The heart-warming story of Europa Star


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February 2007

The Swiss Made label in watchmaking has been the source of all sorts of uses and abuses.

Europa Star’s founder and the current Managing Directorfreely

lthough a law as to what is and what isn’t considered as Swiss Made has existed since William Tell’s Overture, the watch industry didn’t get around to creating a vague definition until December 23, 1971. This was modified by an Ordinance dated May 27, 1992 that slightly tightened the previous regulations by stipulating, more or less, that at least 50% of the total value of the movement’s components are of Swiss manufacture, leaving enough leeway for manufacturers to produce quite a few essential bits and pieces in lower cost countries. So, like it or not, many of our so-called Swiss watches may well be bastards, just like a few bosses I could name, but that’s another story.

Unlike many watches, however, the magazine you have in your hands at this very moment is, without question, 100% Swiss Made. Europa Star is eighty years old this year, that’s right, eight zero – eighty, and its remarkable achievement of being the world’s most influential watch magazine didn’t happen by chance, it happened because its founder was a chauvinistic xenophile. Let me explain.

Hugo Buchser, Europa Star’s founder who was as Swiss as birchermüesli, decided in 1927 to enter into the publishing world. With his love of foreign parts and their populace along with everything Swiss, he travelled the world spreading the horological gospel at a time when the total Swiss watch exports were about the same as the price at auction today of a 1930s Patek Philippe.

Between his travels to South America, India and the Far East, Hugo found the time to marry a very Swiss miss called Mary Studeli of the Roamer watch company (Meyer & Studeli) and then between slow boats to China, bubbling fondues and a good Swiss white wine in Geneva, enlarged the family with three daughters – Doris, Suzy and Lisbeth.

By the time the three girls reached the age of consent – and therefore betrothal – our autocratic Hugo insisted that their fiancés all work at Europa Star. As is so often the case, marriage followed their feeble fumblings, with Suzy marrying an Italian, Lisbeth saying ‘yes’ to a German and dear Doris saving face by marrying in 1952 a young Swiss gentleman who answered to the name of Gilbert Maillard.
Forever the chauvinistic autocrat, Hugo immediately made Gilbert the Managing Director of Europa Star since he was the only Swiss male within the family. He then fired the two other ‘foreign’ husbands.

Gilbert and Doris Maillard, following nature’s flights of fancy, begat Pierre in 1954, Philippe in 1956 and Anne-Laure in 1959. Pierre married Desirée, an Italian, Anne-Laure married Athanase, a Greek and Phillipe, in his infinite wisdom married Annelies, a Swiss Romanche-speaking miss (a gift bestowed upon only 1% of Swiss) from the Canton of Grisons.

As Philippe Maillard explains, “Pierre was the intelligent one, but he married an Italian. I married a Swiss girl so I was consequently made Managing Director. My father became President and Pierre was made Editor-in-Chief. Basically, the rite of passage to becoming Managing Director of Europa Star is dependent upon who is the most Swiss within the family’s entourage.”

Philippe Maillard has two sons, Serge (21) and Luca (19), but it’s unsure they will take over Europa Star since not only are both boys too tall to get their legs under their dad’s desk, but also their current girlfriends have some unidentified alien DNA in their make-up box.

Europa Star is a Swiss magazine and has always been run by a Swiss national. It is designed in our Swiss offices, printed by Kundig, one of Geneva’s finest printers that just happens to be owned by a Swiss from Fribourg, bound by Mayer & Souter another very Swiss company and finally mailed to subscribers via the highly efficient Swiss Postal services. (In order to make the various language editions of the magazine comprehensible, most of the ‘foreign’ workers being thoroughly exploited are Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Polish, Russian, Spanish and American.)

As you can see Europa Star is as Swiss as a schüblig, but has less calories and is therefore better for your heart. The only anomaly is this page. Normally it should have been written by a Swiss, but because Europa Star couldn’t find any Swiss stupid enough to recount this tale of Swiss Pride, this 100% Swiss made story has been written by an English-speaking male who was born in Scotland, has Russian ancestry, carries a British passport and lives in Switzerland.

My only redeeming feature, it seems, is that I have not one, but two Swiss ex-wives!

Source: Europa Star February-March 2007 Magazine Issue