Chronoswiss Sale Forecasts Bright Future for Fine Mechanical Timepieces

by John Sealander  

Chronoswiss WatchesThe mechanical timepiece has been declared dead many times already. Somehow, despite countless “revolutions” in the watch world, these finely crafted mechanical marvels continue to survive and even thrive. Gerd-Rüdiger Lang Who Founded Chronoswiss in 1983One of the reasons that the old world craftsmanship associated with the watchmaker’s art has experienced a renaissance in recent years are men like Gerd-Rüdiger Lang.

When Lang founded Chronoswiss in 1983, he made a commitment to making extraordinary mechanical timepieces. Although this small German company only produced about 7,000 watches a year, the company quickly gained respect among collectors and among its horological peers. Chronoswiss watches became known among watch connoisseurs around the world for their exquisitely detailed craftsmanship and innovative design.

When Lang, who is now 69 years old, announced his retirement, many feared for the future of this fine company. In today’s fragile economy, there are many who no longer appreciate the value of tradition and fine craftsmanship. Luckily, wiser minds prevailed and on January 30, 2012, Chronoswiss was sold to a Swiss entrepreneurial family who will continue the 29-year Chronoswiss tradition of manufacturing fine mechanical watches at a new, well-equipped factory in Switzerland.

Watch Industry Insider Samuel FriedmannAccording to watch industry insider Samuel Friedmann, this sale is good for the entire industry. Mr. Friedmann, who also made it possible for another historic brand to survive when he acquired Gevril Horlogerie in 2001, sees the Chronoswiss acquisition as an affirmation of the continuing demand for finely crafted timepieces.

“There is no substitute for quality,” says Friedmann. “Watchmaking is an art, and companies like Chronoswiss are bringing an appreciation for fine mechanical timepieces to a whole new generation of watch connoisseurs.”

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, although retiring from watchmaking himself, is excited about the sale of the company he created and the new opportunities it represents. To Lang, the transition of Chronoswiss to a new team of watchmakers, working in expanded and greatly enhanced facilities, will be the culmination of a dream. With this sale, Lang’s ongoing commitment to making extraordinary timepieces can finally reach its full potential.

Chronoswiss is distributed in the United States by Chronoswiss of North America.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, directed by company founder and long-time creative force in the watch business Samuel Friedmann, is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sporty timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Gevril Group is a regular participant at Baselworld and will be available at Baselworld 2012 to familiarize you with our many watch brands exhibiting at the show. You can email us or call 845-425-9882.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.

Fossil Buys Skagen Designs


by John Sealander  

Exciting New Fossil Formation Found in Denmark

Fossil WatchesRichardson, Texas based Fossil, Inc. announced on January 10, 2012 that it plans to purchase privately-held fashion watchmaker Skagen Designs for $236.8 million in a cash and stock deal. Skagen, established in the 1980’s to sell fashion watches at reasonable prices, has become an international success by capitalizing on a new generation’s growing fascination with good design and clean, minimal styles. In a world where styles are being set by objects like the iPhone and personalities like Lady GaGa, “modern” is in.

According to Fossil chief executive Kosta Kartsotis, Skagen’s clean, modern styles “have enormous potential as a lifestyle brand.” The Skagen acquisition will give Fossil, which has its roots in vintage American style, a much broader base and will help to build up its wholesale and retail distribution chain. Fossil’s last big acquisition was in 2004, when the company bought luxury watchmaker Michele.

Johan Eric WatchesWatch industry insider and owner of the contemporary Johan Eric brand, Samuel Friedmann, sees even broader implications for Fossil’s purchase of the Skagen brand. According to Friedmann, the purchase is an affirmation of the growing importance of contemporary design in the world of fashion. Modern styles used to be a small niche market in the historically traditional watch industry, but these clean, minimal designs are now attracting a much wider audience.

Skagen WatchesSkagen watches are currently available at quality retailers like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and many smaller stores, as well. Add a dozen Skagen company-owned stores, along with over 400 Fossil stores worldwide and the potential is not just good for the brand; it is good for the entire contemporary fashion category.

Samuel Friedmann, Owner and President of Gevril GroupSamuel Friedmann expects contemporary brands like Skagen and Johan Eric to capture even wider market share in the years ahead.

“Design esthetics are changing,” he says, “and it’s important for watch manufacturers to keep up with what is trending and be able to offer customers what they want. Fossil’s purchase of Skagen is not only good for Fossil; it is good for the industry and even more importantly; it is good for customers.”

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, directed by company founder and long-time creative force in the watch business Samuel Friedmann, is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Additionally, Gevril Group operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Gevril Group is a regular participant at Baselworld and will be available at Baselworld 2012 to familiarize you with our many watch brands that will exhibit at the show. You can email us or call 845-425-9882.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Comments are welcome.

Choices Ahead for Tiffany Following Breakup with Swatch Group


by John Sealander  

Watch Industry Consolidation Continues As 20-Year Partnership Ends

Tiffany & Co.When the giant Swatch Group Ltd. broke off a 20-year partnership with Tiffany & Co. to produce Tiffany branded watches, it was one more sign of growing consolidation in the watch industry. It is well known within the industry that many luxury brands, such as Tiffany & Co. do not manufacture their own watches internally. Instead, they rely on manufactures like the Swatch Group to create and produce their watches for them.

Now that the Swatch Group is ending it’s agreement to supply watches to Tiffany & Co., the luxury retailer will be forced to find a new supplier, presumably one that doesn’t rely on movements made by Swatch-owned ETA. This will not be as easy as it once might have been, since fewer and fewer of the world’s leading brands still have the capacity to manufacture their own watch movements.

Tiffany will also need to decide whether to continue licensing their name to a company with distribution capabilities like Timex Group or Gevril Group, or to enter the watch business and take the distribution of their products into their own hands. Either way, they will need to find a company that can manufacture complete watch movements. There are very few watch companies in the entire world that still make watch movements. A few well-known names like Rolex, Eterna and Gevril still manufacture their own mechanical movements, but increasingly watch movements are being manufactured by companies like ETA SA, Miyota and Sellita, who make movements for many brands.

It will be interesting to see where Tiffany & Co. turns to for support in the years ahead. It is rumored that the Swatch Group is looking to add luxury jeweler Harry Winston to its growing list of luxury brands. To stay competitive, Tiffany & Co. will need to establish a relationship with a new supplier who can deliver the product quality, design expertise and marketing capability that the well known brand demands. Will they go with a Chinese supplier like many fashion brands are currently doing, or will they stick with a supplier who can supply genuine “Swiss Made” movements?

Samuel Friedmann, Owner and President of Gevril WatchesAccording to Gevril Group owner Samuel Friedmann, “there is a company that can manufacture watches in-house and that will be able to meet Tiffany & Co.’s high standards for quality and design excellence.

“That company would make a perfect partner for Tiffany & Co., whether Tiffany chooses to license its name or to take over its own distribution.”

You and I can probably guess which company Mr. Friedmann is referring to.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for well over thirty select watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sporty timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril maintains a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. You can email us or call 845-425-9882.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog summary.

Comments are welcome.

Acquisition of Sowind Group by PPR Creates Huge Opportunities for Both PPR and Sowind Group


by John Sealander  

PPR Luxury GroupWhen luxury goods powerhouse PPR acquired a controlling stake in Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, Sowind Group, it confirmed a growing trend of consolidation within the luxury watch segment. PPR, the parent company of the popular high-end Gucci brand, already controlled 23% of Sowind before it’s recent acquisition. Now, with a 50.1% stake, it controls the prestigious Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard brands as well.

Even more importantly, PPR now has its own manufacturer of high-end watch movements. François-Henri Pinault, the Chief Executive of PPR, has indicated that he sees enormous potential in prestigious brands like Girard-Perregaux, since they will give PPR an even stronger presence in the luxury watch market.

In a similar move, PPR rival LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton and Hublot, recently took control of luxury watch manufacturer La Fabrique du Temps. Even independent watchmakers like Patek Philippe and Rolex have stepped up their investments in watch production and parts suppliers in recent years.

Samuel Friedmann, Owner and President of Gevril WatchesSamuel Friedmann, owner of The Gevril Group, speculates that this move towards consolidation in the luxury watch segment is fueled by the Swatch Group’s repeated threats to stop supplying parts and movements to rivals. It has become increasingly important for all luxury brands to have their own manufacturing capability. Friedmann’s own high-end Gevril watch brand has always had the capability to manufacture it’s own movements and this was an important consideration when he initially bought the company in 2000.

Eterna Watches. Nothing by Watchmaking. Since 1856.The Gevril Group’s own Eterna brand was also recently acquired by International Volant Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Haidian Holdings. Again, the new parent company gets access to 150 years of Swiss watchmaking expertise, while Eterna gets access to new and better manufacturing methods, along with an opportunity to market their products to a much wider audience.

Luxury watch manufacturers have been enjoying a strong rebound in sales in recent years. Swiss watch exports are up 20% this year, largely fueled by increased demand from the growing Chinese market. This demand for luxury has created a win-win situation companies like PPR and Sowind Group who choose to consolidate. According to Mr. Friedman, Sowind Group brands will get a big boost in international markets form PPR’s worldwide distribution network and PPR will gain the capacity to manufacture 15,000 additional high-end watches annually.

Small boutique brands have never been able to reach a wide audience. By combining marketing power with manufacturing excellence, brand consolidation allows a wider audience than ever before to enjoy the pleasures of owning a luxury watch.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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