, the Comadur company based in Le Locle, clearly define the profile of Rado, a brand that has made materials research a genuine leitmotiv. But the company founded in 1917 also has a rich heritage whose valuation has lagged behind other Swatch Group heavyweights such as Omega or Longines, as CEO Matthias Breschan acknowledges. The objective is now to systematically exploit Rado’s archives and heritage. Europa Star: Rado recently celebrated its centenary. Is this an opportunity to study your assets in depth? Matthias Breschan: Rado has always been the Swatch Group’s “futuristic” brand, with a host of innovations such as the pioneering introduction of the sapphire crystal and the use of ceramics since the 1980s, which earned us our title “Master of Materials”. But we are in the process of compiling a wealth of information on the history of the brand. Within two years, we should be making very interesting use of our archives.
You are already introducing some relaunches.... We have indeed reissued the Tradition 1965 watch, inspired by the Manhattan skyline, which takes up the tradition of shaped watches such as the Ceramica. We have launched 1,965 watches driven by an ETA C07 movement. We have also introduced another reissue, dating back to 1962: the HyperChrome Captain Cook, a stainless steel model with a rotating bezel that expresses a very sixties aesthetic. What are your main markets today?
Rado Quiz. Other major markets are still to be explored. In India, for example, we have historically been pioneers, and today we remain leaders in watch sales. As early as the 1960s, Rado bypassed the problem of high import taxes through the creation of local service centres. Will the current vogue for vintage see a return to grace for the shaped watches that were so characteristic of Rado, given that the last two decades have been dominated by more classic round watches?
I believe so. Despite the passage of time, “In China, we were They are located in Asia, with China the Rado Original has remained one in the lead. Switzerland is also a very penalised by two of our best-selling collections since elements: not enough important market. The touch I have the 1970s. The way we look at watches brought to Rado since I arrived in mechanical movements has changed in recent years, with a 2011 has been to introduce more strong public interest in the past: beand the predominance mainstream models, via round foring part of a form of heritage is reasmats and automatics, in order to ex- of square formats, suring for our customers. Everywhere pand our customer base, especially because the old we see a return to simpler values, to in Asia. In China, we were penalised ceramic processing nature, to sustainability. Today, Rado by two factors. On the one hand, by can work on the strong designs of its techniques offered concentrating on the decoration of history, while continuing to introquartz models, we had neglected the little flexibility.” duce innovative materials. For us, this fact that men buy mechanical watchis the right formula. es first and foremost. On the other hand, the old ceramic processing techniques offered little flexibility, hence the predominance of square formats, which Speaking of innovations, what are the most interare less conventional and characteristic of a certain esting areas of exploration at the moment? generation. All this has changed. The DiaMaster Ceramos is one of the most important watches of the moment, with its monobloc case made Will this strategy ultimately aim to exceed one billion out of Ceramos™, a material made of 90% ceramic and francs in turnover, as is already the case for Omega, 10% 10% metal alloy. What is new is that we are now able Longines and Tissot within the Swatch Group? to carry out monobloc injections. Monobloc ceramic constructions are already used in the automotive and This is clearly an objective. China still has enormous aerospace industries. This opens up the possibility of potential. Research into our heritage will also con- designing round, light and ultra-flat watches. Ceramic tribute to our development. For example, we found has become a “noble” material, acclaimed by high-end a Rado advertisement in an official newspaper of the watchmaking. Today, we are charting our own path, People’s Republic from the late 1970s. At that time which is defined by the introduction of new materiRado also had a spot on Chinese television called als, combined with a certain elegance.
DiaMaster High Line
DiaMaster Petite Seconde COSC
True Thinline Bronze
Geoffroy Lefebvre, CEO of Baume & Mercier
The Clifton Baumatic collection
M TR E EM IP & M O D E RC RY OW IE LA N R N E
BA A UM S BY
ILL AR D
The Richemont Group’s accessible brand has a new director, Geoffroy Lefebvre. And all you have to do is look at his private Instagram account to understand that the glorious past of Baume & Mercier will soon be back in the spotlight, in this period of “vintagemania”. Last year, Baume & Mercier impressed many observers with the new Clifton Baumatic line. Its elegant porcelain dial was as striking to the eye as what was in the case, the first “homemade” mechanical movement. This BM12-1975A calibre with silicon escapement was developed with the support of ValFleurier, which is increasingly becoming the “manufacture” of the entire group, after having participated in the birth of the calibre of the Fiftysix by Vacheron Constantin. In fact, it represents a departure in the history of Baume & Mercier. As new boss Geoffroy Lefebvre, an engineering graduate and history buff, explains, it had “never been a calibre manufacturer, but was always among the best in the industry where the decoration
part was concerned.” But this departure has a meaning, that of offering a top-of-the-range model for the brand, starting at CHF 2,650, without abandoning its more affordable proposals driven by calibres from ETA or Sellita. Quite simply, a new playground is opening up for Baume & Mercier. Behind the mechanics, there is also the will to go back to history. Paradoxically, this house, founded in 1830, has maintained a relatively low profile in the vintage segment. Unlike competitor Longines, for instance, which, in addition to its successful classic models, has achieved good results over the past two years with relaunches. Here too, the playground is vast and promises surprises. We met Geoffroy Lefebvre. Europa Star: At Richemont, you managed the manufacturing division and then went through two Haute Horlogerie houses, Vacheron Constantin and JaegerLeCoultre. Your arrival at Baume & Mercier also coincides with loftier manufacturing ambitions, via the first in-house calibre... Is this just a coincidence? Geoffroy Lefebvre: Yes, because we are absolutely not going to leave our core range, which lies from 1,000 to 4,500 francs. The whole meaning of Baumatic is precisely to offer the best possible quality, a high value for a moderate price. And to do this, we needed a movement made specifically for us. It allows to gain in performance and precision, and it opens up wonderful prospects for small complications. This is the new pillar of our inhouse automatic offer, a platform for the future.
This development would probably not have been possible without ValFleurier, which seems to be gaining in power within the group. It is clear that ten years ago, we would not have had the resources to make an in-house movement. I know ValFleurier very well because I supervised the unit when I was in charge of the group’s manufacturing division. With their support, our brand has succeeded in producing a particularly innovative calibre, which ensures a power reserve of five days and an accuracy of around -4 to +6 seconds per day. The watch requires servicing only every five to seven years, as its mechanism is equipped with new oils that are particularly effective against friction. But the most extraordinary innovation is the silicon composite escapement, with optimised geometry, which in- “Too little has been creases the autonomy by 30% and of- said about the history fers good resistance to magnetism. Do you also plan to equip other collections with this in-house calibre?
of Baume & Mercier itself. The first thing I did when I arrived was to lock myself up with 200 heritage pieces in Les Brenets. It was the best way for me to “enter” the brand...”
For the time being, no, because we also want to keep our more affordable proposals, such as the Classima, which starts at 990 francs in quartz, or the Clifton Club, from 1,900 francs when equipped with a standard automatic movement. Thus, our product pyramid is becoming clearer: today the brand needs coherence, and its core lies with the Classima and the Baumatic.
There is no escape from the phenomenon of vintage re-editions in the industry. But Baume & Mercier has chosen to establish partnerships with road speed pioneers such as the Shelby Cobra and Indian Motorcycle. Will you continue in this vein? We have already exploited these partnerships comprehensively, and we don’t have any new projects in the pipeline currently. I think too little has been said about the history of Baume & Mercier itself. This heritage may be more obvious in other Houses, but Baume & Mercier has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The first thing I did when I arrived was to lock myself up with 200 heritage pieces in Les Brenets! It was the best way for me to “enter” the brand.... 38
Complete calendar chronograph watch, 1950. Historical piece from Baume & Mercier Museum
What did you discover?
We see watches with incredible design very early on, such as the Complete Chronographs of the 1950s, the Shogun or the Riviera. Baume & Mercier has never been a calibre manufacturer, but it has always been among those who have best “dressed” the movements. Its history is first and foremost that of the meeting between a Jura technician, William Baume, and a Geneva dandy, Paul Mercier, who very early on understood the importance of design in wristwatches. Today, I almost exclusively post vintage Baume & Mercier models on my Instagram account. Bringing this heritage back to the forefront is clearly part of the strategy. Is a stronger presence in China, where Baume & Mercier seems to lack exposure in comparison to some of its major competitors, also part of this strategy? It is true that our traditional markets are in Europe and North America. But we have not confined ourselves to those: we have always been an international brand. In this sense, China is clearly a strategic market. And with 1,500 points of sale worldwide, Baume & Mercier is committed to continuing to work hand in hand with its partners to serve its end customers.
AIRMASTER # 93808 SRG-618
Niels Eggerding, Managing Director of FrĂŠdĂŠrique Constant
“B É D C R ÉR C O N I D IQ O N G UE M E IN C PL C G ON ST IC TI A AT ON N T IO A N ND ”
Europa Star: You have just celebrated your 30th birthday. Would it be possible to start the same adventure today? There are many watch startups on Kickstarter but these often prove to be one-hit wonders, once they’ve raised their funds....
ILL AR D
Frédérique Constant has passed the 30 year mark. With characteristic discretion and a style that is anything but exuberant, the brand recently acquired by the Citizen group has paradoxically broken down many barriers in the industry, whether through affordable complications or connected mechanical watches. We interviewed its new Managing Director, Niels Eggerding.
Niels Eggerding: Let’s not kid ourselves: it would be much more difficult. The competition is fierce. We now have 3,000 points of sale. It would be impossible to create this network today. One of our greatest assets today is clearly our network of partners. We have maintained mutual trust at a time when many brands were opening their own stores. This strategy will not change following Citizen’s acquisition. How do you coordinate your operations with the group? We operate according to a simple principle: we share nothing in terms of production and everything in terms of distribution and sales. Citizen is not directly involved in the functioning of the brand. On the other hand, they have a huge presence in the United States, a market that is still largely unknown to us. Where we are weak, they are strong. The group provides us with financial and commercial support. Without them, it would be difficult to grow in the current market conditions.
Frédérique Constant Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar 41
Will you also collaborate with your retailers when it comes to online sales? Yes, we will also evolve towards e-commerce in partnership with our retailers. In some countries, such as France, we already have a system that includes retailers in the circuit: the customer can choose to receive the watch at home or pick it up at a retailer. The condition for being approved is that sales are made at full price. However, in the case of Alpina, you sold connected watches directly via Kickstarter.
Constant sells a total of 160,000 watches annually. In addition to the connected watches, we have entered the world of high-end mechanical complications with a perpetual calendar in 2016 and a flyback chronograph in 2017. In 2018, we introduced a tourbillon with a perpetual calendar, as well as a connected watch with a manufacture mechanical movement. The bridges between all these universes are multiplying. On the production front, what will your new factory in Plan-les-Ouates bring you? We have room to grow. Production at the new site will start in June 2019. This project rewards Peter and Aletta Stas’ continuous efforts: without making a great deal of noise, they have patiently built a solid company that has earned its watchmaking credentials. The manufacture movement surprised many, as did the connected watches. Today, we have 75 watchmakers on site, working on basic Sellita movements, modified Sellita movements and now in-house calibres, which represent 20% of our production.
“Since 2015, we have produced 120,000 connected watches. Without this new niche, we would not have been able to grow.”
Operation AlpinerX on Kickstarter was a success. Above all, beyond the sales of around 3,000 watches for a total of 1.5 million francs, it was about data mining: we were able to collect direct feedback from more than 5,000 customers. This is very valuable, as we learned a lot about the profile and expectations of our end customers. However, this operation will not be repeated: it was destined to be a one-shot operation. What is the share of the connected watch in your total production? Since 2015, we have produced 120,000 connected watches. Without this new niche, we would not have been able to grow. And it is also a powerful communication tool. We continue to work simultaneously on smartwatches, quartz and mechanical timepieces. Frédérique
You offer a very classic style of watchmaking, with rather timeless codes. At the same time, there is great interest in the market for models with a very strong personality, often reissues from the 1960s and 1970s. Heritage is an important subject: without wishing to give too much away, I can already tell you that I am working on our heritage for the preparation of a future new collection. For any watch brand, it is much easier to work on past successes that have already proved their worth. But we are still relatively young compared with the industry as a whole. Some of your direct competitors, such as Raymond Weil and Maurice Lacroix, have decided to miss the Basel fair in March. What about you? We need Baselworld, it’s an annual industry meeting and a ritual that is very important to us.
*Carlo Giordanetti is also creative director for Swatch. See the brandâ€™s recent and surprising collaboration with Damien Hirst for Mickey Mouseâ€™s 90th anniversary, in our Gallery section on p. 52.
Carlo Giordanetti, President of Calvin Klein watches + jewelry
Calvin Klein rebel Calvin Klein achieve
Calvin Klein minimal extension 44
TH LV O E IN B R F “ KL A WA GO EIN N T D D C M S H O FA T S HH E R IO ” N
world. This sensitivity is reinforced by the fact that we are one of the few real Swiss made brands with a “fashion” touch. This time, we decided to invest as much energy into our men’s watch collection as we did for women.
Another strong evolution we have seen is in terms of your style. The new timepieces are less minimalistic than previous collections. You have even introduced some vintage features.
N LO GE T
We sat down with Carlo Giordanetti*, president of the Swatch Group’s joint venture, a long-time actor in the volatile fashion watch market, filled today with emerging Kickstarter players. We talked new collections, gender, Americana and e-commerce. Europa Star: You seem to have put a particular emphasis on men’s watches in your latest collection. Was that what you had in mind when you equipped the Swing timepiece with an automatic ETA 2841-1 movement? Carlo Giordanetti: As a brand, we have always had a very successful business in the ladies segment – essentially because we are known as Calvin Klein watches + jewelry, which naturally leads you to a more feminine
The brand is indeed taking an evolutionary step away from this very minimalist language; we are now becoming a little bit more architectural. We are not abandoning minimalism but we are speaking about more interesting volumes and textures, so it’s a truly modernist approach. And we are reinterpreting the vintage trend in a very unique way. Historically, however, your watches have been labelled as “unisex”. Is this a new departure from your beginnings in 1997? I actually don’t believe in the concept of “unisex” watches! Maybe that was our label in the past. But today our focus is on strong and powerful styles. They can appeal to both men and women, but we don’t draw our sketches thinking of a “unisex” style. We work on different declinations in a variety of sizes. Interestingly, smaller diameters are very popular among men now!
We also try to attract new generations with a message of simplicity that resonates with them. Many are looking for a purer kind of watch, which often means a smaller diameter, fewer functions and a focus on style. What are your key markets today? China is undoubtedly our number one market. We are quite successful in south-east Asia. South Korea is an interesting growing market today; it is a bellwether for the fashion world in Asia. We are also seeing strong sales in Europe, especially in Switzerland, France and Spain. Basically, all markets that are highly attuned to fashion are easier for us. Calvin Klein swing
Still, the roots of the brand are American. What’s happening in the US market? Indeed, our communication is focused on American lifestyle and icons. Our images often represent a certain view of Americana, with extended families and friends, and a sense of community. However, the US market is not as strong as it could be for our timepieces and jewellery. We are obviously hoping for significant growth there, and we are confident that will happen when we launch our e-commerce platform in the USA in the second half of 2019. Where do you stand now in terms of online sales? It’s already a success story in Europe, especially for jewellery. We are just starting now in Asia with a few partners. America will come next. We still strongly believe in the sensual experience of touching and feeling products. I don’t think e-commerce can replace this experience. A physical presence is the pivot of our strategy. The fashion watch segment is highly competitive, and newcomers are arriving every week through channels like Kickstarter. How do you defend your territory in such conditions? The competition is really fierce, but I agree with Mr Hayek when he says that competition is actually good, and that it’s a disaster when there is none. In this sense, 46
you could say we are in a rather healthy segment! In the face of such strong competition, a key asset is our commitment to quality and the Swiss made label. We are proud flag-bearers! This is the core reason for Calvin Klein’s presence within the Swatch Group’s portfolio. Customers respect that. What is your personal assessment of the state of the fashion watch industry? Fashion is by nature a changing and volatile market. A few years ago, the trend was more in the direction of “natural” motifs, such as flowers and animals, and everyone was following it. Today I see more self-affirmation by the fashion brands. It’s all about “authentic stories”. As a result, some opportunistic actors who simply followed the trend are disappearing. In the fashion world, the most difficult thing is longevity! The most authentic brands are now growing in a very healthy way. What is your biggest challenge today? I actually think there are two big challenges. The first is linked to our name, Calvin Klein watches + jewelry: I would like to grow our jewellery side, because this business has a very high potential. And the second challenge is to embrace the new “virtual” languages, without losing the sensuality that is part of our DNA… in the real world!
STAINLESS STEEL HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PRECISE MTG-B1000
For more information about the MT-G collection: g-shock.eu
“B E H R L FR AV AN BA TO O E D CS S S M AC R HI C EJ F T EP EC ED TA T N ION C E”
ILL AR D Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant at Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo
Highlights of the “Styled” watch auction that took place in New York last December
The most famous watch auctioneer in the world explores the radical change in the attitude of most brands when it comes to the secondary market, which is booming while sales of new watches are stagnating. If brands are rushing to enhance the value of their historical assets, it is because they now have a clear understanding of where their economic interests lie.
nyone who attended the last watch sale of 2018 organised by Phillips, “Styled”, in New York, would have understood immediately the extent to which the secondary market has become the real meeting place for watch aficionados. One could sense the enthusiasm and almost physical thrill that are too often lacking during the larger, more formal events organised by brands. It is here that the living, beating, public heart of watchmaking is at its best. Paradoxically, then, an industry that is trying to look to the future needs to turn to the past to find the freshest, most dynamic and modern image of itself. After all, watchmaking is a matter of time... And time is the ruthless master that will judge the few models that will go down in history, those that will fall under the hammer of Aurel Bacs, setting them apart from the ephemeral existence of most timepieces. Things have come a long way indeed since the first major thematic auctions organised by Osvaldo Patrizzi in the 1990s. A Phillips sale has become the most visible and prestigious face of a revolution, that of the second-hand watch. Here, collectors’ models often increase their initial value tenfold, while far away, in the darker corners of the internet, watches change hands for a tenth of their marked price. These are different planets of the same bubbling universe, one we are looking at with increasing interest.
Aurel Bacs shares with us some thoughts on the evolution and possible future of this universe. Europa Star: Alongside the launch of the Apple Watch and the fantasies it fosters, vintage watches are doing better than ever. Why? Aurel Bacs: I remember when the Apple Watch arrived, we thought it might be once again, as it was in the 1970s, a sign of a weakening of the mechanical watch. But there is one difference – and it is significant: the debate surrounding the “quartz crisis” was about performance. However, today I don’t know anyone who buys a vintage watch for its performance. People buy it because it is a work of art on the wrist. If I had to give you one word to help you understand watchmaking today, it would be “culture”. And by that, I mean intellectual, emotional and aesthetic stimulation. In the same way, we don’t drink a vintage wine just because we are thirsty, or choose a painting just to cover a white wall! So you’re saying that, paradoxically, the Apple Watch has actually enhanced the appeal of vintage watches? I’m grateful to Apple for the launch of their smartwatch, because it’s far easier to appreciate things when they’re set in contrast. We enjoy a cold drink when it’s hot and a hot drink when it’s cold. We have seen an extraordinary rejuvenation in our industry. The new generation wear cheap T-shirts and use disposable phones, and that’s why they’re looking for “content” - I hate the word storytelling, which is closer to fantasy in my eyes. A watch, like a sculpture, is a three-dimensional object. But a vintage mechanical watch also has a fourth dimension: the origin, the history, the uniqueness, the patina, the age...
How, in your opinion, have the brands’ attitudes evolved in terms of how they manage their heritage? I see a huge change. A few brands certainly do not need to change: the Stern family has been embracing its heritage with Patek Philippe for forty years. But most brands, until twenty years ago, considered vintage watches, auction houses and myself to be a disruption, even conflictual. Today we are working together, because we have all understood that a brand that is proud of its past can neither deny nor ignore its history. Many brands are making extraordinary efforts and significant investments to promote their past. So their attitude towards you has changed? Today, when we call a factory, we are very well received, unlike twenty years ago! The reaction is immediately: “Mr Bacs, how can we help you? The archives, pictures, an opinion, advice?” We also see more and more brands promoting their vintage collections on social networks. You can’t be proud of a Speedmaster, an Aquatimer or a Memovox and say simultaneously: don’t tell us about our past! I think we’re seeing in contemporary collections that this dialogue also appeals to brands. The trend is so strong that brands are starting to do your job for you! Whether it is Vacheron Constantin with its Hour Lounge programme, MB&F, F.P. Journe or Breitling, brands are now buying up vintage models, restoring them and selling them... Twenty years ago, they accused you of competing with them; is the competition reversing itself? No. On the contrary. All these initiatives are complementary, as they give confidence to the market. Imagine that thanks to the efforts of a manufacturer,
its vintage timepieces experience a 10% increase in value. And that one in ten vintage watches no longer comes to us, because they take care of it. With the nine pieces I have left, at 10% added value, I’m compensated for that tenth watch. Do brands use your services to recover their heritage? The brands consult us to find out more about the auction market, the community of vintage collectors and their reasoning. Brands have asked us the following question: “We have launched a new product that is waterproof to 100 metres, accurate, reliable, SuperLuminova, guaranteed for two years, priced at 10,000 francs, and a collector pays you 30,000 francs for the same model from the 1950s, which is no longer under warranty, which is smaller, perhaps a little damaged: explain it to us!” According to your estimates, what is the size of the global secondary watch market? We can talk in billions of francs. It’s impossible to find that number. In real estate, it is much easier because there is the land registry. For cars, we can base ourselves on changes to the registration documents. In watchmaking, we have nothing! Can we expect to see new auction records? And what room is there for outsiders, alongside the dominant duo of Rolex and Patek Philippe? I really don’t see any wristwatch on the horizon that could beat the record of 17 million francs established by the Rolex Paul Newman in 2017. Today, we know about 95% of the great Rolexes, about 95% of the great Patek Philippes. I’m not saying that we have reached saturation, but when an average Daytona auctions at over 100,000 francs, I understand that there are collectors who can no longer afford to follow the market, or maybe their wives are starting to put pressure on them! This is one reason why we are seeing the emergence of vintage models from Zenith, Heuer, Omega, IWC, Tissot, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Longines. With this phenomenon, in the end, the polarisation of sales will decrease, in my opinion.
Absolute Toughness world.g-shock.com
SWATCH SPOT MICKEY BY DAMIEN HIRST Out of stock The famous, virtuoso British artist Damien Hirst pays a brilliant tribute to Mickey Mouse, born on 18 November 1928. With a few coloured spots, he has reproduced an instantly recognisable figure. And at the same time given a huge boost to Swatch. This 30-something year-old watch is in fine fettle. These two limited editions, one of 1,999 pieces and the other 19,999, were both sold out in a matter of hours. CHF120.
The average price of the award-winning watches at the Grand Prix de lâ€™Horlogerie de GenĂ¨ve (GPHG) is CHF260,000. True, this astronomical sum is greatly boosted by a handful of watches costing up to a million Swiss francs or even more. But even so! While that represents the absolute top shelf in watchmaking, it is not, by a long chalk, representative of the watchmaking sector as a whole. Alongside these exceptional, ultra-publicised pieces reserved for the famous 0,1% of Earthlings, there exists a much more accessible type of watch, often fun and inventive, and affordable by a larger number of people. A democratic watch. Let us not lose sight of the wood, with its multitude of different species, for the top-end-of-the-market trees. This vast horological forest is a reservoir of biodiversity without which the watch industry would wilt and ultimately share the same unenviable fate as music boxes: an art which is magnificent in itself, but totally outdated. The trees and the wood need one another in order to flourish. The average price of the watches presented here is around CHF1,500. A democratic price, we could say. But let us still not forget that what some judge affordable is still inaccessible to many. If the watchmaking industry as a whole is to live, the democratic watch sector must thrive. (PM)
CARTOONS SHINOLA MICKEY CLASSICS COLLECTION Mickey Mouse is certainly inspiring watchmakers these days. As a tribute to the famous mouse, Detroit-based Shinola is offering five limited editions (of 90 pieces each) and a special edition of its best-selling Runwell models. The five limited editions, designed by artist Jeff Shelly, are directly inspired by some of Walt Disneyâ€™s best-known cartoons and come with an original, framed drawing. These collectors' items are retailing at US$2,000. As for the special edition, it is on sale for the price of US$800. Quartz movement in partnership with Ronda. 54
TIMEX MARLIN SNOOPY AUTOMATIC Snoopy, the philosophical canine dreamer created by Charles M. Schulz, seems to be waiting for time to pass on this silvery dial by Timex. Inspired by the 1960s Marlin model and fitted with an automatic movement of the same name, this mechanical watch with its transparent case back is on sale for the record price of US$249.
GUCCI DIVE The head of a cat – an animal renowned for not being overfond of water – is a curious choice to place at the centre of a diving watch when you think about it. But perhaps that is just one more sign of the overtly disruptive style of the brand, which remains as affordable as ever. 40 or 45mm diameter steel or yellow gold PVD-coated case, rubber strap, ETA quartz movement, waterproof to 200m. CHF 1,350.
RALPH LAUREN POLO BEAR Ralph Lauren has a predilection for bears, and you’ll find his embroidered Polo Bears printed or sewn onto ties or pullovers and goodness knows what. Now the plantigrade is moving into watches, with Flag Bear, Martini Bear, Preppy Bear and Spectator Bear. “Each one is inspired by outfits that Ralph Lauren himself wears,” we are told. With their 42mm steel case, automatic mechanical movement and careful finish, these Polo Bear watches retail from US$1,950.
TISSOT ALPINE ON BOARD Quartz-powered or mechanical, the Alpine On Board is a dualuse watch: you can wear it on your wrist or place it on the dashboard of your Alpine car in a special holder attached to the car’s multimedia screen. A niche product? Certainly, but also one way of showing that watchmaking has its own ways of combining instruments and design. The automatic chronograph model is equipped with a beautiful Valjoux movement and sports a vintage, but not nostalgic, look. The three-hand quartz model is more contemporary in style and is very legible once inserted into the dashboard support. Automatic €1,950 – Quartz from €460.
ORIS BIG CROWN POINTER DATE For its 80th anniversary, the pilot’s watch from Oris – the origins of which date back to 1938 (a historic date) – is made in bronze and ornamented by a deep green dial with a bubbledomed crystal to beautiful effect. With its large crown and date-pointer hand with the inverted red crescent, it seems to have aged not one whit. Waterproof to 50 metres, moderately dimensioned – 40 mm – it is equipped with the excellent automatic Oris 754 movement and retails at a price of CHF1,900. A bargain price for an icon. ANONIMO MILITARE CHRONO VINTAGE Whether in its “Panda” version – eggshell-coloured dial and two black-rimmed subdials – or “Newman” – colouring reversed – the Militare chronometer from Anonimo has conserved one of its trademark features: the crown at 12 o'clock. Both robust and pared-down, with its 12/04/08 dial and its interior railtrack minute scale, this model comes with an automatic movement and a chronograph module specifically developed by the renowned Dubois Dépraz. Sporting an imposing 43.4mm cushion case and mounted on an aged calf-leather strap, the Militare sells at CHF3,890.
MIDO OCEAN STAR DIVER 600 Perfectly designed, water-resistant to 600m, with a helium valve and powered by the COSC-certified 80SI chronograph calibre with a silicon balance spring, and offering 80 hours of autonomy; further equipped with a crown mounted on a ceramic bezel and engraved with Super-Luminova-filled indices, this highly legible diving watch has all the professional characteristics required to offer a quality/price/performance ratio that probably only an industrial group like the Swatch Group can provide: CHF1,590.
CALVIN KLEIN ACHIEVE A contemporary reinterpretation of chronographs from the now vintage 1970s, the Achieve, acclaimed by the brand as "charismatic", is robust, thick and generously dimensioned: the steel case measures 43 x 49.75mm. This quartz chronograph, waterresistant to 50m, has plenty of character and comes with a two-year guarantee. Retailing at the record price of CHF339.
ETERNA KONTIKI BRONZE In bronze, with a unidirectional rotating bezel and, this year, a very beautiful grained and textured green dial, the 44mm Kon Tiki comes in limited edition of 300. Water-resistant to 200m, this diving watch has a manually wound in-house mechanical movement with a power reserve of 65 hours. A very beautiful timepiece priced at CHF3,100.
ZRC NORTH ADVENTURE “My equipment is a matter of life and death, and this watch is an essential part of that. For me, it's a practical tool. I can use it as a compass when the sun is out, a calendar whenever I want and a light when I go diving,” says ice diver and adventurer Alban Michon. Inspired by ZRC’s Grands Fonds model launched at the start of the sixties, this special version was designed in collaboration with the explorer. It's modest in size, at 40.5mm, but has oversized hands and a large Superluminova regulator. The famous crown at 6 o'clock still appears in this model, and the ETA 2824 movement has been reworked to ensure that it’s still reliable at negative temperatures. The watch also has a uni-directional notched bezel, a reverse winding mechanism and an automatically adjustable “diver” strap. The watch is reviving the great tradition of tool watches. It’s also totally affordable at €2,790. 59
APPLE WATCH HERMES DOUBLE TOUR SERIES 4 Adorning the new Apple Watch Hermès Series 4 are leather, tricolour straps in an unprecedented array of colours made possible by the Hermès artisans' mastery of the art of trimming and reverse stitching. The new, bi-colour dial dreamed up by Apple and Hermès, which matches the colour of the strap, also lends colour to time: as the minute hand turns, so do the colours on the dial. It’s the colours that show the time. Available by order on hermes.com and apple.com, and in a selection of Apple stores and Hermès stores in Germany, Australia, Canada, China, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, the United States, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Singapore and Switzerland. CHF1,445.
TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR TAG Heuer is continually adding models to its Modular collection of smartwatches that let you customise the strap, lugs and case and even add a module with an automatic movement. The latest models include a removable 45mm module in sandblasted grade 5 titanium coated in black titanium carbide, with a black matte-finish ceramic ring on the bezel and a microphone at 3 o'clock; the module is mounted on a matte black ceramic strap. Compatible with Android and iPhone. CHF3,250. Another model, 41mm this time, with a grade 5 titanium case coated in black PVD, a fixed bevel and black ceramic lugs, with a black matte-finish mesh ceramic strap with H-shaped links is priced at CHF2,950.
ALPINA ALPINER X Equipped with five sensors, the AlpinerX offers a whole series of functions divided into three categories: Environment, Body, Time & Notifications. The first includes nature-related tools, such as an altimeter, barometer, compass, UV-index indicator (a watchmaking first), thermometer and GPS receiver connected to the app. The second group of functions measures activity and sleep, for example, offering dynamic coaching on the basis of the data as well as smart alarms. Lastly, the Time & Notifications segment guarantees innumerable time-recording options, notifications, a world time function and the possibility of saving data to the cloud. The fibreglass case with a stainless steel back measures 45mm in diameter; the dial is a classic analogue design encircled by a 360° turning compass bezel. While indicating the hours and minutes, the hands (which are also luminous) sweep to the upper part of the screen if necessary to reveal the information displayed on the digital screen when activated. Shock-resistant and water-resistant to 100 metres. Available for iOS and Android, starting at CHF895.
IKEPOD Created in 1994 by Olivier Ike and Marc Newson, Ikepod was a stylistic trendsetter, notably with its characteristic Hemipode models. This innovative brand went through tough times, repositioned itself at the high end of the market, then from 2012, when Marc Newson moved on, entered a phase of suspended animation. After changing hands in 2017, the brand is back. The cases, crowns and pushbuttons have remained visually identical, but the dials have been entrusted to Emmanuel Gueit, a designer known primarily for his work on the Royal Oak Offshore from Audemars Piguet. Relaunched via Kickstarter, these watches have remained true to their innovative spirit, but at a much more affordable price: from â‚Ź500. Shipping from May 2019.
JUNGHANS MEISTER TELEMETER In 1951, Junghans united telemeter and tachymeter features in a chronograph for the first time. The central second hand made it possible to measure both average speed and distance. More than 67 years later, Junghans is presenting a re-edition of this sophisticated-looking watch. Highly legible, it looks not the slightest bit dated. 1830 self-winding movement with a smallseconds dial, 40.8mm steel case with a screwed glass case back, convex Plexiglas with scratch-resistant coating. Waterresistant to 30m. CHF1,990.
NOMOS ACE X NOMOS CLUB CAMPUS AMSTERDAM LIMITED EDITION In collaboration with Ace Jewelers in Amsterdam, Nomos presents a very beautiful limited edition of its Club Campus Nacht, a 38.5mm steel mechanical watch equipped with the manually wound Alpha in-house movement. In the Amsterdam version mounted on a grey velvet strap, the anthracite dial is highlighted by red indices picked out by a thin white line, and a red seconds hand. This is a nod to the Amsterdam flag, and the overall effect is highly aesthetic. Retailing at €1,400 including tax.
KLOKERS KLOK-01 Recently crowned with the 2019 German Design Award, the KLOK-01 is the brand's first model (it has released others since), launched in 2014 by Nicolas Boutherin and Richard Piras. With the KLOK-01, it is not the hands that turn but three dials – one for the hours, one for the minutes and one for the seconds – that rotate in an anticlockwise direction. A mix of watchmaking expertise, fashion and style, of Swiss precision and French design, Klokers is tracing an unusual path, counter to conventional codes. The strap mounting system means that all Klokers products are independent, compatible and interchangeable. From €468.
OCHS UND JUNIOR ANNUAL CALENDAR An annual calendar watch accounts for months with 30 or 31 days. The date therefore only requires manual adjustment once per year on March 1st. Conventional annual calendar watches display the date, month and weekday using text and numbers. They have annual calendar functions which are implemented using levers and springs and comprise many parts (Patek Philippe’s uses 154). Dr. Ludwig Oechslin chose to display the date with analogue dots in order to put the time at the top of the watch’s visual hierarchy, and make the date readable from the same distance as the time. Oechslin invested 3 years developing a new annual calendar function comprising just 3 additional parts, because fewer parts mean fewer interactions and higher reliability. All functions can be set simply using the crown. Ochs und junior manufactures about 40 annual calendar watches per year. Each watch is sold directly by cofounder Beat Weinmann from the Ochs und junior workshop in Lucerne, Switzerland. From CHF7,400, a real entry-price for such a clever complication.
LOUIS VUITTON TAMBOUR WORLD TOUR Inspired by Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s historic collection of luggage labels, the dial of the Tambour World Tour displays these travel stickers on a Monogram or Damier Graphite canvas background. Four models in steel, with easily interchangeable straps and powered by a quartz movement. A colourful, fun watch. €2,300.
BAUME & MERCIER CLIFTON BAUMATIC COSC Launched at the 2018 SIHH, the Clifton Baumatic is coming along nicely. Elegant, understated, well-designed, and powered by an automatic movement with a silicon balance spring and COSC-certified Powerscape escapement (accurate to -4/+6 seconds a day, individual certificate provided on demand), it offers a respectable power reserve of 120 hours (5 days). Impeccably finished, “requiring no service for at least five years” and affordably priced, the Clifton Baumatic has no lessons to learn from anyone. CHF2,850.
SEIKO PRESAGE URUSHI BYAKUDAN-NURI LIMITED EDITION A new creation in the Presage collection of fine mechanical watches once again takes its inspiration from Japanâ€™s everlasting fascination with the moon. This new limited edition uses one of the most elaborate lacquer techniques of all, Byakudannuri, as well as traditional Urushi, to portray the rich tones of the sky and moon just before dawn. Byakudan-nuri is a technique that has been used for centuries to decorate Urushi lacquer and, because of the complexity of the craftsmanship involved, was reserved exclusively for use in places and on objects of high status, including temples, shrines and on the armour of Shogun warlords. The Presage Urushi Byakudan-nuri Limited Edition in steel is available since early December in selected Seiko outlets worldwide. Just 2,000 will be made and each is offered with its own serial number and in a specially designed presentation case. â‚Ź2,500.
MONTFORT BRUCE Montfort Watches presents the first automatic watches with 3D-printed dials in stainless steel. By using 3D printing, they have succeeded in creating a pyramidal texture inspired by the classic Clous de Paris finish at an affordable price â€“ this is a technique that offers unlimited potential for expression. The finish of these dials lends them an almost mineral appearance. It took Montfort and the Digimetal company two years to achieve this result, using a technology known as binder jetting, which uses a special glue to solidify the metal powder in complex forms. The dial is strengthened and made rigid by sintering. The four-piece case is made from hardened stainless steel. CHF1,990.
BASTIAN ANTONI TURBULENT The Turbulent is the introductory timepiece from Bastian Antoni, a new brand founded by two men with a passion for design. 45mm in diameter, in stainless steel with a transparent back, a domed sapphire crystal and a sunray-patterned dial with an aperture revealing the balance of the automatic Swiss made SW200-1 movement. The stated ambition of this new player is to offer “the best possible quality for price”. Which is: US$930.
HERBELIN DUO The velvety silver of the dial highlighted by elongated Roman numerals lends purity and sobriety to this new timepiece in steel with a yellow gold PVD coating. Apart from the date subdial at 6 o’clock in the men’s model and the diameter of the cases (28mm for hers, 38mm for his), these two watches are identical, symbolising “the complicity of souls”. Quartz movement. €530.
EMILE CHOURIET SOLEOS A three-dimensional dial with silvery white highlights, a sunburst motif extending all the way to the diamond indices, blued hands, a crenelated crown – everything in this watch design evokes the sun that gives it its name. Sapphire case back, ETA self-winding movement. Date at 3 o’clock, water-resistant to 30m, sapphire crystal. Available in 40mm and 29.5mm. Unbeatably priced, starting at CHF1,190.
HIGHLIGHT SPECIAL STORY
ATOMIC MECHANICAL CONTROL
A NEW PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF TIMEKEEPING (PART 1/3) Uniting electronic, atomic, and mechanical systems, URWERK’s latest creation is much more than just a “timepiece”. It is a fusion of centuries, technologies and inventions, linking the intuitions of Abraham Breguet directly to the sharp precision of atomic clocks. In this first part of a series on the Atomic Mechanical Control, we highlight the origin and main features of this disruptive creation.
URWERK – known for its avant-garde mechanical watchmaking and its formal and technical experimentation – could not be content with simply reproducing Breguet’s invention of 220 years earlier. The rather crazy option chosen by URWERK’s creative duo was to turn their attention to the most accurate master clock of all – the atomic clock. The atomic clock constructed by URWERK, accurate to within one second every 317 years, interacts with the mechanical watch in three ways – so that over time, the chronometric performance of both items merge. The first operation, the most challenging technically, involves regulating the rate of the watch. The second operation, which is distinct from the rate adjustment, precisely synchronises the minutes and seconds display of the watch with that of the atomic clock. As for winding the watch, this is the most straightforward operation in this ultra-complex assembly. This project represents a unique combination of the atomic and the mechanical that is unprecedented in the history of timekeeping. With this unparalleled achievement, URWERK is opening a window on a future as yet unknown. In the next episodes of this series we will reveal in detail the highly challenging regulation method of the timepiece. • PART 2/3 A DISRUPTIVE REGULATION SYSTEM (March) • PART 3/3 THE TIMEPIECE “AMC” (June)
e had the chance to have a first glimpse of this formidable invention last year. URWERK describes this project as its “most ambitious and perilous venture”. While we are used to an (often too) emphatic tone in the watch industry, this label is not exaggerated; it's fully deserved. The Atomic Mechanical Control (AMC) bridges concepts that our minds wouldn’t automatically associate. Basically, it all comes down to one question: how could a mechanical movement, with its physical vulnerability, ever equal the performance of a piezoelectric quartz oscillator? The answer was uncertain… until the AMC came to life. This hybrid timekeeping construction consists of two autonomous, but linked, systems. The first part is a fixed base unit, a 35kg aluminium-housed atomic clock with roughly the same dimensions as a mid-sized computer tower. The second part is a mobile unit, a purely mechanical watch that can be worn on the wrist or securely docked within the base unit. It all started when, as a kid, URWERK’s co-founder Félix Baumgartner discovered a fascinating mechanism. His father, a watchmaker and restorer, opened a book and explained Breguet’s “sympathique” clock to him. It was a way of setting and regulating a mechanical watch without any human intervention, thanks to a “mother” clock. This complex operation is carried out by a metal rod which extends from the clock into the watch. It enables the watch mechanism to compare the hour shown with that of the master clock and synchronise it by correcting the minute and hour hands, to adjust its rate and rewind the watch.
HIGHLIGHT SPECIAL STORY
URBAN JÜRGENSEN GENESIS OF A WATCH
SUSTAINING BRAND IDENTITY IN A NEW CATEGORY (PART 1/5)
t the helm of Urban Jürgensen for the last four years, Danish-born Søren Jenry Petersen is a man with a method. Highly articulate, he worked for decades in the telecommunications handset sector. It is with the benefit of this experience, and a keen awareness of the disruptions that can (rapidly) shake up an industry, that Petersen has taken up the challenge of directing the strategy of a 245-year-old watch company with Danish roots, today established in Biel, manufacturing fine Swiss made high-end timepieces with the use of traditional methods and applied craftsmanship. Last year, “The Alfred” special edition charmed many with its traditional “grenage” dial, timeless design and original distribution formula: the timepiece was ready to be picked up directly at the brand’s new Atelier. This opportunity to meet the people behind the watch is one of the elements that points to Urban Jürgensen's most distinctive feature: it is a brand with a human touch, made by true craftsmen for men of good taste. In an industry where the buzzword "experience" is repeated endlessly, almost mechanically, here is an actual experience.
VENTURING BEYOND CLASSIC This year, Urban Jürgensen is ready for a major new challenge: the creation of a brand new watch collection. It was part of the strategy of the new ownership from the outset to launch a product in the vaunted 70
contemporary luxury stainless steel category, rightly respected and feared for its complexity of demands. It's a category that – aside from numerous “re-editions” – has been almost at a standstill for over 40 years. Søren Jenry Petersen wants to bring something new to this segment: “I believe the time has come for a beautifully designed, clearly differentiated and well executed alternative. The benchmarks we all know, and we're approaching this task with a lot of respect”. Nevertheless, the size of the market is too big to ignore, and it seems natural that Urban Jürgensen´s heritage and product culture should play a role here as well. It represents a new chapter in the 245-year history of the Urban Jürgensen brand, which to date has produced fewer than 1000 wristwatches. The company didn't begin making this type of watch until 1982 and now employs around ten people. “We start with a blank page. It’s a Herculean task and undoubtedly the hardest thing to do – but maybe it's for the best!”, says Petersen. He is nevertheless aided in the creation process by a method, which he has conceptualised (see graph below), and by his perspective on the Swiss watch industry, as an “outsider” from another highly competitive industrial segment: “Market conditions, technologies and history must be taken into consideration equally. Too often, brands get lost when they lose touch with their roots and their values. For Urban Jürgensen, it's all about the quality of the choices that are made”.
Over the coming year, independent watch company Urban Jürgensen will take us through the conceptualisation, unveiling and delivery of a brand new watch collection. In this first part, we explore the background and philosophy behind this creation.
THREE-HAND AND GMT MODELS Some things are non-negotiable, but you'll learn more about those in our next episode. The “Concept Brief” contains a number of must-haves. The concept must be highly flexible, whether in terms of the material used (steel, bimetallic, gold), the engraving or gem stone setting. The design must be iconic and easily identifiable from all others in the market. The movement must be in-house and automatic. Water resistance must be over 100 metres. There will be a three-hand and a GMT model, the “most useful watch complication today, when done in a userfriendly fashion”, as Petersen puts it. In keeping with the position of Urban Jürgensen, the pricing will be “clearly at the top end of the market” – which just underscores the need to create something truly covetable. The official launch will take place at Baselworld, with a possible pre-event beforehand. However, many mysteries remain… A name for this new collection? What will be its final design? How will the timepiece be received by both professionals and aficionados? Søren Petersen doesn’t want to unveil everything at once. First comes the method. We'll hear more details about the initial outcome soon enough. In the next chapter, in our March edition for Baselworld, we will reveal the design of the watch and a number of important features of the new collection.
Competition Market research Demographic / Preference studies Client testing Concepts 1 ideas
Distribution Retailers Regional marketing Other industries Value migration threats ideas
This graph represents the basic outline of my thinking process when deciding how to form a new product concept or a new design. There are three key elements: the market conditions (our environment), the strategy (based on our values, history and vision) and the technology (in our case with a network of suppliers).” “Some of these areas seem to be left aside in the watch industry, but for me they are all an integral part of making sure a new product concept has the best possible chance of success. The order is not coincidental: one always start with the market, the competition and the clients. As for ideas, they can come from anywhere, and rarely does anyone have a monopoly on them! Then comes technology which, in the watch industry these days, focuses only on production cost optimisation and alternative use of materials.” “For Urban Jürgensen, the most important driver of our product culture has always been balance. We rely on the quality of the choices we make. In the end, the most important driver is the authentic use of craftsmanship and materials, and making the right choices there alongside thoughtful, classically restrained design. For instance, we will make our GMT piece adjustable for time zones with no need to actually even look at the watch.” Søren Jenry Petersen, President and CEO of Urban Jürgensen, January 2019
Market drivers and customer needs
Concept defining parameters
3 Resources Technologies Logistics and capabilities Operations ideas
New product specs.
Collision Conflict Synergy Solution ! =TOTAL CONCEPT
2 Strategic intent
Strategy Roadmaps Product culture Design philosophy Brand values Categories Segmentation ideas 71
HIGHLIGHT NEW WATCH
CARRERA HEUER 02T TOURBILLON NANOGRAPH A REVOLUTIONARY CARBON HAIRSPRING Combining watchmaking with scientific discovery, TAG Heuer introduces a state-ofthe-art hairspring made of a carbon composite in the latest interpretation of the Carrera.
The carbon composite hairspring is produced from a gas, that replaces the well-known Elinvar- and silicon-type versions and improves the performance and precision of the watch. This new lightweight, low-density hairspring is virtually unaffected by gravity and shocks, and is completely anti-magnetic. Optimal thermal behaviour and aeroelasticity have been achieved by pairing the carbon composite hairspring with a tailor-made balance wheel. Aside from the carbon composite hairspring, the most distinctive feature of this chronograph is its multi-layer dial and movement combination, featuring sandblasted and fine-brushed hexagons on the movement plate, visible through an open-worked dial. The pattern can also be found on the oscillating mass, which has been treated with black PVD and is visible through the sapphire case-back.
The nanoscopic (i.e. a million times smaller than a millimetre) hexagonal pattern of the hairspringâ€™s carbon composite material is mirrored in the design of the Carrera Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph. A team of TAG Heuer mathematicians, physicists and chemists are behind this newly invented hairspring.
TAG Heuer unveils its newest innovation and a world premiere in watchmaking: a hairspring made of a carbon composite. The new component regulates the Heuer 02T manufacture movement, which meets the official chronometer standards and is fitted with a tourbillon. Quite simply, this timepiece represents the next generation of tourbillon watches.
HIGHLIGHT NEW WATCH
JEAN MARCEL TANTUM
ONE OF THE SLIMMEST WATCH COLLECTIONS ON THE MARKET With his latest collection, the TANTUM, Jean Marcel presents eight noble mechanical Swiss made wristwatches in an extremely flat stainless steel case. With a secret signature for their bearers. Named after the Latin word for “only”, the collection features two automatic chronographs with an overall height of only 11 mm, four three-hand automatic watches with date – and an extremely slim 8 mm total height – and, as a special highlight, two hand-wound models that are only 6 mm high. Due to the minimised overall height of the watch design, the timepieces in the new TANTUM collection, manufactured in a strictly limited edition of 100 pieces worldwide using only the finest ETA Swiss movements, can therefore be regarded as the flattest models in their respective market segments. The cases have each a diameter of 42 mm.
From 6 to 11 mm! Despite being so slim, the stainless steel cases of the TANTUM automatic watches and chronographs are pressure resistant up to 10 ATM, while the hand-wound models withstand up to 5 ATM of pressure.
Jean Marcel will be present at the Baselworld watch fair in 2019. You can find the brand in Hall 1.1 E09.
And there is a special signature: breathing on the TANTUM watch glass reveals the “JM” company logo for a brief moment. This “mystery effect” by Jean Marcel, a sophisticated secret signature incorporated into the sapphire crystal's anti-reflective coating, can be regarded as a unique sign of authenticity for the Swiss brand – thanks to an elaborate partial coating technology that cannot easily be imitated.
M EX C I IT C Y O
U B ITI ES S
& It is hard to put an accurate figure on the population of the biggest cities in the world. What we do know is that most of them are in developing countries, such as Mexico (Mexico City, 21 million people). Pakistan (Karachi, 23 million) or Nigeria (Lagos, 20 million). And they will matter for the future of the watch industry. We met key professionals from these giants that are still dwarfs on the global watch mapâ€Ś for the moment.
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M A S BY
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RJ Watches Día de los Muertos collection in collaboration with tattoo artist Xam, author of the “Sugar Skull”
Its ranking in the official Swiss watch export figures does not reflect its real potential for fine watchmaking and independent brands. The SIAR exhibition in Mexico City is the get-together of local collectors particularly focused on the most audacious timepieces.
wo of the most famous models in the history of the watch industry can trace their names back to Mexico. The TAG Heuer Carrera, launched in 1963, was named (just like a famous Porsche) after a car race that took place in the early 1950s, the Carrera Panamericana, which was particularly risky for the pilots as well as spectators. Well before that, in 1884, Girard-Perregaux’s La Esmeralda became the namesake of a watch store in Mexico City: this pocket watch with tourbillon and three gold bridges, the brand’s signature, won the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition five years later and was acquired by then Mexican leader, the authoritarian general Porfirio Diaz. A key market for brands such as Hublot, MB&F and RJ Watches, the country is a fertile ground for the “new watchmaking” of the 21st century. Ranked 19th among the global destinations for Swiss watches (with exports reaching an annual value of nearly 200 million francs), Mexico would undoubtedly be several places higher if we looked solely at Haute Horlogerie... even more so if we focused on the SIHH’s Carré des Horlogers! “Mexico is the number one Latin American watchmaking market, by a considerable margin. It is as important as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru combined,” says Juan Carlos Suarez, Audemars Piguet’s General Manager for Latin America. 78
The gang of four Four men in particular have contributed to the emer- Ramón González, CEO of the Raconli group (for a long gence of a distinct Mexican watch culture since the time the distributor of Audemars Piguet in Mexico, un1990s: retailers Ari Berger and Luis Peyrelongue, dis- til the brand took direct control), introduced Franck tributor Ramón González, and publisher Carlos Alonso. Muller to Mexico. “As of now, I only deal with inde“When I started in 1988, we simply couldn’t import pendent watchmakers,” says the man who just added watches into Mexico, as brands had De Bethune to his catalogue. “We try to to justify local production,” recalls support them as much as possible, beLuis Peyrelongue, whose grandfather cause we love this very creative watchhad the exclusive rights to distribute making. Every year, we also invite a Rolex in the country (his competitor new brand to SIAR, like Le Rhöne last at the time was the famous Esmeralda year or Rebellion two years ago.” boutique). In order to meet this requirement, the leading brand had its bracelets manufactured in Mexico. A new wave of luxury Ari Berger, director of Berger Joyeros, comes from a family that specialised in The signature of a free trade agreement gemstones in Europe, before emigrating with the European Union in 1997 and to Mexico City in the 1940s. “The last ten then with the EFTA countries (includ“The last ten years years have been frenetic for watchmaking Switzerland) in 2000 was a turning ing,” he says. “Many brands have estab- have been frenetic for point for the development of the watch lished themselves here since customs watchmaking. Many and luxury industry in the country. “A tariffs were lowered. And Mexicans buy brands have established new wave of luxury brands has arrived much more in their home market.” over the past decade,” notes Stéphanie Today, watch prices are comparable to themselves here since Martinez, Montblanc’s Mexican marthose in the United States. Only VAT is customs tariffs were ket manager. “The increased supply, as applied, at a rate of 16%. well as the appreciation of the dollar, lowered. And Mexicans “We are all of the same generation, buy much more in has pushed consumers to buy more Ari, Luis, Ramon and myself,” explains and more locally.” their home market.” Carlos Alonso, editor of Tiempo de Carlos Alonso points out another imRelojes and organiser of the annual Ari Berger, retailer portant factor: “Mexico is the only Latin SIAR exhibition. “A whole generation American country with stable macrodetermined to change traditional business!” When economic conditions, not suffering the same upheavals the Spaniard arrived in Mexico in 1994, the revival as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the Venezuela. Since of the mechanical watch was starting to gain trac- 1996, annual inflation has been rather low, almost at tion all over the world: “I was in the right place at the the level of Western countries.” right time. Customers wanted more than Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier and Omega. The interest also shifted towards new independents such as Franck Muller or Michel Parmigiani.” 79
The result has been the emergence of major collectors in the country. “People here are Latins, impulsive in their purchases, passionate! The world’s second largest collector of Piaget timepieces as well as one of the world’s most important collectors of minute repeaters live in Mexico City,” Carlos Alonso explains.
Knowledgeable collectors Marco Tedeschi, manager of RJ Watches, is also familiar with this market, since it is home to his brand’s most important collector. Mexico is among the top three markets for RJ Watches. “We produce timepieces for customers looking for original products,” explains the CEO. “Gold timepieces work well, as do large sizes, at 48 mm or 50 mm. It’s a very masculine market, even though we launched our Hello Kitty model in 2017 at the SIAR!” The brand has devoted entire series of its models to Mexican culture, with its Día de los Muertos and Lucha Libre watches.
Even though the slowdown in the industry since 2014 pushed the biggest retailers to focus on their most important brands, Carlos Alonso believes that “there is still room in Mexico for independent Haute Horlogerie brands.” The number of small watch companies exhibiting at the last edition of the SIAR in October 2018 is a good sign. As is the considerable interest surrounding Ferdinand Berthoud, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s watchmaking project. Although it produces only a few dozen models per year, it won the jury prize for its FB1 Malaspina unique piece (named after an 18th century explorer of the Americas). Elodie Thellier, General Manager of TAG Heuer for the Caribbean and Latin America, who also attended the event, shares this enthusiasm: “The Mexican market has the particularity of being very knowledgeable in terms of watches. This is one of the countries where we sell our most expensive productions.” Several dozen TAG Heuer tourbillon timepieces have already been sold there. Christian Konrad, President of Bulgari for Latin America and the Caribbean, appreciates this market for its “risktaking” collectors, who dare to think outside the box: “Our Octo Finissimo model, with its unconventional format, works very well here. Breaking the codes is rewarded. It’s very pleasant to work here, because you can push your limits in a market that is not at all traditional or conservative, unlike some of the others!”
The importance of limited editions No wonder, then, that a brand as polarising as Hublot receives a warm welcome. The architect of its development in the region is Rick De La Croix, based in Miami with his group Ares Distributors, which specialises in the distribution of luxury products in Latin America. “Hublot’s sophisticated sports style fits well with Mexico, which is not a classic market,” he explains. “We target collectors through VIP events: for example, we brought more than 100 guests from Latin America to the World Cup in Russia. What is also key is the creation of limited editions.” Hublot is already a recognised champion in this domain, producing several series each year dedicated to the Latino culture. Zenith, another brand in the LVMH group, has benefited from the “modernisation of the collections over the
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Latin America Edition 80
The L.U.C Perpetual T Spirit of ‘La Santa Muerte’, a unique piece by Chopard for the SIAR, sold in just six minutes
No e-commerce, no secondary market Another major challenge is the security of points of sale in a country plagued by violence and arms trafficking linked to drug cartels. This issue partly explains the geographical coverage of luxury, with independent retail stores concentrated in the ultra-chic and secure district of Polanco in Mexico City, while the bulk of the luxury market is operated via major shopping centres such as Palacio de Hierro and Liverpool. “All our points of sale are located in shopping centres,” says Christian Konrad at Bulgari. “This gives our customers a degree of discretion, because you can’t know they’re coming out of a jewellery store.” Looking ahead, what are the main drivers of growth for the Mexican watch market? Surprisingly, while e-commerce is making waves everywhere else, particularly in the United States, it is not yet a hot topic in Mexico. “We are pioneers since we have had a local online sales platMontblanc 4810 form since 2017,” explains Stéphanie ExoTourbillon Martinez at Montblanc. “But there are a Slim Limited number of complications: banks often Edition Mexico reject credit cards and logistics remains complex.” Beyond the physical constraints, Marco Tedeschi of RJ Watches past two years,” according to Julien believes that online sales are “simply Rolao, brand manager for Mexico. “We not part of the buying experience in the already sell a majority of Defy models Mexican watch culture, where the perthere. And the average purchase price sonal relationship is essential.” is high, based on international comThe secondary market, which is boomparison.” ing in Europe and in the United States, Not surprisingly, Rolex dominates the does not carry much weight in Mexico Mexican market. Patek Philippe, on “If Patek Philippe doubled either. Carlos Alonso offers the followthe other hand, is not as present as one the number of its most ing analysis: “In the West, there is a form might imagine... mainly because of desired timepieces it sent product availability, as Carlos Alonso to Mexico, it would double of economic maturity and a level of ‘fatigue’ where consumption of new prodpoints out: “If Patek Philippe doubled its sales immediately.” the number of its most desired timeucts is concerned. There is a preference pieces it sent to Mexico, it would dou- Carlos Alonso, publisher for vintage timepieces, associated with ble its sales immediately.” Ari Berger both a better price and a certain authenexpresses this differently: “The biggest challenge for us ticity. On the other hand, in developing countries, where is the waiting lists: the issue is not selling them but ac- wealth is more recent, the focus is on the 0-kilometre car, tually getting the product from Switzerland!” new complication timepieces, first-hand.” The core group of major collectors reflects both the po- More than half of the Mexican population is under 35 tential of the Mexican market – for Haute Horlogerie and years of age, and we were struck by the youthfulness for independents with extravagant creations – and its of the public when visiting the SIAR. “It is this future limits, with a middle class that is struggling to emerge generation that will continue to develop watchmakin this country of 130 million inhabitants. “There is a par- ing organically,” says the publisher. The women’s watch ticular bias towards Haute Horlogerie,” confirms Carlos market is also far from reaching its full potential. Alonso. “It’s not a big market for entry-level or mid- “Worldwide, women’s models account for an average range.” In a more affordable price range, Mido (Swatch of 30% of our sales. In Latin America, this rate is down Group) benefits from historical strength in Mexico. to 20%,” says Elodie Thellier at TAG Heuer. 82
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A detailed view of the centre of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and the nation’s economic capital, with its 23 million inhabitants and important harbour.
As one of the country’s largest retailers, Rameez Sattar is relying on an emerging middle class to increase sales. Pakistan’s economic future depends in particular on a major infrastructure project, One Belt One Road, initiated by its Chinese ally.
ike many of Pakistan’s businessmen, Rameez Sattar lives between Karachi, the country’s economic capital, and London, the metropolis that is home to a large Pakistani community. He is establishing a new watchmaking entity in London. He already owns the Sonraj network of watch stores in Pakistan which has some ten points of sale in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Mirpur (Kashmir), representing a broad selection of Swiss brands, including Omega, IWC, Ulysse Nardin, Hublot, Vacheron Constantin and Panerai. Rameez Sattar, who descends from a Memon family of jewellers from Gujarat, took over his father’s business
in the early 1990s. His father was the representative in Pakistan of Rado – a historically dominant brand on the Indian subcontinent. Rameez Sattar has since transformed the business completely, via a patient upgrade in the range of watchmaking products he offers. “Back then, we were mainly selling on credit, which caused problems because we had very few guarantees,” explains Rameez Sattar. “I then decided to act by completely changing the business strategy.” At the SIHH, he discovered Vacheron Constantin, his first coup de cœur, which he added to the store’s portfolio in 1996, along with Hublot.
Karachi, the seventh largest city in the world
to Balochistan on the Indian Ocean, a project called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Chinese influence is expected to increase further and the renminbi, “In 2002, we opened a new store in Karachi that changed the Chinese currency, is already accepted as an official the dynamics of our business, by focusing exclusively means of payment, in the same way as the dollar, euro on high-end watchmaking,” says Rameez Sattar. With or pound. New cities are being built along the One some 23 million inhabitants, Karachi is now the sev- Belt, One Road route. enth most populous city in the world. Its main eco- Rameez Sattar also believes that the conditions for doing nomic and strategic asset is its large port on the Indian business in the country will improve: “The new Prime Ocean. Minister Imran Khan is educated, proThe arrival of malls and shopping cen- The arrival of malls business; he lives in the ‘new world’. tres has changed the situation of retail and shopping centres Security has improved since 2010 and in Pakistan – as it has elsewhere in the the government is seeking to reassure has changed the world. “Faced with the phenomenon investors. The country has one of the situation of retail in of luxury supermarkets, we have defastest growing middle classes in the cided to further increase our speciali- Pakistan – as it has world. In international comparison, sation in watches by investing mas- elsewhere in the world. Pakistan has the 18th largest middle sively in company structure, research, class on the planet, according to the and training for our teams and after-sales services.” World Bank.” In particular, Rameez Sattar has launched a continuous training initiative for watchmakers operating in the most remote regions of this vast country. “There Retaining local investment is a historical network of talented local watchmakers. It also opens up business opportunities for us, like the In response to capital outflow, the government is also new shop we have inaugurated in Kashmir.” emphasising the importance of investing in the country rather than buying abroad. “Many emerging countries are now seeking to retain domestic capital and A corridor between China and the ocean also their most educated and talented inhabitants, rather than experiencing a brain drain,” says Rameez Sattar. Pakistan has a very young population (the average age Another factor of change is of course the arrival of is 22), but it also has many inequalities. Nevertheless, the internet. Sonraj is about to launch its own e-comlocal retailers are counting on the emergence of an merce site, which should be online by early 2019. “I fiupper-middle class to develop their business. Some sec- nance everything out of my own pocket and I prefer to tors, such as IT, seem promising. The country’s econom- go slowly but surely,” explains the owner. “Only a few ic future will depend in large part on the evolution of brands will participate at first. We still need clarificaits relationship with its strategic ally and major trading tion from the government on what we can and cannot partner, China. The vast infrastructure project called do regarding e-commerce in Pakistan.” One Belt, One Road, which aims to revive the old Silk Above all, the retailer intends to stimulate the counRoad by connecting the country directly to Central Asia try's watchmaking culture. “I am still regularly asked: and Europe, also includes a seafront that leads to the why should I buy a watch that is the same price as a new port of Gwadar in Pakistan. car? Another time, a customer wanted to order 50 In April 2015, Pakistan and China announced their in- watches from me in 6 weeks. When you know the intention to invest $46 billion in infrastructure leading dustry’s time to market, it’s a challenge!” 85
I U LO Y G IN N IN E L A DO G R I G N IN A O O N S? R S
Deremi Ajidahun is often congratulated by Swiss CEOs on the appetite for watches of Nigerians vacationing in Paris, London or New York. The retailer responds by expressing regret that they are not purchasing the watches at home, in Lagos or Abuja. Africa, despite its demographic weight (190 million inhabitants in Nigeria alone) and the promises of development, today accounts for scarcely 2% to 3% of luxury purchases worldwide.
n the subject of Africa, many CEOs talk of a continent in transformation, a young, fastdeveloping land, sometimes even a future El Dorado of luxury. But when it comes to action, investing to build a luxury distribution network on the continent, it is another matter. Why indeed build a boutique in Lagos in Nigeria when the richest residents spend most of their time in the major European capitals, where they do not skimp when it comes to buying luxury watches? The local African retailers are the good-natured muffins who promote the watchmaking industry and companies while often missing out – along with the entire local economy – on actual sales. Deremi Ajidahun, one of the largest watch manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa, with seven boutiques in Nigeria and a group that sells far more than just watches, has still not found a solution to this problem. So he listens attentively to the enthusiastic talk of the watch company CEOs, while preparing to throw their words back at them at the negotiating table...
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An African-style “Chinese crisis” 2017 was a very difficult year for purchasing watches in Nigeria. This was because of an African-style “Chinese crisis”: a new government set up a “clean hands” policy and an anti-corruption campaign which, as in China, severely restricts gifting. Up to that time, these favours between good friends from the worlds of politics and business, often in the form of luxury watches, represented a huge 60% of the retailer’s turnover from watch sales. Also, in 2016 Nigeria entered the deepest recession of recent decades owing to the drop in the price of oil, of which the country is a major producer.
A detailed view of the centre of Lagos, the largest city in Africa.
Luckily for him, Deremi Ajidahun has more than one string to his bow, since the business on which his group Hole19 (founded in 1987) was built – BtoB marketing in the golfing sector – continues to bolster his sales figures. As does the sale of luxury property, in a group with very diverse assets. He himself has launched his own clothing line. But the blow to his watch boutiques was tough. He has two multibrand boutiques, in Abuja and Lagos, where he is an agent for brands of the LVMH Group, as well as for independent brands such as Louis Moinet, Louis Erard and Seven Friday. The retailer also runs two Hublot boutiques, two TAG Heuer boutiques and one Ulysse Nardin boutique. “Nearly ten years ago, my wife had the idea of expanding into the luxury market. Since I love watches as much as golf, watches were a natural choice,” explains Deremi Ajidahun.
If we had a critical mass of models and brands here, it would be much easier to consolidate the market. In that respect, I have to pay tribute to LVMH, who were pioneers for the watch industry in Africa.”
Counterfeits and lack of cash
Nevertheless, the retailer is categorical: there definitely exists potential for growth – and not solely by expanding into South Africa, the continent’s strongest economy. “We’ve got enough scope for development in Nigeria, a country of 190 million inhabitants! I believe we haven’t even attained 20% of our potential.” That is on condition that the watchmakers begin to flesh out their distribution networks in Africa. “Richemont is a group with African origins. They could do more on the continent!” But there are two major stumbling blocks on the path to watch sales growth in Africa. Firstly, the weak bankKeen buyers of luxury ing system obliges local retailers to watches… in Europe develop almost solely on the strength “The number one of their own equity, which restricts Until 2017, growth was steady. The cusobstacle to business their growth. “We haven’t borrowed tomer base of the Zakaa chain – the a single penny,” underscores Deremi name of the group’s luxury watch arm in Nigeria, as on most Ajidahun. “The number one obstacle – is largely local. Since there is no real of the continent, is to business in Nigeria, as on most of middle class in this country where in- the banking system.” the continent, is the banking system. equality is high, the aficionados are mainly HNIs (high-net-worth individuals) or UHNIs They won’t give you a loan to let you develop.” (ultra-high-net-worth individuals), to use the finan- Another huge problem is counterfeiting, which is deeply rooted in society and the local economy. “You cial jargon. While brands like Hublot met with immediate suc- can see three-star hotels in Nigeria where counterfeit cess in the country, Deremi Ajidahun explains that by watches are on display… There is no law that effeccontrast, “selling an affordable, less well-known luxury tively combats the problem and the market is flooded brand such as Louis Erard was not easy at the beginning”. with counterfeit Chinese watches. It’s rife in all secIt was the elegant women’s watches offered by this inde- tors: I even see counterfeit golf balls!” As for e-commerce, it too is flooded with counterfeit pendent Swiss brand that eventually saved the day. Faced with the crisis that broke out in 2017, the retail- watches... “That is why we do not invest in online sales,” er was forced to offer huge discounts in his stores, “of says Deremi Ajidahun. “We’re prioritising education around 50% to 60%”. But, he emphasises: “On the other first of all, so that people don’t imagine they can pick hand, we were determined to keep all our staff. We up a Patek Philippe for less than 2,500 dollars.” didn’t introduce any new brands and we held multi- In the space of a decade, the retailer has already traced ple local events. We used to hold big events in the past, out a possible pathway for luxury watches on the conbut we realised that the return on investment wasn’t tinent. But he has no intention of stopping there: “I think, for example, that it might be possible to douas high as for more targeted public events.” The retailer cannot count on any kind of economic ble the number of boutiques of a brand like Hublot in patriotism from his fellow citizens to get back on Nigeria in the next few years!” Africa is probably not track. Although Nigerians “adore” watches, some 80% the El Dorado some people talk of, but a more realistic of their watch purchases are made abroad. “We’re try- vision of its potential could allow it to gain a few pering to shift purchasing back to the domestic market. cent in real growth – on the continent itself. 87
D RL A N AT N A C SIT M H H ES U A O BF F O TH R E W O
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The country is already a commercial, logistical and financial hub for Central America and the Caribbean region. With its modern infrastructure, political stability and low taxes, Panama is attracting more and more wealthy residents. Above all, it is counting on the recent extension of its famous Canal to strengthen its status, benefiting from the globalisation of trade.
he cargo arrives, the lock closes, the water level drops, the lock opens: in Miraflores, in the suburbs of Panama City, the maritime ballet is repeated to infinity, 24 hours a day. It takes a dozen hours for a ship to pass, for a fee, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean or vice versa, via the Panama Canal. This shortcut will save it from having to travel around the coast of Latin America and make its transfer much faster from the United States to the commercial El Dorado of China... or bring it back in the opposite direction, filled with goods produced in Asian factories. 88
A detailed view of the city of Panama with the famous Canal
The Panama Canal is the economic artery of this small country of four million inhabitants, and makes it the commercial hub of Central America and the Caribbean. The local economy, one of the major beneficiaries of the opening of China to global commerce over the past twenty years, has developed strongly since the return of the canal to Panamanian sovereignty, after the handover from the United States on December 31 of the year 1999. The canal was expanded two years ago at a cost of over $5 billion to accommodate larger vessels, known as “postpanamax”. Cargo ships with a capacity of 14,000 containers can now use the canal (compared to 5,000 previously). The Panama Canal Authority, the government agency that manages the Panama Canal, expects to triple its revenues with this extension. In addition to direct revenues from ship transit taxes, the canal has enabled the country to become a logistical and financial hub, attracting multinational corporations and banks. The Panama Canal Authority accounts for 45% of the country’s GDP. Panama has also developed as an aeronautical hub, through Copa Airlines, a relay point between Latin America (with direct flights to no fewer than nine Brazilian cities, for example) and North America. In fact, most passengers only transit through Panama and do not leave the airport - you realise this when you actually get outside and desperately try to find a taxi! Given this configuration, we might also expect to find a watch market in full boom. It is indeed developing, but it is not yet the tax-free “eldorado” for watches that one might expect to find. Panama only ranks 47th in international markets for Swiss watch exports – just ahead of Brazil with its harsh protectionism. The Latin American watch giant remains Mexico, with its strong appetite for luxury watches. And the undisputed watch hub for all Latin Americans remains Miami, where the second edition of Watches & Wonders will be held next February.
The watch distribution structure in Panama includes tracting more and more pensioners from the European subsidiaries of large holding companies with very var- middle class. ied activities, such as Motta and Grupo Wisa. But the Mercurio Joyeros also attracts passing trade, which acmost prestigious watch retailer in the country is un- counts for a third of its sales. “The country is trying to doubtedly the family company Mercurio Joyeros, which develop tourism, to the point that Panama City has a has represented Rolex exclusively since 1981. It has four surplus of hotel rooms,” explains Luis Jelenszky. With stores in Panama City and recently opened a new point its sixty storey towers, reminiscent of a “Latino Dubai”, of sale at the international airport – a wise choice given the city seems disproportionate for this small country. the country’s growing importance as an air transit hub. The upside, however, is that it is possible to find luxury The history of this retailer goes back to 1944 with the rooms at a very good price... Unlike many congested opening of a first shop by an immigrant of Austrian or- megacities, there is room here to grow. The infrastrucigin. In 1977, it was taken over by Don Carlos Jelenszky, ture is already there! Panama’s economic ambition is a man of Cuban origin who had left the country fol- evident as soon as you arrive in this country, from its lowing the revolution with his family architecture and city skyline. of nine children, including eight boys. With its sixty storey As regards the portfolio of brands We had the opportunity to meet one towers, reminiscent represented by Mercurio Joyeros, Luis of the heirs of this watchmaking Jelenszky emphasises the choice of a of a “Latino Dubai”, dynasty, Luis Jelenszky, in Mercurio price pyramid without overlap, rangJoyeros’ main boutique on Samuel the city seems ing from Tissot to Audemars Piguet. Lewis Avenue in Panama City. Three of disproportionate for The flagship brand remains Rolex. “We his brothers also work at the company, this small country. are fortunate to work with brands like and his son has just joined. He himself Rolex and Audemars Piguet, which studied at the Centre de Formation en Horlogerie in protect their retailers. In Panama, it is not so easy to Lausanne. find quality watches, so we have a good historical po“It was in the 21st century that the Panamanian econo- sition and have been able to build strong credibility.” my really took off, with growth rates among the high- What about the internet and the development of eest in Latin America,” he emphasises. “In recent years, commerce? “Whoever says that digital is not important growth has stabilised at around 5%.” would be a liar! But the thing we do best is that we are Two-thirds of the retailer’s clientele is resident. “Panama a family business that offers a difference in trust, comis an easily accessible country with low taxes,” says the pared to what we find online.” Indeed, Mercurio Joyeros watchmaker. “It is now benefiting from the arrival of mul- carefully chooses its development axes. As proof, he tinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Dell, and other chose not to settle in Colon, a town in the north of the companies fleeing the troubles affecting Venezuela.” country located on the canal access from the Caribbean Surrounded by a Colombia that is beginning to recover Sea. It's a tax-free wholesale area, and rather cheap, but from the civil war, a Venezuela plunged into deep cri- very insecure. Its golden age was really in the 1990s. sis and a Central America plagued by drug trafficking, Like many Latin American nations, the country comPanama is a haven of peace for the inhabitants of the bines the worst and the best, with for example the region, as well as for capital and financial flows, with world's highest proportion of land covered by national its political, commercial and monetary stability (it uses parks... and one of the highest rates of human inequalthe American dollar, to which the local currency, the ity. Yet the country has just joined the list of “high per Panamanian Balboa, is pegged). capita income” nations, according to the World Bank. This tropical tax haven – remember the infamous The development potential for watches, if it follows the “Panama Papers” – is trying to be more than a giant curve of Panama’s economic ambitions – particularly mailbox or a cash register for dubious flows... and is at- with the extension of the canal – is promising. 89
E-COMMERCE P. 92
PRE-OWNED P. 96
BITCOINS P. 102 E-RETAIL IN THE USA P. 98
STARTUP P. 106 WATCHES ON CREDIT P. 101 INSTAGRAM P. 110
FAKE NEWS P. 116
CROWDFUNDING P. 114 90
DISRUPTIONS Bitcoins, now used for buying timepieces, are up and down, rise and fall. Crowdfunding on Kickstarter creates many watch supernovas that disappear as fast as they appeared. Pre-owned online sales are “the new China”. Buying on credit disrupts traditional ways of acquiring timepieces. Richemont as digital startup… Welcome to the tumultuous new world of the watch, online.
PRE-OWNED: THE AMBITIONS OF
WATCHBOX BY SERGE MAILLARD
Danny Govberg is the heir to an illustrious family of Philadelphia watch retailers. In just a few years, the American has shaken up his business model to focus on two main areas: e-commerce and pre-owned watches. Last year, the entrepreneur was targeting sales of over $200 million with his WatchBox platform. He is also expanding internationally, starting with Switzerland.
e arrive at a superb mansion on the shores of Lake NeuchĂ˘tel to be welcomed by Susanne Hurni and Patrik Hoffmann. This renowned duo from the Swiss watchmaking world are generally associated with Ulysse Nardin, having spent several decades there. However, we will need to get used to seeing them in a new light currently better known across the Atlantic: that of the online second-hand watch sales platform WatchBox. In the United States, Danny Govberg, who came up with the idea for, and co-founded WatchBox with Tay Liam Wee and Justin Reis, is also an important watchmaking figure. He is the heir to a family of retailers based in Philadelphia since 1916. Govberg has a plumper address book than most in the industry - he represents the best of watchmaking in the United States, including Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Omega, as well as ultra-exclusive brands like Greubel Forsey, for which he is a key reseller. 92
Danny Govberg’s two hunches You would have thought that someone of his calibre and dynamism would have Until now, pre-owned gradually expanded to other states in the watches have almost USA. Yet Danny Govberg has chosen to reexclusively found their main “confined” to the Philadelphia area, way onto the grey where he now runs two stores. The businessman had a (correct) hunch that the wind market. But here they are in all their glory, just of change was blowing towards digital: an ambition that was global rather than naa stone’s throw from tional in scope. the manufacturers! He also suspected that online watch sales The symbolism would be inseparable from second-hand or pre-owned models. After all, watches last is undeniable. much longer than cars. Brands have also tended to over-stock in recent years, creating sometimes staggering levels of unsold stock. We need only think of Richemont, which spent over $200 million buying back excess stock last year. With vintage booming, the pre-owned market is seeing itself legitimised. One example is the recent takeover of the specialised online platform Watchfinder by Richemont. The stars seem to be aligning for this entrepreneur who took an early gamble on the digital and pre-owned sectors. Having opened offices in Philadelphia and Hong Kong, new premises have now been established in Switzerland at the heart of the watchmaking world. Until now, preowned watches almost exclusively found their way onto the grey market. But here they are in all their glory, just a stone’s throw from the manufacturers. The symbolism is undeniable.
$60 million in watch inventory How does WatchBox work? Quite differently from most online platforms that simply link up sellers (mostly dealers whose job this is) and private buyers. The company launched by Danny Govberg actually buys the watches from private individuals “often within 24 hours” before selling them to its contacts, via traders specialising in watchmaking (around twenty are in Philadelphia, six are in Hong Kong and two are based in the new Neuchâtel office). Danny Govberg, founder of the WatchBox pre-owned online sales platform 93
“We only sell what we have in stock,” says Susanne Hurni, Marketing Manager at WatchBox’s new Swiss subsidiary. “We are neither a market place nor a consignment site, but currently own watches worth about $60 million.” “It actually all began with a segment of the WatchBox app which enabled customers to register their collection online to find out about and monitor the popularity of their watches. It was a bit like the first thing a trader does... With new tracking tools and Big Data, we can easily identify and cross-check which watches from which collector interest which other registered collectors.”
”We are neither a market place nor a consignment site, but currently own watches worth about $60 million.”
WatchBox traders can then leap into action with customers registered on the Susanne Hurni app to match supply and demand at a “fair price calculated like a share value”... Interestingly enough, this means the site adds a visible, “human” step to the impersonal digital “invisible hand” that guides other intermediary platforms (many of which have a similar system for recording collections online). The issue of finding the best possible balance between man and machine certainly remains a broad topic. However, the key difference with Watchbox is the fact that the company buys the watches itself, “taking a risk” which in return gives it greater control over current operations and reassures potential investors.
“When you put your watch up for auction, you put it on consignment but you’re not sure if it will find a buyer,” says Susanne Hurni, “That said, if you call us, you often receive your payment within 24 to 48 hours.” Items still need to be assessed. “We’ve hired a watchmaker to do these assessments. If we find that the watch is not in the condition promised, it may lose value. In addition, we don’t specialise in watches dating from before 1985.” What about the warranty on timepieces acquired and resold? “We provide a new 15-month guarantee,” explains Patrik Hoffmann, director of WatchBox’s Swiss subsidiary. “Interestingly, we trace the history of the watch as soon as it comes to us. This means it will be even easier to maintain and repair, if necessary.” WatchBox’s after-sales service for Europe is located in Neuchâtel.
Convincing retailers and brands In the short term, WatchBox’s goal is to put the successful trial carried out in the United States into practice in Europe and Asia via the new local offices. In the medium term, the platform aims to involve retailers in what it does. Retailers are a tremendous potential resource in the pre-owned watch sector and are currently under pressure to change their business model. In the long term, the objective is to forge partnerships directly with the brands, which are certainly not
The trading floor of WatchBox in Philadelphia 94
lacking in stock... Hence the strategic importance for WatchBox of establishing itself in Switzerland. “We are already in very advanced negotiations with retailers in Switzerland,” says Susanne Hurni, “We offer them an attractive price and it is our name that is displayed since we buy the watches ourselves; on other platforms, resellers can find themselves in an awkward position with the brands they represent.” WatchBox hopes to bring the brands on board with what it does. The initial signs are there: “We offer a form of market cleansing that also keeps the brand image strong, rather than asking for knock-down prices or destroying watches. Letting retailers resell last year’s watches 40% cheaper or destroying stock only weakens the brand image and annoys collectors.”
A market to build
The company is ambitious: it claimed more than 200 million dollars in pre-owned watch sales last year i.e. annual growth of 40% , with a target of 500 million dolBringing consumers lars in turnover “in the years to come”. Today, 160 people work for the compaon board ny worldwide. “In Neuchâtel, we will For Susanne Hurni, the grey market have between 12 and 15 employees by remains symptomatic of a mismatch the end of 2019,” says Patrik Hoffmann. between watch supply and demand. The director of WatchBox’s Swiss subWith its “valuation” system, WatchBox sidiary is aware that this is a market still intends to offer the “right market price”. to be built “with a good dose of educaWhat really changes things is the use of tion for brands, retailers and collectors.” Big Data, and collecting information The other major hurdle is persuading that most closely matches the real exconsumers to buy online. “Americans alpectations of real buyers. ready trust American Express more than CEOs are certainly beginning to realise anyone standing behind a counter,” the full potential of the second-hand Patrik Hoffmann points out. “Such trust market. “How can we have turned a will certainly take longer to achieve blind eye to this phenomenon for “We will increase in Asia and Europe than in the United so long? The brands have been a little interest around certain States. But in China, consumers are alarrogant in wanting to impose new models, whether ready getting used to receiving packwatches. Young people have changed ages at home bought through WeChat.” through our content or their consumption patterns and no As far as distribution is concerned, it is longer necessarily want to own items through partnerships possible to have a watch purchased on for the long term. With platforms like with influencers.” WatchBox delivered to your home, or ours, they can buy and sell watches Patrik Hoffmann to go to a local subsidiary to collect it easily,” says Susanne Hurni. in person. In the future, partnerships A sociological as well as a commercial turning point? with retailers could enhance the concept of proximThe platform does not intend to remain a mere trader ity, via a kind of watchmaking “glocalisation”. or financial intermediary: it wants to become a trend- Through its platform, WatchBox is therefore positionsetter...via its own content. In Philadelphia, WatchBox ing itself as a pioneer at the forefront of a major change has already created a video studio where it produces in the long history of watchmaking. After the technologwatch presentations and reviews. It is preparing to ical breakthrough of the quartz watch in the 1970s, the do the same in Switzerland. “We will increase interest mechanical watch boom of the 1990s and watchmaking around certain models, whether through our content globalisation in the 2000s, now comes the digital revoor through partnerships with influencers,” says Patrik lution, sweeping up everything in its path, from the Hoffmann. productions of yesteryear to those of tomorrow. 95
E-COMMERCE: “THE SECOND-HAND MARKET IS
THE NEW CHINA”
BY SERGE MAILLARD
As additional evidence of the growth of the pre-owned watch market (thanks largely to the internet), several Swiss watch manufacturers, including Zenith and Raymond Weil, have signed an official partnership with the American online platform True Facet, a pre-owned specialist.
n the website of the watch dealer True Facet, you can see side by side the price of a new Raymond Weil timepiece and that of the same model in a second-hand version, sometimes 50% or even 60% lower. Is this another dodgy site where the origin and actual condition of the watch are not guaranteed? Far from it! In fact, the Swiss watchmaker gives direct approval to sales of its second-hand models, which it has serviced itself. Raymond Weil, Frédérique Constant, Zenith, Fendi, Fabergé, Ernst Benz and Stoic (the latest project from watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin) have already partnered with True Facet, which claims to be the first platform in the secondary market to offer pre-owned watches, certified by the brands. This phenomenon would probably have been unimaginable ten years ago! But faced with booming online sales of secondhand watches, brands are realising that it is just as 96
much in their interests to take a piece of the cake, by getting involved in this market themselves. Some provide this service themselves, as MB&F has done since last year; others have chosen to join forces with platforms like True Facet. We have already seen the service centres of secondary market companies such as Watchfinder (since acquired by Richemont) securing the approval of watch brands. But here the operation is taking a step further, since the brands are directly involved in sales of their older products, at a lower price than their more recent references – a concession that is also a sign of the power of this new market.
“The grey market could kill the industry” In addition to its official partner brands, True Facet continues to sell second-hand models from Cartier, Rolex, Breitling, TAG Heuer and Omega, via an authentication and warranty process managed by the platform itself, without the direct endorsement of these brands. The co-founder of the New York-based company, Tirath Kamdar, nevertheless hopes to quickly convince more watch companies to partner with him. But isn’t he playing both poacher and gamekeeper, since he operates in both the certified and non-certified markets? “We have actually always wanted to help brands avoid the grey market, which has the potential to kill the industry,” he responds. “The timing is in our favour, because watchmakers are now trying to regain control of the secondary market.”
In his view, the industry is paying the price for its refusal to manage production volumes, with most of the oversupplies ending up on the grey market. “Brands are reluctant to reduce their volumes according to actual economic activity, resulting in an ever-increasing imbalance between sell-in to retailers and stores and sell-out to end customers. In this respect, the export figures for Swiss watches can be misleading. This creates negative chain effects, including a form of rivalry between brands and their retailers that is counterproductive. And it ultimately leads to buy-outs to correct this strategy: last year the Richemont group had to buy back several hundred million dollars of inventory to clean up the market.”
A high-tech company above all
has also formed partnerships with brands, but on new products) or Watchfinder (Richemont), Frank Müller, an expert with German consulting firm The Bridge To Luxury, estimates the value of the global secondary market at over €4 billion. But here again, this does not take account of private transactions whether online or offline, sales on less known sites, or the countless watch exchanges around the world! In the face of the industry’s “Chinese obsession”, which has held sway since the beginning of the millennium, Tirath Kamdar hopes to restore the American market to its true worth. His company generates more than 90% of its sales in the US, and it’s undoubtedly the most active country in the second-hand watch market. “The rise of the Chinese market created a completely different way of selling watches for Swiss brands,” he says. “When it slowed down, watchmakers began to look for the next emerging market... But there is no new China. Or maybe the new China is the second-hand market!”
Faced with this phenomenon, the cofounder of True Facet believes he offers a clever solution for brands that do not want to decrease production. “Even if they reduce the quantities, there are The new value of still watches that will not sell as well as the brick-and-mortar store anticipated, or that will not immedi“For future generations, ately find their audience.” What role will physical points of sale buying and reselling To convince the brands, Tirath Kamdar watches online play, if the secondary market, domiputs forward several arguments. He will become an nated by online sales, really gains in begins with the new online shopping increasingly familiar power? The American retail network habits, which benefit the second-hand is already under tremendous pressure gesture. Brands must watch market first and foremost. “For from the internet. Retail behemoth future generations, buying and resell- measure the impact.” Kmart is about to close its doors, uning watches online will become an in- Tirath Kamdar, co-founder of True Facet able to compete with online sales. creasingly familiar behaviour. Brands Paradoxically, one of True Facet’s latest must recognise its impact,” he says. “Some younger cus- ventures is a partnership with a physical retailer, Stephen tomers no longer consider entering a watch store at all. Silver, based in Silicon Valley. The retailer is now devotYet they can be truly passionate about watches!” ing part of his store to the sale of second-hand watches. Another argument is that the company, which defines it- Tirath Kamdar explains it as follows: “The weakening of self primarily as active in new technologies (it is support- the physical network of watch stores has created a vacued by several Silicon Valley venture capital funds), collects um in strategic locations. For instance, Audemars Piguet data on its users that can be valuable for brands, which and Richard Mille (which has decided from now on to operoften lack direct feedback when working with retailers. ate only through its network of own-brand stores, see interview “Our SEO is very powerful, we are better referenced than with Tim Malachard on p. 24) have cancelled their partnersome of the brands themselves,” says Tirath Kamdar. ships and are no longer distributed in Silicon Valley, “If we count all the watches that are traded without any which is now our third strongest market in the world.” tracking of the transactions, I think that the secondary A little like what we are seeing with online giant market is already larger in the United States than the Amazon, which is powering ahead with its network of new one,” he continues. These figures are difficult to physical stores, it is likely that the future of the secondconfirm. By combining transactions carried out via on- ary watch market will also include a re-evaluation of line watch sales giants such as eBay, Chrono24 (which good old bricks and mortar. 97
USA: WHEN INDEPENDENT RETAILERS JOIN
FORCES ONLINE BY SERGE MAILLARD
An expert of the American watch retail network has come up with a system where brands and representatives cooperate in terms of online sales. The result is Troverie, a platform that puts the local and regional retailer back at the centre of the e-commerce game. Major brands have joined the adventure, which could be a precursor of what will be done tomorrow on a global scale.
E-commerce: dream and reality
n terms of the e-commerce He started with one basic observaof watches, no one has yet tion: watchmakers and their repfound the magic formuresentatives have not yet manla. This is to be expected, aged to agree on how to proceed though, as we are still in the inonline. The former have launched fancy of the web, in which we are their own e-commerce platforms seeing the gradual digitization en masse, while the latter, who of all of our daily acts. We've had legitimately demand a form of the digital Big Bang, but solar exclusivity in the territory they systems and planets have not yet cover, are often prevented from formed. As a result, the e-comswitching to online sales. merce of watches resembles a Another observation fuelled the great hotchpotch, between brand reflection around Troverie: that platforms, second-hand sites, auof the current mismatch between thorised third parties and the the expectations of the final cusmass of networks with obscure tomers, who, according to Fred origins. It's quite a nebula! Levin's researches, would be in Fred Levin, arguably one of the favour of an â€œofficialâ€? system of greatest living experts on watch online sales, and the reality of distribution chains in the United sales, which remains dominatFred Levin, the founder of Troverie States*, proposes to put some ored by brick-and-mortar retailder in this digital anarchy, via the new Troverie online ers, and where official online circuits represent baresales platform, bringing together brands and their re- ly 1% of the total, compared to 18% for unauthorised tailers in the United States. platforms.
The network of participating American watch retailers on the new e-commerce platform Troverie
gardless of shipping or in-store pickTroverie, which was launched last sum- Troverie works with up delivery method, is prepared for mer, aims to reconcile brands with 17 brands in all price the client by the designated Troverie their retailers and with customers’ ranges – from Hamilton “ambassador”. new expectations. The sales platform The network is still under construcintends to create online opportunities, to Breguet – and in particular for regional or local re- retailers in over 70 cities. tion. Troverie currently works with 17 brands in all price ranges – from tailers, which constitute the building blocks of the watch distribution chain in the United Hamilton to Breguet – and retailers in over 70 cities. States. Often in family hands, many have had to close Fred Levin states: “Our platform will offer a solution their doors in recent years, faced with the brands' to a number of current problems: the grey market, the takeover of their distribution channels, and competi- lack of online connection with the new end customer and the situation of many independent retailers who, tion from the web. for the most part, do not have the authorisation of the brands they represent to develop e-commerce.”
The omnichannel model
Those who have survived this wave of reorganisation nevertheless appear solid. Troverie is therefore targeting this local and regional “elite” of the American watch network, and not large national chains like Tourneau, which generally already have their own ebusiness platforms. Troverie functions as an omnichannel network for retailers’ resources, with the authorisation of the partner brands. The customers will first look for the model of their choice among the watches offered on the platform. Then they decide whether they want to receive it online or, if available locally, whether to pick it up at a partner retailer’s boutique. Each order, re-
Solving several complex equations The expert continues: “As far as brands are concerned, they seek to reproduce online a form of luxury experience that can be found in their stores; but they are not sure how to proceed. As far as retailers are concerned, they are in a situation where they have exclusivities in given territories, while e-commerce is global. As for the customers, they wish to have the possibility to buy on their own terms, in store or online.”
Consumer online buying preference
How luxury watches are sold
Survey respondents' purchasing preference
% US watch sales above $1,000; 2016
Unauthorised 14% Authorised multi-brand boutique 18%
According to a survey by Fred Levin, there is a mismatch between the expectations of American customers and the reality of sales.
Authorised brick-and-mortar 10%
Authorised online 57% (multi-brand omni via jewellers)
Orders are not allocated solely according to geographical criteria. Indeed, the allocation system works on the basis of an algorithm that also takes into account factors such as service level or stock availability. “We evaluate what retailers are doing, including through consumer surveys. It’s all about the quality of the data we collect – new technologies allow us to analyse and use it very efficiently, but we also need the trust of our partners to access the data.”
A critical mass
The official Troverie site is thus only the visible part of the system... However, brands are rather capricious when it comes to preserving their image and their “universe” online. How can they be kept satisfied? “That is an important point, indeed. We have tried to design a platform that meets the design requirements of brands, in order to offer a true luxury online experience. Of course, brands “New technologies have their own graphic environment. allow us to analyse Towards more transparency? We work closely with them to find the and use data very best possible balance.” The Troverie efficiently, but we also The word is out: it's about restoring business model is based on a fixed and confidence where, until now, suspi- need the trust of our variable commission. cion has reigned supreme. This implies partners to access it.” The start-up needs now to convince a new level of transparency between more brands and retailers to join the brands and retailers. In this sense, the Troverie project network, in order to offer the most complete coveris disruptive, as it relies on the goodwill of all its ac- age possible, both of the American territory and of the tors, involving a real change of culture. In particular, watch landscape. technology makes it possible to track the location of This is the great strength of giants like Amazon, which inventories very precisely – perhaps the most impor- have so far taken advantage of a form of universal tant stumbling block, up to now, between watchmak- digital coverage to swallow any competition... but ers and their retailers. They often end up feeding the which, by buying up supermarket chains, are now also famous “parallel markets”. The system thus requires speaking in favour of the omnichannel model, seekmore transparency for better stock management. ing the best balance between presence in the physical “We give retailers the opportunity to join our system and virtual worlds. “Omnipresence”, perhaps? via their e-commerce, which they can extend, via our platform or via both channels. Once implemented, the system can integrate with any retailer or brand *Before launching Troverie, Fred Levin founded LGI Network, site. What is really important is that when a customer a company specialising in market research on the jewellery searches on Google, they immediately come across and watch industries in the United States. In 2010, he sold sales platforms authorised by the brands, instead of the company to the NPD Group but continued to lead it until players operating on the grey market.” his departure last year to start Troverie. 100
THE LEASING FORMULA BY SERGE MAILLARD
Paying in monthly installments is already standard practice in the automotive industry. In Switzerland, a startup now offers to buy watches on credit. The initiative has been successful and the brands are intrigued. We met with its founder.
On the first day, my site had 37,000 visits. I was expecting to sell two or three watches, but I eventually sold nearly 40 timepieces that day!” Nicolas Hildenbrand, 37 years old, is still shaken by the thundering beginnings of his initiative, which involves selling timepieces over credit on the internet. This practice is widespread in the United States on second-hand platforms such as True Facet or WatchBox, but new in Switzerland. It's particularly unusual for new models, which constitute the majority of the inventory of about a thousand watches on the Watchdreamer website, launched in November 2018.
to spend 5,000 francs at a time on a watch,” says the entrepreneur. “But more and more people are interested in paying 150 francs a month if they are given the opportunity. Our system enables us to reach new customers without breaking the price or destocking.” The initiative is even beginning to attract interest from watch brands themselves. The entrepreneur has already received requests, particularly from companies launching their own pre-owned certified activity, a popular business today. While the sale of new units is stagnating, the secondary market is booming. Luxury houses may fear for their brand image if they were to offer (in the immediate future) a leasing system, but going through an intermediary like Watchdreamer could prove profitable.
An interest-free loan
“While the watch market is full of discounts, we only sell at full price, by making the payment method more flexible,” Nicolas Hildenbrand insists. He goes even further in this process since he is introducing, with a Nicolas Hildenbrand, founder of Watchdreamer partner institution, the possibility of a loan up to 10,000 CHF at... 0% interest! Isn’t that risky? “The debt is managed by our partner, with whom we share the margin on the sale,” says the entrepreneur. “We are ready to reduce our margins to ensure more volume.” Don’t go breaking my price With the success of his initiative, Nicolas Hildenbrand’s biggest logistical challenge is now to fill his company’s Active until now in the family wine trading business, inventory with new watches. To this end, he partners Nicolas Hildenbrand has indeed proved he has a fine with a network of retailers in Switzerland who do not nose! Today his site regularly sells about ten watches have their own e-commerce site – manufacturers often in a single day, at an average price of 10,000 francs. The put a brake on their willingness to develop their own most sought-after brand is – not surprisingly – Rolex. online platform. If watch brands enter into a direct All Watchdreamer customers have so far opted for partnership, a whole new business stage will open up credit purchasing. “Fewer and fewer people can afford for this promising startup. 101
BUYING WATCHES WITH
BITCOINS BY SERGE MAILLARD
New virtual currencies like the famous bitcoin are just early arrivals in a promised new digital revolution, blockchain. The first timepieces inspired by this new world have been launched by Hublot, Gvchiani and Chronoswiss. All can be purchased with... bitcoins, of course. But the value of the digital currency soared to vertiginous heights before falling very abruptly, raising many questions.
his is, in the mind of many, the new stage in the digital revolution: the one that promises to finally set us free from human intermediaries in our daily transactions. What if currencies, private data and trade exchanges could be secured in a fully encrypted and decentralised space, with information so split up that it becomes forgery-proof? This is the promise of the “blockchain”, the new gold standard of the fourth industrial revolution. It is a form of digital disruption whereby intermediaries are gradually disappearing and a Business-to-Consumer world is being created click by click (with Consumerto-Consumer being gradually brought back into line), free of any “friction” between the provider of a service or product and its receiver – an area which watch retailers know only too well… 102
The blockchain is also a real revolution in contemporary dogma, thus achieving the libertarian dream of creating a system that is both confidential at the micro level (ensuring individual anonymity) and transparent at the macro level (with all transactions traceable)... Today, individuals can lack privacy, notably when they (voluntarily) display their private lives on social networks. However, companies, banking institutions and states can still keep their activities confidential (but for how long will this remain the case?). In future, will we be spying on the NSA instead of the other way around?
The bitcoin’s rise and fall The most famous symbol of the digital revolution is the “bitcoin”, an evolving blockchain cryptocurrency introduced in 2009, which experienced a speculative surge in December 2017 taking it to a unit value close to 20,000 dollars, before experiencing an equally spectacular dive that left it at only 3,800 dollars last December.... The mysterious inventor of bitcoin and the first “blockchain” calls himself Satoshi Nakamoto, but he is probably a kind of figurehead representing an individual or group. Every bitcoin holder stores their currency with a code in a digital wallet. It’s important not to lose or have your account key stolen, because no insurance is going to come to the rescue!
blockchain that could make it possible to standardise the world’s medical systems. As things stand, it is not The virtual currency is accused by many economists even possible to issue a prescription in Switzerland (and even by the “Wolf of Wall Street”, Jordan Belfort) that would be recognised in the United States. Another of being something of a speculative gamble, creat- dream is to end corruption via trade exchanges that ing a bubble that is always on the verge of bursting. would be both transparent and forgery-proof. Like the dark web, it is also criticised for being used The main aim of the blockchain, a globalist tool par for illicit activities in places where the state cannot excellence, is therefore to remove all intermediaries easily watch. In addition, several cryptocurrency from transactions, which will in future be performed thefts have been recorded, with the directly and instantaneously via dePirate Party’s favourite currency itcentralised, encrypted and secure Given bitcoin's self being pirated on occasion. With networks. For onlookers, this new rollercoaster trajectory, digital revolution veers between anxious banking institutions at the you need a lot more helm, a counter-revolution is now unpromising a smoother and more efderway against this process that chalficient world thanks to digital netof the cryptocurrency lenges how our monetary, commerworks and suggesting a frightening now to acquire any cial and economic systems function. dehumanisation process that could of these cryptobe straight out of an episode of the fuinspired timepieces. turistic Netflix series “Black Mirror”. An end to corruption? In this new world without a controlling body or public authority to serve as an intermediNevertheless, interest in the blockchain has percolated ary, can we avoid both anarchy and reducing human beyond insider circles. For example, there are prom- beings to their functional value? These are huge quesises of encrypted personal medical information in the tions.
Now to return to watchmaking! We have seen some online resellers (usually quite far from official and authorised distribution channels) start accepting bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as payment for watches. Most importantly, blockchain is taking its first steps in the sector with manufacturers. Setting specialist Shant Ghouchian, who founded his own watch brand Gvchiani a few years ago, has joined forces with Cryptolex to launch a certified watch in the blockchain, which he has called the “MasterBlock”. This mechanical timepiece is protected by a certificate linked to the blockchain and issued by Cryptolex, thus making it “forgery-proof”. Each numbered MasterBlock will have its own blockchain address. The first edition is limited to 2010 timepieces numbered from 0000 to 2009, the year
Gvchiani MasterBlock 103
bitcoin was launched. 2008 pieces will be sold on www.masterblock.ch and two customisable pieces will be auctioned: the 0000, named “Genesis”, and the 2009, named “Satoshi” in homage to bitcoin's creator. Each MasterBlock watch’s unique blockchain address is inscribed on its dial. How exactly is a watchmaking “blockchain” created? Every numbered MasterBlock watch is linked to the timepiece with the previous number. Each production stage is “engraved” into the blockchain, meaning that the full history of the watches can be traced. Indeed, the blockchain provides both confidentiality by protecting watches from forgery, and transparency for the products integrated into the network. The watches themselves are worth 16,500 Swiss francs. They have a rather unusual design which stands out in the crypto-world, with the large X characteristic of Gvchiani on the casing, opening onto the dial. The watchmaker has integrated several references to the blockchain, such as a DLC titanium “block”, a leather strap representing a decentralised network and the X line which, in this context, could be seen as evoking the bitcoin monetary code (XBT). As you might expect, payment can be made in bitcoin or in another lesser-known exchange protocol called Ethereum.
The crypto-design watches of Chronoswiss Another watchmaker has launched a series of watches inspired by cryptocurrencies: Chronoswiss has joined forces with Tech Bureau Europe to create five “cryptodesign watches”, manufactured in a limited edition of 101 pieces each. They are available exclusively via the cryptocurrency exchange platform Zaif. “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are a dazzling aspect of our future. With its homage to cryptocurrencies, Chronoswiss links the roots of traditional watchmaking with the digital revolution of new world currencies,” said Oliver Ebstein, owner and CEO of Chronoswiss. Two features link the watches more precisely to the blockchain: their design is directly inspired by cryptocurrencies and they can be acquired with bitcoins. The first series was sold via online auction last April. The names of the series, all based on the Flying Regulator Open Gear are “Bitcoin”, “NEM”, “Ethereum”, “Zaif”, “COMSA”. They all feature the logo of each cryptocurrency skeletonised in the small seconds and in the logo printed on the dial.
With Hublot, will blockchain become mainstream in the watch industry?
Chronoswiss‘s Flying Regulator Open Gear 104
A bigger watch player has now entered the bitcoin realm. A brand that has taken aim at the traditional codes of the industry since in its inception, Hublot quite naturally turned to this topic on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the virtual currency. Its new watch, the Big Bang Meca-10 P2P, is a limited series of 210 models designed to pay homage to the cryptocurrency, with a few hints at the celebration including a ten-day power reserve and a patterned bracelet recalling the interconnections of the blockchain. Most importantly, the Nyon-based manufacture has partnered with Asia’s leading digital asset broker, OS Limited, to process payment for this model priced at $25,000, which can only be acquired online using bitcoins. This cryptocurrency has already gone from a somewhat crazy virtual fantasy to a reality with unknowable consequences. It is now entering the watchmaking industry, through a major player. But given bitcoin's rollercoaster trajectory, you need a lot more of the cryptocurrency now to acquire any of these crypto-inspired timepieces…
Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 P2P 105
RICHEMONT’S DIGITAL BET BY SERGE MAILLARD
Is this Richemont’s (somewhat politically correct) version of the generational Swatch? Here is the background.
n paper, the project ticks all the boxes of a generational watch: a minimalist design at an affordable price; an eco-friendly slant thanks to its recyclable materials; available solely online, and with numerous personalisations possible. And of course, a launch in Los Angeles, where so many contemporary projects either make it or break it. Is this yet one more Kickstarter project by a young Californian surfer with a yearning for luxury watches? A Komono spin-off? No: it’s Baume, by Richemont! For the second time in its history (after the jeweller Giampiero Bodino in 2013), the watchmaking giant has cast off the role of the Prince Charming who wakens sleeping beauties for that of progenitor of a whole new brand. Baume, in other words. Price: from 490 euros. Available since last year. Heading a team of 15 people is the dynamic and affable Marie Chassot, who worked at Roger Dubuis before taking over as head of product marketing at Baume & Mercier. She makes one thing clear: “Baume is a separate brand from Baume & Mercier, even if it grew out of it.”
Digital transformation It all began three years ago during the numerous discussions within the company about the inevitable “digital transformation”. “Faced with this upheaval, ideas began to ripen,” the manager goes on. That is how the Baume project – “always enthusiastically supported by Johann Rupert” – was born. 106
Certainly, no one was expecting to see Richemont at the base of the luxury watch pyramid; it is usually closer to the top… More expensive than a Swatch, Baume is definitely on the second step up of the pyramid – on a level with giant Tissot (four million watches a year). But the brand’s sights are trained rather on the current fans of trendy names such as Daniel Wellington (more than two million watches sold in 2017) and Cluse, which currently have the upper hand. How to get under the skin of these new generations, the vast majority of whom wear no watch at all, many having been won over by the Apple Watch and the remainder by ultra-classic, slim and affordable offerings?
Reconciling design, price and environmental awareness Marie Chassot intends to occupy terrain that she feels is as yet unexploited: “Often, we see launches that are big on eco-responsibility but fall short on design. We want to create a product that is beautiful and responsible. There are nice-looking, affordable watches on the market and there are also eco-responsible watches: we want to combine the three factors of design, affordability and environmental awareness.” To highly contemporary aesthetic codes, Baume has added two aspects that are preoccupying brands the world over as they struggle to renew their customer base: digital features – and environmental considerations. “The environmental aspect was at the heart of the project from the start,” emphasises Marie Chassot. “We wanted to design a brand that meets the contemporary preoccupations of new generations by using materials differently. Of course, you can’t expect perfection from the word go. This is why we drew up a commitment to gradually move away from materials with a large carbon footprint, or animals, for example. We’ve also organised a recycling cycle.”
Is this yet one more Kickstarter project by a young Californian surfer? A Komono spin-off? No, itâ€™s a Richemont project.
Marie Chassot heads the Baume project at Richemont. 107
HRS Limited Edition 42mm Automatic
Baume offers straps in natural textiles, upcycled or recycled, such as cork, cotton, flax, alcantara, and recycled PET. Packaging is minimal. Has the new brand calculated the carbon footprint for the production of its watches? “Yes, but you have to agree on what is taken into account, between the processes of manufacturing, then distribution. There isn’t really any standard in this respect. We’re trying to gradually reduce our carbon footprint.” The brand has also set up a partnership with Waste Free Oceans, an organisation that collects plastic waste at sea, in rivers and on beaches. 108
In terms of distribution, Baume breaks with convention in that it is only available by ordering it over the internet, bypassing the classic network of watch distributors and retailers. The brand is a litmus test for the Richemont group, where online initiatives are coming thick and fast – given that entry-level products are always one step ahead of e-commerce and act as a kind of “pilot fish” for what might be the future of luxury brands. Added to this is the possibility of personalising the watch, which is also part of the current “consumer-creator” trend. The Custom Timepiece series is, for example, entirely customisable thanks to an online configurator that offers more than 2,000 variants. The basic watch lines closely follow the aesthetic codes of numerous other minimalist brands found, for example, on Kickstarter. One question springs to mind at the sight of these watches: should Baume not have taken a more original, breakaway stance, rather than following what is already in fashion – at the risk of going out of fashion fast? That was the strength of the Swatch, which in the 1980s swept everything before it with its unusual design and its use of plastic.
More questions than answers Baume without Mercier
Despite these debatable points, Richemont has the merit of considering the entry-level niche that the Two points provoked reactions from the watchmaking Swiss industry has greatly neglected during the past ecosystem at the announcement of this bold and un- decade. And Baume offers terrain for experimentation expected initiative by Richemont: the name – and the and reflection on the current globalisation of the luxorigin. Why choose the name of Baume, at the risk of ury watch industry. “diluting” or even “devaluing” the image of its larger What compromises can be made between price and sibling, Baume & Mercier? Marie Chassot defends the the origins of the materials? Is it possible to survive choice: “The Baume brothers created the Baume & solely online? How to win over the new, highly digitalMercier brand and we wanted to retain the affiliation ised generations? Is there still a place for mechanical with the spirit of that creation.” But would it be con- or quartz watches at the low end of the market, when ceivable – albeit at a different level – to see a new brand there seems to be growing segmentation between entitled Patek, Vacheron or Jaeger? smartwatches and the “genuine” SwissThe reputation of Baume & Mercier is One line is called quality mechanical watch? Like Code not comparable, but even so the op41, this new brand sparks more quesIconic – something of a tions than answers. eration is somewhat ambiguous here. First and foremost, the name points to cliché for a new brand... For example: one burning issue at an all-Swiss origin. But in actual fact, the moment is “glocalisation”. In that the Baume watches, non-Swiss-made, are assembled in case, should they not rather have gone the whole hog a subsidiary of Richemont based in the Netherlands and set up different, local assembly centres (United – Rotterdam being the largest port in Europe, which- States, Europe, Asia), to reduce the carbon footprint by makes logistical sense – with Japanese movements systematically using local products and being transfrom Miyota (Citizen group) for the automatics and parent about their origin? “We have to wait a while for from Miyota and Ronda for the quartz. The cases are the carbon footprint to improve thanks to decentralimade in Switzerland, the dials in Mauritius and the sation,” replies Marie Chassot. “First of all, we have to straps in Thailand. Certainly, with Swiss mechanical centralise. It’s a question of critical mass.” movements the brand would have run the risk of overstepping the symbolic barrier of 1,000 francs. “We fully assume the fact that the watches are not Swiss A new way of functioning made,” states Marie Chassot. “I believe that our new customers are looking for a quality watch more than a The manager is aware that the project is prompting label. The brand was launched in Los Angeles, because many questions, especially from purists: “Today, we want we’re starting to activate it in the United States, which to respond to calls to consume differently. Baume is in is without a doubt the maturest market today from the lots of ways a laboratory brand for the group, whether in perspective of e-commerce for watches. We’re taking it terms of e-commerce or the management of the future.” in stages, first of all in the United States, then Europe, in This is because Baume intends to function in a whole a more global manner. But we’re already shipping the new way known as “Teal” , a scalable organisational parwatch to 83 countries, including China.” adigm based on the natural environment. The concept The brand, which today is Richemont’s “gateway” was introduced in 2014 by thinker Frédéric Laloux. brand, has succumbed to a few facile, contemporary “We’re setting up a culture of adaptation,” explains temptations that cater to millennial fantasies. For ex- Marie Chassot.” The participants in the project have ample, one line is called Iconic – something of a cliché a strong sense of responsibility for its success. It’s a for a new brand... Names of the same ilk abound for set of consistent practices, with no contradiction bebrands that are springing up from nowhere on the in- tween the person you are at home or at work. It is alternet, to the point where the term has become virtu- ready applied in larger structures than ourselves.” ally meaningless. Given the watchmaking legitimacy of The daring move that Baume represents is both risky the group to which it belongs, did Baume really need to and intriguing for the number of questions it raises contribute to this semantic devaluation as well? about the future of the industry. 109
INSTAGRAM LONG TIME AND SHORT TIME
BY SERGE MAILLARD
The paradox of the supposedly forward-looking new networks is that they constantly plunge us into a distant and magnified past. The internet has given us unprecedented access to a wealth of archive material. The Speedy Tuesday sale of a â€™70s reissue by Omega, conducted via Instagram, is a strong illustration of this.
Patek Philippe’s Instagram account
e’ve probably never dreamed of the ’70s so much. Who would have thought it? When the internet arrived in the watchmaking world and began to overturn its distribution chain, coinciding with the sudden arrival of the connected Apple Watch, one could have been forgiven for assuming that its effect would be primarily disruptive. However, the opposite phenomenon occurred simultaneously: a thorough “revaluation” of a more distant watchmaking heritage. Young people with dreams of The digital fate of vintage brands vintage chic resurrected from the dungeons of history watches that were hitherto sleeping the sleep of the Brands understand the benefits they can derive from just. Is it simply nostalgia? this well-informed “back to basics” wave. Hence the Probably in part, because in this age of “short time”, multiplication of vintage models and reissues we have where absolutely every facet of everyday life is acceler- seen over the past two years at watch fairs. Brands such ated, “long time” is a dream. Give man as Rolex or Patek Philippe, which have what he wants and he will always turn The web has unlocked always been prized at auction, are less to its opposite! affected by this exercise, since their the most incredible But that’s not all. It’s also a technologientire history has been based on concal phenomenon, because the web has surge of knowledge in solidating their heritage with as few unlocked the most incredible surge of the history of humanity. breaks as possible. Collectors have knowledge in the history of humanity. This also, of course, consequently been more than happy This also, of course, concerns watch- concerns watchmaking, with these developments. making, which has made time its inCompanies that do not have this opwhich has made dustry. Archives have been opened, portunity, or which lack the wisdom to specialised sites have multiplied, sales time its industry. take it, perhaps penalised by strategic platforms dedicated to vintage and zig-zags and changes of ownership or pre-owned watches have emerged, and every year sees management, must endure a counter-revolution that new records set at auction. Watchmaking’s heritage, takes the form of re-evaluating their past – which can which used to be so difficult to research, locked up lead to semantic exaggeration and historical shortcuts. as it was in dusty libraries and chilly basements, has And brands that have no pedigree, such as those emerged from its icy tomb, revived by the heat of launched almost daily on Kickstarter by budding enelectronic networks!* trepreneurs, take up the aesthetic codes of yesteryear and invent a historical narrative based on a watch bequeathed by someone’s grandfather. Anything goes, as long as it hints at a long watchmaking history! We should also mention here the pure and simple rebirth of some of the wonderful brands of the past, as well as the still sleeping beauties like Universal Genève, which are being sought out on sales platforms and auctions and giving sweet dreams to aficionados. These brands may not yet have any new collections, but they already have a community, and without any marketing at all! Rolex’s Instagram account 111
Omega to alpha Generally speaking, the information revolution engendered by the internet (which may yet translate into a sales revolution) is a bonus for the best-established houses in the marketplace, those with the richest heritage, which have retained some kind of historical coherence. One brand that is rapidly climbing the vintage rankings, and which has clearly understood this phenomenon, is Omega. Its 1957 Trilogy (Seamaster 300, Railmaster and Speedmaster) set the tone. A more recent initiative gave new life to calibres dating back to 1913! On the face of it, these old models have greater powers of seduction with new customers than James Bond himself. Incidentally, the latest opus of the 007 franchise revived the superb 1963 Aston Martin DB5 – yet another sign of the times. Clearly, it was unthinkable to destroy such a beautiful object for the needs of the Skyfall movie (illustrating how spectators can instantly pass from ecstasy to fear!): a Porsche 928 finally did the trick. But perhaps the most striking illustra- The information tion of how to successfully navigate berevolution engendered tween “short time” and “long time” is Omega’s second Speedy Tuesday opera- by the internet (which tion. Finely orchestrated on Instagram, may yet translate into it featured 2,012 pieces of a 42 mm a sales revolution) is watch inspired by the Speedmaster a bonus for the best-
The Japanese Ultraman saga inspired the latest Speedy Tuesday watch from Omega.
During Omega’s latest Speedy Tuesday sale, the 2,012 watches introduced on the brand’s Instagram account sold out in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 17 seconds.
worn in the early 1970s in the Japanese Ultraman saga (one of the most famous examples of the “kaiju” or “giant monster” genre), featuring a bright orange seconds hand. Combining a vintage reissue with the current fashion for superheroes on large and small screens (Netflix has anestablished houses nounced the relaunch of an Ultraman in the marketplace. animated series) means guaranteed success with all those overgrown social-networked teenagers who are watch aficionados! The 2,012 limited edition watches went on sale for CHF 6,350 on Tuesday July 10th at noon on the brand’s Instagram account; they all sold out in exactly 1 hour, 53 minutes and 17 seconds (we expected no less in terms of precision from an Olympic timekeeper!). That’s nearly 13 million francs in sales, in less than two hours... It should be noted that the Speedy Tuesday concept was launched in 2012 by the Fratello Watches collectors’ website, first as a hashtag on Facebook and then as a forum for Omega and Speedmaster enthusiasts. It’s interesting that this idea has developed organically from a community of aficionados, brought together through the internet around a watch with venerable origins. Originally, the brand itself was not involved in the Speedy Tuesday events, which shows the power of networks (and people) to create independent, original initiatives in the vintage niche.
The two Bell & Ross accounts Another more recent brand has also adopted a very The concept of ‘curator’ is also very strong on this acinteresting approach to the use of social networks: count.” Bell & Ross. The Franco-Swiss house, founded in 1992, So here are two accounts and two approaches, to avoid has two Instagram accounts. One – bellrosswatches – descending into schizophrenia. Because it’s easy to is for “short time”. It’s the most popular, and also the get lost between long time and short time, there’s a most classic, with fast, heterogeneous and continuous constantly updated, frenetic, regular account – and posts on new releases, at the blistering rate imposed an account based on what we want to bequeath to the by the social network. The other, bellross_chronology, future: sustainability and memory. Is it not precisely is more surprising. This one is for the “long time”, with this delicate balance that human beings seek today – a very limited number of visuals, orbetween a daily tide of demands and ganised in a chronological and ultra- Is it not precisely this notifications, and their inalienable methodical way. A way of slowing the delicate balance that will to rise above their human condiflow of time, perhaps... tion, and their fate as homo digitalis? human beings seek “This second account is a bit like the anti-Instagram,” Carlos-A. Rosillo, co- today, between a daily founder of Bell & Ross, explained at a tide of demands and recent meet-up in Paris. “It’s based on notifications, and their * Europa Star has started to digitise its rich the concept of sustainability; it goes inalienable will to rise archive stretching back over 90 years (the against the diktat of instantaneity that company was founded in 1927). A first batch we see everywhere. We’re reintroduc- above their human of more than 60,000 pages will be available condition, and their ing the concept of memory to a netthrough subscription as of February 2019. work that tends to forget everything. fate as homo digitalis? Check out www.europastar.com
For the short time: Bell & Ross’s busy main Instagram account, bellrosswatches
For the long time: a sober and slower account of the brand’s creations, bellross_chronology 113
Eric Mauron and Christophe Musy, founders of Mauron Musy
BY SERGE MAILLARD
While there are countless watch start-ups launching crowdfunding campaigns on global platforms such as Kickstarter, the Fribourg-based brand Mauron Musy has decided to launch a very localised subscription scheme in its region. 114
“We had several points of sale in Asia... but only one in Switzerland. This is paradoxical for a watch brand that wants to source 100% of its production locally. We had to react, as we wanted to launch our new model.” As explained by its co-founder Christophe Musy, the watch manufacturer Mauron Musy – a spin-off from a watch supplier based in the Broye region in Switzerland – has decided, like many other start-ups, to use participatory financing. However, there was no question of using the global Kickstarter platform – “we didn’t want to bypass retailers” – or Raizers – “we didn’t want to split our capital between 400 people”. The brand finally opted for a regional crowdfunding model. Christophe Musy explains: “One of our contacts in the Broye told us that he could find us a hundred customers on the spot! That got our attention.”
From global to local The participants in the scheme are involved in the to develop a manufacture calibre. The new models thereproduction, and they also become ambassadors of the fore have a Swiss Crafted label, a substitute to Swiss brand. They can choose customisations from a total of made launched by Mauron Musy, “certifying that 100% 100 numbered watches. Above all, they benefit from of the watch has been developed, manufactured and a 50% discount on the new Armure Collection model, crafted in Switzerland”. the MM-03 in titanium, whose retail There was no question price is set at CHF 9,700. The first results are encouraging: “We of using the global Instagram is not enough have selected people who could in- Kickstarter platform: crease our visibility. And word of mouth A first prototype of the MM-03 titaworks well. Some 90% of the partici- “We didn’t want to nium Armure model was presented bypass the retailers. ” pants come from the Broye region. We at the Basel fair last year. As well as have many entrepreneurs among our having a new calibre, the design of ambassadors. One of them even wanted a gold case on the series has been completely revamped, with more his watch that is water-resistant to 30 atm!” contemporary lines. Several specialisms, including This new addition to the Armure line also takes the dial manufacturing, have been brought in-house. brand, known for its seamless waterproofing system, In parallel with this original fundraising campaign, in a new direction. It is the first series to be equipped the brand is now looking to expand its retail network, with a homemade calibre – precisely in order to an- particularly in Europe and the Middle East. “We startchor Mauron Musy as much as possible in its region. ed by selling directly on Instagram and financing the Previously, the brand used standard EMC (Eterna) cali- whole development ourselves. Now we want to build bres, but this option was increasingly out of sync with strong partnerships with quality players.” Around 200 the brand’s philosophy. The firm has now established of the new models are being manufactured. The offia partnership with movement specialist La Joux-Perret cial launch will be in February 2019. 115
SOME FAKE NEWS ABOUT
BY SERGE MAILLARD
In the digital age, we hear a lot of scare stories about magnetic fields and the damage they can cause to our watches. Letâ€™s untangle the real from the fake.
agnetic fields, measured in gauss, are some of the most recent concerns in the watch industry. The fight against their omnipresence is on everyoneâ€™s lips. They are accused of disrupting the proper functioning of the watch by slowing down or even temporarily stopping the balance spring.
As a general rule, it is sufficient to move away from the magnetic field for the watch to restart normally. But not always. The reason for this is the persistence of magnetism on the balance spring, which will affect accuracy. It also seems to affect the accuracy of the discourse of watchmakers and the general public, since there are many false assumptions about both the causes and consequences of magnetism. So, what is true and what is false?
Magnetic fields are increasing due to mobile phone emissions. FALSE – While it’s true that magnetism is increasingly disrupting the functioning of our mechanical watches, it’s not because of the mobile phones themselves, but because of their cases! The cases of many electronic devices, from smartphones to tablets, contain one or more closing magnets that create a magnetic field. Many handbag clasps and other everyday objects do the same. So the problem comes from mechanical fasteners being replaced by magnetic closures. Going through a security gate at the airport is highly risky for my watch. FALSE - In addition to the presence of a magnet, the other necessary condition for magnetic disturbance is direct contact with the transmitter in question. So, unless you go and rub your timepiece against the metal detector, there’s no risk at all. Similarly, power lines will not interfere with the proper operation of your watch. When a watch is “resistant to magnetism”, there is no risk. FALSE - A timepiece can claim an ISO 764 standard if it resists magnetic fields of around 60 gauss. This certification is no longer adequate for the plethora of magnets we encounter in everyday objects. We can legitimately start talking about a need for resistance up to 1,000 or 1,500 gauss. Nevertheless, to date, no objects emitting more than 1,500 gauss have been observed around us that present a risk of direct contact.
After-sales service centres are now clogged up with watches disturbed by magnetic fields. TRUE - The problem is real, given that the popularity of mechanical watches has grown over the last decade in tandem with increased exposure to magnetic fields in our immediate environment. Customers tend to underestimate the effects of magnetisation, which is one of the major causes of watch returns. Demagnetising a watch is a long and tedious procedure. FALSE - It takes less than a minute, and it is accomplished by exposing the watch to another magnetic field that releases the tension created. Several companies now offer “demagnetisers” to both companies and private individuals, which make it possible both to calculate the watch’s precision and to demagnetise it if necessary. Watchmakers are now setting up new production lines that incorporate amagnetic components or constructions that make watches more resistant to magnetism. Quartz watches are more resistant to magnetism. TRUE - Quartz watches are both more accurate and more resistant to magnetic fields than mechanical watches, which are penalised by their “vital” metallic components. In general, if a quartz watch is affected by magnetic fields, without any residual effect and therefore without affecting its accuracy, it returns to normal operation as soon as it leaves the field of exposure.
Thanks to Daniel Braillard, Chief Operating Officer, Baume & Mercier, for his insights. Tip from Jaeger-LeCoultre: By placing your watch next to a compass, you will immediately know if it has been magnetised. If the compass hands start to rotate when you move your watch around the device, it means that your timepiece is magnetised. 117
UNDERRATED VINTAGE CHRONOGRAPH CALIBRES BY LORENZO MAILLARD
Can you think of a single brand that doesn’t offer a chronograph in their current line-up? The chronograph is still perceived today as one of the most desirable complications a watch can feature. Technically challenging to produce and design, and built for a specific usage (military, aviation, racing), the chronograph is a must-have for any respectable watch company.
aljoux 72, El Primero, ETA 7750, Lemania 861, Longines 13ZN: all these calibre references are well-known in the watch industry for powering some of the most famous chronographs out there – vintage Rolex Daytonas, Longines, Zenith El Primero, Breitling Chronomat and Omega Speedmasters. But what about the other manufacturers that tried hard and sometimes failed to come up with their own version of what a chronograph should look like, and run like? Before the era of computer-assisted design and cutting technologies with nanometre precision, designing a calibre from the ground up was a complicated enough task already. However, crafting one with a chronograph function was much more of a hassle, and very expensive to boot. Consequently, few brands took up the challenge of building their own calibres, to try to outsmart the competition. Some succeeded better than others. Here are five worth mentioning.
1. Excelsior Park This company was founded in 1866, in the small town of Saint-Imier in the Bernese Jura, also known as the birthplace of Longines, Breitling and Heuer. At the end of the 19th century, the company added some modifications to the chronograph calibre invented by Alfred Lugin, the founder of Lemania, which increased its credibility in the marketplace and led to its later becoming one of the leaders in terms of sports timekeepers and chronographs during the first half of the 20th century. Every sport had its own dedicated timer: rugby, water-polo, football, basketball and even boxing. In 1918, Jeanneret-Brehm et Cie, which had previously produced watches and movements under different names and companies, finally became Excelsior Park. The list of different types of chronographs and sports timekeepers is long, so let’s focus on a specific calibre, developed in 1938: the 12/13, later known as the calibre 4 family. Produced in mono- or double-pusher configurations, the chronograph was sold under the name
A Girard-Perregaux chronograph that used the Excelsior Park calibre 4 The strangely shaped Excelsior Park calibre 42 (www.cliniquehorlogere.ch)
Excelsior Park but was also supplied to other watch companies such as Gallet & Co, Zenith and Girard-Perregaux. The movement family offered a 30-minute or 40-minute counter, and came with the option of a 12-hour counter. The calibre 4 series were nicely built and well-finished column wheel chronograph movements, easily recognisable by their sculpted bridge. A particularly intriguing feature of the calibre 42 was its unusual shape. Most chronograph calibres are round, but this one had an oval design, forcing the watch case to match its shape, a feature exclusive to Excelsior Park. The brand unfortunately disappeared in 1984, and it’s now the perfect example of a brand that deserves a renaissance. Today, you can find decent examples of Excelsior Park branded chronographs starting at 1,500 CHF, climbing to 10,000 CHF for a rarer reference.
2. Angelus In 1891, three pious brothers founded Angelus in the watchmaking hotbed of Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel. Their ambition for Angelus was to make it a high-end watchmaking specialist. Accordingly, Angelus issued several patents for pocket chronographs, repeaters and alarms. In 1925, their first wristwatch chronograph was launched. The monopusher chronograph borrowed the VZ calibre, a reliable and technologically advanced movement, from movement manufacturer Valjoux.
In parallel, the company developed its own in-house chronograph movement, the calibre 210. The company rapidly started partnering up with other watch manufacturers, including Zodiac, with whom they created the smallest 8-day watch movement, and Panerai, which borrowed several Angelus movements. Let’s focus on a specific calibre, the Angelus SF 217, an in-house chronograph movement that was used and designed for the Chronodato models. Issued in the midst of WW2 (1942), the Chronodato was the first chronograph featuring a full calendar, in other words displaying the day, the date and the month. The watch became a bestseller in Switzerland and Angelus capitalised quickly on this success by advertising it as the centrepiece of their collection. With a lifespan of more than 10 years, the Chronodato family was issued with various styles of dials, cases and case materials. The layout of the dial was smart and elegant: the day was displayed in a small aperture just above the 6; the month was symmetrically located just under the 12, and finally the date was subtly revealed around the periphery of the dial in a clockwise manner by a red arrow hand. The 17-jewel column wheel calibre was one of the most complicated chronographs out there, bringing the brand credibility and fame, and forcing Valjoux to react quickly to come up with the Valjoux 72 C calibre a few years after the SF 217. The brand then updated the SF 217 with the equally beautiful Chrono-Datoluxe, adding a moon phase complication and removing the day aperture. Nevertheless, the competition was now ready and well-equipped, and the model wasn’t as successful as its predecessor.
The Angelus Chronodato and the 217 calibre (www.cliniquehorlogere.ch)
Like Excelsior Park, Angelus wasn’t able to survive the massive hit of the quartz crisis, and disappeared in the 1970s. Relaunched recently with a different philosophy and a modern approach, the brand is now competing in the niche market of ultra-complicated watches. Being complex to maintain and unique in their layout and design, Chronodato chronographs are today hard to repair, as parts are becoming scarce. Their poor resistance to dust and humidity, due to the pushers used to operate the calendar, make it particularly difficult to find them in mint condition. However, you can still come across decent examples between 2,500 CHF and 4,000 CHF, a relatively interesting price if you take into consideration the history of the brand and the complexity of the calibre.
3. Minerva A small town called Villeret in the Bernese Jura, not far from the major horological centre of St-Imier, is where the brand Minerva was established. Founded in 1858 by two brothers, the company was initially named “H. & C. Robert”. In the 20th century, after changing the name of the company several times, the establishment slowly started to be recognised for its work, and particularly for its movements. Like Excelsior Park, the company began to forge links with the sports timekeeping world, consequently shifting its production towards sports stopwatches and chronographs. In fact, the Villeret-based manufacture was among the first companies to dive into the chronograph market. 120
In 1908, the calibre 9-CH, their first pocket chronograph, was invented – the precursor of what would become Minerva’s core identity and pride, the CH family. In parallel, the company also understood at an early stage that wristwatches would become the future of watchmaking and was among the first companies to make and sell their own variants. With the higher purchasing power of the 1930s, which resulted in a democratisation of watches, a large part of the watch industry shifted its focus towards sport watches and therefore chronographs, which afforded the company greater credibility and legitimacy. This strategy resulted in Minerva being awarded the title of official timing partner of the Olympic Games of GarmischPartenkirchen in 1936. At that time, the company was among the few brands that were producing their own chronograph calibres. But let’s focus on one in particular, the 13-20 CH. It is recognised among collectors as one of the most beautiful in-house movements ever produced, right behind Longines’ top-of-the-line calibres. Initially designed as a column wheel mono-pusher chronograph, the calibre was subsequently improved into a doublepusher and was used in waterproof cases. From the outside, the rather simple two-register layout belies the undeniably beautiful internal organs hidden inside the timepiece. On a more technical note, the clutch module is divided into two pieces, a rarity that is somewhat reminiscent of the Longines 13ZN calibre.
Minerva 13-20 CH calibre (www.cliniquehorlogere.ch)
Furthermore, there is no stopper/brake, which means that the hammer can only be rearmed during the resetting phase, rather than during the starting phase. Again, a rare intricacy that makes the 13-20CH an intriguing and uniquely designed piece. Still relatively underrated on the vintage market, these Minerva calibres are gaining visibility due to their modern and rather confusing affiliation with Montblanc’s high-end timepieces, and also to their appearance at recent auction sales. The 13-20 CH is a beautifully designed movement that perfectly represents the dedication, attention to detail and creativity of watchmakers from the first half of the 20th century.
Everything started in 1881 with a 19-year-old watchmaker in La Chaux-de-Fonds who built his own watch movement from scratch, and developed a pocket watch workshop. The company took the name Movado 24 years later, a name signifying “continuous movement” in the international language Esperanto. The brand rapidly became famous for developing its own calibres as well as for their rather innovative and creative thinking in terms of concept and design. Movado manufactured ingenious watches such as the Plypan back in 1912, and the famous Ermeto, which were both stunning and original in their conception and layout. But let’s focus on the chronographs, and especially on the calibre 90M and its triple-register variant, the 95M. Developed in 1936 in collaboration with Louis-Elisée Piguet, the 90M calibre was launched two years later in 1938 (1939 for the 95M). The first intriguing thing you notice when you operate a Movado 90M is that the pushers function in the opposite way to the great majority of chronographs. In fact, the start/stop pusher is at 4 o’clock, while the one used to reset the chronograph is at 2, a small and quirky difference that makes the 90M calibres charming timepieces. Technically, the movement compares with the best chronograph calibres of that era. However, it is strikingly different in its design. First of all, where is the balance
Movado 90 calibre (www.cliniquehorlogere.ch)
Movado 95 M with a Francois Borgel case (www.ssongwatches.com)
Pierce 130 calibre
wheel? And what is that funny-looking bridge? In fact, the 90M and 95M are modular chronographs, meaning that the engine is actually on the dial side and hidden at first glance. The chronograph function is a module that sits on top of a more basic watch movement. Movado liked to say that these chronographs were actually the easiest to service due to their architecture. Whether that is true or not, the unusual design gives this chronograph family a refreshing look that definitely makes these calibres a real find on the vintage market. Finally, there is the elegant yet intriguing design characterised by the snake-style minute hand. Proof, again, that Movado was committed to the idea of making things differently from the rest of the competition. For that alone, they deserve greater recognition.
5. Pierce In 1883 the Lévy brothers created “Léon Lévy Frères Manufactures des Montres et Chronographes Pierce SA” in the bilingual city of Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. Fast forward twenty-seven years and, in 1910, 1,500 of the town’s 24,000 inhabitants were employees of the company. Clearly, Pierce was already a big player in the industry. During the 1920s, Léon Lévy was approached by Ebauches S.A, who wanted Pierce to join the consortium. Léon, however, had a completely different direction in mind for his brand, and he refused the offer, allowing him to stay independent. This independence came at a cost: blacklisted by all the suppliers, Pierce couldn’t borrow or use pieces from the consortium companies, forcing the brand to come up with and develop their own manufacture calibres. As a result, Pierce invented more than 30 different calibres throughout the company’s history, two of them being chronograph movements. 122
Early monopusher Pierce with the 130 calibre - 1930
By the mid-1930s, Léon felt the need to create an affordable chronograph for the masses, a particularly difficult mission considering the price of these complications at that time. Starting from scratch, he designed a movement (Calibre 130) built around a central wheel, enabling him to get rid of many springs and levers and consequently cut costs. Léon also invented a vertical friction clutch to engage the chronograph. Although frequently used in the watch industry today, it was a first at that time. However, this strange yet ingenious architecture forced him to place the two registers in a 12 and 6 o’clock position, creating a rather unusual dial layout. The first watch sold with this calibre was launched in 1936 and became an instant success. In 1939 a two-pusher version came out and, a few years later, it became the official watch of Trans Caribbean Airlines pilots. After that, the British Royal Airforce placed an order for fighter pilots and other aviation personnel. At a certain point, the company decided to use plastic for the central wheel. Although hyped as a revolutionary material back in the day, it was mostly a way for the company to get cheaper parts. That decision is today considered a mistake, as the plastic weakened the entire movement and sometimes led to the destruction of the wheel itself. For watchmakers, it was a nightmare to repair; for collectors, it became the perfect watch to bully. Sure, the calibre 130 wasn’t built with the standards and materials reserved for high-end chronographs, but it nonetheless helped to introduce this renowned complication to a wider customer base. Technically interesting and innovative in many ways, these Pierce chronographs can be found at really attractive prices. Just bear in mind that your local watchmaker may not necessarily agree to work on them.
SIX DECADES OF WATCH ARCHIVES EUROPA STAR OFFER
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F.P.JOURNE - Invenit et Fecit by Jean-Pierre Grosz The fascinating book that recounts the legend of François-Paul Journe has finally been released. Over 360 pages, the author relates his childhood as an enfant terrible in Marseille; his wild adolescent friendships, his joys and indiscretions; his hopes and doubts for his future; and, finally, the revelation of the world of watchmaking – a universe that was to become his vocation and would open up wonderful new horizons. The author narrates François-Paul’s research on precision; his love of creating, constructing, and innovating; his successes and victories; but also his doubts, frustrations and rebellions; the events that made him what he is today, why he practises his particular style of watchmaking, which collectors so admire. He writes about his constant search for perfection, from the niche he has constructed for himself, little by little, and with great dedication, to the brilliant watchmaker-constructor he has become; about his talent recognised by his peers and rewarded by countless international prizes, and about his deep need for independence. An instinctive creator who constantly strives for excellence, François-Paul always avoids banality and facility; banality is deadly. He also writes about his distinctive approach that favours quality over quantity, and explains how he transformed his watches into works of art that sublimate the wrists of their wearers. The book F.P.Journe - Invenit et Fecit will give you many delightful hours as you learn all about the unique trajectory of François-Paul Journe. 360 pages | CHF 230 124
ROLEX 1905-1960 by Marco Strazzi This book focuses on the first half-century of the company – the years that shaped its identity and paved the way to worldwide success. Each chapter opens with a timeline of the remarkable events that took place in the relevant period. This is followed by table of the movements introduced in the same years. Then come the watches along with plenty of pictures, articles outlining their history, and technical data. Given Rolex's considerable investment in advertising, several pages are devoted to ads and comments on their contents. Innovation gets the space it deserves through an overview of patents granted to the company. The company's significant media presence is not limited to advertisements – the trade press has frequently featured reports about Rolex, and the company itself has published a number of booklets and brochures about its achievements. These are found at the end of most sections. English - Italian | 358 pages | CHF 190
Sandro Frantini represents the second generation of the famous Frantini family of entrepreneurs, who founded the internationally renowned Italian Rifle jeans brand in 1958. This book is about Sandro Frantini’s personal watch collection and his passion for it. The 688-page large format Ultimate reference book has been produced with the great care that is an appropriate to its exceptional photographic content; it will reveal to the public a watch collection that has never been seen before. This book reveals examples of celebrated vintage Patek Phlippe and Rolex wristwatches, many of the unique pieces unknown to the collection community. In addition, a fine selection of mid-century Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and Cartier watches are lavishly illustrated in this massive book. Only a privileged few have seen these watches before and now the public has the opportunity to study, admire, and compare many of the most important watches ever made. 650 illustrations | 688 pages | CHF 838
Available at www.watchprint.com
SENTENCE BY D. MALCOLM LAKIN
any years ago, I used to telephone my father every Friday afternoon at three o’clock. We’d arranged that day and time because by the end of the week we usually had something to talk about, he would have finished studying the form of racehorses and placed his bet with the local bookmaker and I would have finished writing about jewellery because that’s what I did back then. One Friday I had someone in the office selecting photographs from a shoot when my father decided to call me. I apologised to my visitor and began our weekly chat. My father had been slowly losing his hearing but that day he seems to have had great difficulty in understanding certain words. That was when I made things worse by spelling the words he couldn’t hear. The problem then of course was that in spelling out the word he couldn’t differentiate some of the letters, a T for a D for example. Much to my regret I then said D as in Donald and then had to spell out Donald, and by the time I’d done that I’d lost track of what I was trying to tell him. My visitor was in hysterics and needless to say I started laughing and my father didn’t see the funny side so we said goodbye rather abruptly. If you read the highly entertaining book Deaf Sentence by David Lodge, in it his hero goes through similar and other more complicated situations. My reason for telling you this is that the wheel has now come full circle. Some time ago, my youngest daughter suddenly asked me why my wristwatch was ticking so loudly. I’d heard nothing and when I put it to my ear sure enough there was a very distant tick-tock from its mechanical movement. Trying to cover up my hearing problem I launched into an horological explanation about the difference between a mechanical and a quartz watch.
Some months later, I am the proud owner of a very modern hearing aid that is cleverly concealed by my sideburns. My mobile telephone now rings directly in my ears and I can watch the television without turning the volume up to a deafening pitch, since I get the sound directly via its bluetooth link. My neighbours have yet to thank me. There are dozens of jokes about hearing problems, such as the classic, “It’s windy today.” “No it’s not, it’s Thursday.” “Me too, let’s go to the pub.” My favourite, however, is about a man who goes to the family doctor to ask what he should do about his wife’s hearing, since he constantly has to repeat things to her. To assess her problem, the doctor suggests he speaks to her from another room and keeps repeating it as he gets closer until finally she answers him. That evening whilst his wife is in the kitchen and he is in the living room, he calls out “What’s for dinner?” He moves closer and repeats the question three more times until he’s finally standing at the door of the kitchen where he once again asks “What’s for dinner?” She looks at him and snarls, “For the fifth bloody time, chicken casserole!” Have a Happy and Healthy New Year, and if I don’t hear from you I’ll assume the battery needs changing in my state-of-the-art hearing aid.
DIGITAL VS ANALOGUE
BY JILL METCALFE
or the past couple of decades, “digital” has been one of those eternally useful buzzwords that people can throw around if they want to add a glow of contemporary cool to, well, more or less anything. A bit like “nylon” in the 60s or “plastic” in the 70s. In the early days, it was frequently contrasted with “analogue” (or “analog” to our American friends), which became synonymous with old and crusty, inefficient and pedestrian. But in reality, they are no more opposites than dog is the opposite of cat. My younger brother got his first digital watch (or “didge”, as we liked to call them, no doubt to suggest greater familiarity with this wondrous technology than we actually possessed) sometime in the 1970s. I can’t remember the make, but whatever it was, it made my homely Timex with its round face and twirling hands look hopelessly old-fashioned. My dad, with all the world-weary wisdom of his 30 years, sadly declared that analogue watches, despite their superior aesthetic appeal, were doomed. The word “digital” is clearly related to the word “digit”, which most people would recognise as meaning either a number, or a finger or toe (which is what digitus means in Latin). More precisely, a digit in mathematics refers to a single numeral, which may be combined with other numerals to make larger (or smaller) numbers, just as fingers and toes can be pressed into service to help with simple arithmetic. These days, “digital” is closely associated with “technology”, probably because of our computers’ reliance on binary code, which with the help of just two digits – zero and one – can accomplish anything from broadcasting cat videos to landing probes on Mars. (In fact, the zero was not widely accepted until the 9th century, and Arabic numerals were not commonly used in Europe before the 16th century). At the risk of getting a bit technical, analogue (from the Greek ana-logos, meaning proportion or ratio) is a
way of encoding signals from the environment along a spectrum with a potentially infinite number of points (so the representation is analogous to the thing it’s representing). A digital signal, on the other hand, samples a limited number of points along that spectrum. So an analogue representation has the potential to provide far greater fidelity to the original – whether that’s a photo of an Alpine scene or a recording of a Lady Gaga concert – than digital, and that’s pretty cool if you think about it. The word “analogue” is still used as a shortcut for “notdigital”, but here in the improbable year of 2019 “notdigital” carries a different cultural meaning. Digital has become such an inescapable part of our lives that, while its magical halo may have dimmed, it is accepted as part of the grubby, deceitful and increasingly threadbare fabric of existence. And “analogue” stands apart from that. It’s real and authentic. It’s vinyl, it’s 35mm. What you see is what you get. It’s kind of vintage, and it’s cool again. 127
INDEX Alpina 42, 60, 61 Angelus 119, 120 Anonimo 56 Apple 49, 60, 111, 130 Audemars Piguet 78, 79, 80, 89, 92, 97, 124 Baselworld COVER III, 42 Bastian Antoni 67 Baume & Mercier 8, 22, 23, 36, 37, 38, 64, 106, 109, 117 Baume Watches 106, 107, 108, 109 Bell & Ross 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 113 Breguet 99 Breitling 50, 96 Bulgari 21, 80, 82 Calvin Klein 22, 23, 44, 45, 46, 59 Carl F. Bucherer 9 Cartier 79, 96, 124 Casio 47, 51 Chanel COVER I, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 29, 31 Chopard 81 Chronoswiss 102, 104 Citizen 41 Emile Chouriet 67
Ernst Benz 96 ETA 34, 37, 118 Eterna 59 Excelsior Park 118, 119 Fabergé 96 Fendi 96 Ferdinand Berthoud 80 F.P.Journe 50, 124 Franck Muller 79 Frédérique Constant 22, 23, 40, 41, 42, 96 Girard-Perregaux 78 GPHG 13, 14, 18, 53 Greubel Forsey 92 Gucci 55 Gvchiani 102, 103, 104 Hamilton 99 Hermès 26, 60, 130 Hublot 78, 80, 84, 87, 102, 105 Ikepod 62 Inhorgenta 129 IWC 50, 84 Jaeger-LeCoultre 8, 37, 50, 117 Jean Marcel 74, 75 Junghans 63 Klokers 63 Le Rhöne 79 Longines 4, 5, 50
Louis Erard 87 Louis Moinet 87 Louis Vuitton 26, 64 LVMH 80, 87 Maurice Lacroix 42 Mauron Musy 27, 114, 115 MB&F 50, 78, 96 Michel Herbelin 67 Mido 58, 82 Minerva 120, 121 Montblanc 8, 79, 82 Montfort 66 Movado 121, 122 Nomos 63 Ochs und Junior 64 Omega 50, 79, 84, 92, 96, 112 Oris 56 Panerai 84 Parmigiani 79 Patek Philippe COVER IV, 19, 20, 48, 49, 50, 79, 82, 92, 111, 124 Phillips 22, 23, 48, 49, 50 Pierce 122 Rado 22, 23, 32, 33, 34, 35 Ralph Lauren 55 Raymond Weil 42, 96 Rebellion 79
Richard Mille 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 97 Richemont 8, 37, 87, 97, 106, 107, 108, 109 RJ Watches 78, 80, 82 Rolex COVER II, 3, 19, 20, 48, 49, 50, 79, 82, 89, 92, 96, 101, 111, 124 Seiko 65 Sellita 37 Sercab 125 Seven Friday 87 Shinola 54 SIHH 8, 24, 25, 26, 78 Stoic 96 Swatch 44, 52 Swatch Group 33, 45, 82 TAG Heuer 11, 50, 60, 72, 73, 78, 80, 82, 87, 96 Timex 55 Tissot 50, 56, 57, 89 Titoni 39 Traser 43 Ulysse Nardin 84, 87, 92 Urban Jürgensen 70, 71 Urwerk 68, 69 Vacheron Constantin 37, 50, 84, 124 Watches & Wonders 83 Zenith 50, 80, 96 ZRC 59
THE WORLD OF WATCHES
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A last word to start
WATCH AS WEAPON BY PIERRE MAILLARD
n 1963 Georges Caspari, a PR consultant who was well known at the time, wrote in Europa Star: “The diving watch, with its complicated dials, the impressively chunky sports watch, and the chronograph, gives its owner the kind of assurance that possession of a weapon sometimes grants. He will probably never use it, but the fact of knowing it’s there persuades the wearer that he is tough, that he has nothing to fear. Thus – and this bears repeating – young people must be given creations that seem irrational to the understanding of men of a different generation. Let’s not think like adults, but like adolescents. The ‘dad’s watch’, the watch bought for a son’s or daughter’s first communion, to be cherished for the rest of their lives, is dead!” This statement was part of a vast campaign being waged, with the backing of the Fédération Horlogère (FH), in support of the return of the chronograph. The chronograph enjoyed its time in the sun from the end of the 1940s to the mid-’50s, before falling out of favour. At the beginning of the ’60s, classicism and conservatism had the upper hand. It was a time of adulthood and elegance. But there came a groundswell of renewed demand for chronographs – from “adolescents”, as Caspari called them. From the youngsters who danced the twist, who raced Vespas, who loved speed and records – in short, the up-andcoming generation of Baby Boomers with their new-found prosperity. We know what happened next: chronographs and sports watches reached a pinnacle of popularity, where they have remained ever since. Older models now fetch astronomical figures at auction, and new models remain the bread and butter of the industry. It pays to keep an eye on the youngsters. What is today’s equivalent “weapon”? Something that confers status? A watch that would “seem irrational to the understanding of men of a different generation,” as Caspari put it? The smartwatch? We know that the vast majority of people who wear chronographs hardly ever use them. What about smartwatches? It’s very hard to find any statistics on the subject. Over and above their multiple functions, of which telling the time is one of the lowliest and most pedestrian, could it be that their attraction is also, perThe title sa haps primarily, as a status symbol? Are they the modern equivalent of the “weapFor the youn ys: gsters, ons” Caspari spoke of, little used but reassuring on the wrist, convincing their the chronogr aph wearer that they too are relevant, important? is an instrum ent But there’s one problem: the smartwatch has no real identity of its own. Its face as well as… is a rather dead-looking slab of black glass. Attempts to transform this tool into an object of pleasure, such as Apple’s decision to wrap it in Hermès leather, are all so many bids to give it what it lacks: warmth, a relationship, a personality. A sound, a presence. All the things that make a watch such a personal object. The fact that the vintage wave, which also arose from the younger generation, places a higher value on personality and authenticity than on function and utility, is a salutary reminder. So, is dad’s watch dead? Not necessarily. It’s reassuring. It’s still a “weapon”.