‘Heavens Light’ and the Decline of the German Language

February 2005



Germans, at least a significant amount of them, like to garnish our language with English or English sounding words. ‘Handy’, pronounced as in English for instance, is a newly created word that became the common term for mobile phone. The information desk of the German railway company Deutsche Bahn turned into ‘Service Point’ a couple of years ago and Deutsche Telecom the biggest telephone company charged ‘Local Calls’ and ‘German Calls’ on their bills until customer’s protests forced them to use German words again.
Another trend became visible during the past years: company names and advertising slogans of German companies are created and published in English more and more. Sometimes they seem to be ridiculous, although it is understandable for exporting companies like, for example, fashion and accessories brands such as Betty Barclay.
Though this name does not sound so, Betty Barclay is a genuine German company since 1955, long before the ‘Anglicism’ trend in our country started. Similar to the development of many watch brands, the rise all began with a small enterprise. In 1938 young Max Berk took over a textile producing company in Mannheim and soon began manufacturing ladies’ fashions. In 1943, Berk’s firm was destroyed by allied bombing and after the end of World War 2 Max Berk moved to nearby Heidelberg. In 1955 he became licensee of the American fashion brand Betty Barclay, which he took over on an exclusive worldwide basis in 1972. In 1973 the company opened its first foreign agency in the Far East followed in 1976 with subsidiaries in Austria and Switzerland.
Today, the Betty Barclay group employs some 1,000 people and generates an annual turnover of more than 250 million euros, 48 per cent of which is exported. Betty Barclay goods are sold in 52 countries worldwide, the most important markets after Germany being Belgium, France, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Scandinavia and United Kingdom. Originally trading fashion items such as handbags, cosmetics and accessories, Betty Barclay ventured into the watch business in the 1990s.
This year a ‘restart’ took place in co-operation with MAG Uhren Vertriebs GmbH which became the new distributor for Austria and Germany. Here the brand is on sale in some 240 jewellery shops, department stores and boutiques.
As 69 per cent of German women recognize the Betty Barclay brand, the target group is women between 30 and 50 years of age.
Dealing in the very attractive price range between 50 and 150 Euros with numerous models in the lower price level, the watches are also attracting younger women. Models like ‘Almost Famous’ a stainless steel watch with a zirconia-set bezel and white dial with diamond cut hour markers or the elegant ‘Heavens Light’ (written this way) with a red gold-plated tonneau-shaped steel case, zirconia setting, black dial with red gold plated hour markers and hands (99.90 Euros each) have the right look and offer value for money for spontaneous purchases.
‘MAG’ is also in charge of the distribution of Bruno Banani watches. As Italian names also sound good in Germany, Bruno Banani was chosen as a brand name when the former state owned textile producer Tricotex was taken over by Wolfgang Jassner in 1993. Together with his Managing Director Klaus Jungnickel and Gerhard Fischbach as Creative Director, Jassner focused on creating ‘design underwear’. Soon, the product range widened and now consists of men’s wear, such as shirts, jeans, trousers and jackets. Boosted by the not very German sounding slogan ‘Not for everybody’, Bruno Banani became renowned for accessories like belts, sun glasses and socks as well as fragrances and not least for watches, which have been on sale since January 2003.
The collection mainly consists of stainless steel watches in the 16:9 TV screen shape. Big hands and huge numerals at 3, 9 and 12 ensure a special appearance. Priced between 70 and 150 euros, the watches are presently available in Austria, Germany and Netherlands.
Bruno Banani’s cheerfully coloured dials easily grab one’s attention and sport names such as ‘Magic China’ and ‘Magic Arabia’ which are decorated in styles typical of the Far East and Arabia.
You have to have a good sense of humour to wear watches with dials in national colours or with flag symbols and names like ‘Magic Türkiye’, ‘Magic Italia’ or ‘Magic USA’ (at 99 euros each). They are ‘fun’ watches that should not be taken too seriously.

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