This German family-owned brand can rely on its vertical counters and its ultra-thin collection to attract new customers. Indeed, it plans to enhance its international reputation. Meet the founder Jürgen Kuhn.
- Jürgen Kuhn - Photo: Carlo Fachini
Contrary to what its name might suggest, the Jean Marcel brand is actually German, more precisely from Baden-Baden in the south. Launched in 1981 by Jürgen Kuhn (and named after an employee originally from French-speaking Switzerland!), it is now run by the founder and his son, Marcel. “We come from a family of Pforzheim watchmakers and my son, who is in charge of business development, is the fourth Kuhn generation in the watch industry,” proudly explains Jürgen Kuhn. Jean Marcel can rely on the strength of the German market, as domestic sales now represent 80% of its turnover. The brand is, however, Swiss-made: “We assemble our watches in Switzerland with partners, for a total production of about 3,000 watches a year (80% automatic and 20% quartz). Without exception we are using ETA automatic movements for our mechanical collection.”
- JM MYSTERY EFFECT
Jean Marcel’s watches incorporate a feature that make them recognisable at first glance: the vertical configuration of the counters and the date on the dial — a registered innovation named “Vertical Limit.” Another special, unprecedented feature: by blowing on the sapphire crystal, the condensation of your breath enables you to see the brand logo on the crystal. This is Jean Marcel’s secret signature, a magic created by temperature differences!
“My goal is to design beautiful watches with real added value. The spirit of our creation is a combination of technical competence — which is not enough in itself — with an aesthetic design that arouses desire. Our ambition is not to make more watches but to develop even more exciting and innovative quality watches.” All Jean Marcel watches are marketed in limited editions of 300 pieces.
Jean Marcel recently launched a new modern, sporty collection called Mythos, with carbon inserts on the case sides and some highly distinctive top-quality Valjoux chronographs. Nano, an ultra-thin model under the symbolic 4 mm (3.9 mm) limit, is lightweight with a sapphire crystal. “We get our ultra-thin movements from Isa. Moreover, I was inspired by the feeling you experience when you open the packaging of a new smart phone, to design a special, delicate, intriguing case for this watch.” This fall, Jean Marcel will finally be launching his first women’s collection under the name Émotion. There are round and square models featuring moon phases and mother-of-pearl components, but also sporty and classic models, as in all the company’s collections, which offer many variations.
While the brand has recently focused on the German market, it now seeks to expand internationally. “Ten years ago, we registered good results in the United States and the Middle East, but our partners have changed their management and we unfortunately lost our privileged relations on these markets. It is difficult to find good distributors but these are definitely two priority markets to develop.”
As with other watch brands, the economic situation has not been easy lately. “But 2015 was a good year for us, thanks to the strength of the German market! On the other hand, many companies have excessive stocks and do not know what to do with them. This is fortunately not our case because the sell-out is good. We are constantly investing in new collections and are continuously growing step by step.”