Market Focus Germany: Part 3

February 2006


Glashütte / Wempe, Jaeger-LeCoultre / Wempe, Chopard / Wempe and Breitling / Wempe

Big and busy can be lucky
In contrast to small businesses, big stores in city sites are running quite well with large differences depending on supply, shop’s interior, personnel or simply the way the business is managed.
The Hamburg based retail company Wempe is the only German jeweller of international rank and can be taken as a good example of how to run a large family business. The jewellery and watch dealer has 24 subsidiaries in Europe and New York. The shops are, without exception, located in A-regions of large cities and have similar fixtures, fittings and equipment.
Wempe have their own, perfectly equipped workshop for fine timepieces in their headquarters in Hamburg. Some 20 watchmakers have the skills to repair and overhaul high quality watches. Several of the team have been undergoing a special training with brands like Patek Philippe and therefore have permission to repair the brand’s models. The sales personnel are competent, clearly interested in the customer’s wishes and well trained, which is very important, as Wempe has in stock nearly every brand producing complicated watches.
But Wempe is not only a retailer. They also have their exclusive jewellery collection and own the Wempe Chronometerwerke. This company once specialized on making ship’s chronometers. Today, as the Global Positioning System GPS has taken the place of positioning with nautical instruments, Wempe Chronmeterwerke produces modern clock network installations and a small amount of mechanical chronometers for collectors.
This year the chronometer factory celebrated its hundreath year. In order to mark this anniversary in a very unusual way, some of the Swiss watch companies agreed to a very special cooperation. Wempe brought together a group of prestigious watch brands that agreed to make a unique watch collection for this very special event.
Brands like IWC, Audemars Piguet, Nomos, Longines, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne, Breitling, Chopard, Glashütte Original, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai produced timepieces in Limited Editions, all with a reference to Wempe and the anniversary of the Chronometerwerke, which were sold in a special jubilee sale. (For further information see www.wempe.de)
On the watch manufacturer’s side, Chronoswiss seems to do fine. The Munich based company of founder Gerd-Rüdiger Lang is dealing with watches completely assembled in Switzerland. The PR, sales, advertising and service departments are located in Munich, where presently a new manufacture building is erected in a village right across the city’s border. Via Chronosa a subsidiary in Biel-Niedau, Switzerland, guarantees a close connection to Swiss watch components’ suppliers. This business model seems to be successful: Chronoswiss is making considerable progress in Russia, Asia and the Middle East and has already achieved a growth in turnover of a remarkable 18 percent during the first semester of 2005. (For further information: www.chronoswiss.com)


TARSIS by Meer, KEOS by Meer and Jürgen Meer

Small companies with power and optimism
The situation in Germany in general may not be too good. But despite that small companies are founded every year and most of them are successful within a short period.
Already eight months after the founding of his enterprise, Jürgen Meer, for example, is well represented in retail stores in Germany, Singapore, Japan, Mexico and Spain. The watch brand named after him is positioned in the price range under 600 euros, where mechanical watches are rarely found especially if one is looking for quality. “On December 1st 2004 I introduced my watch collection to specialized retailers in Germany,” says Meer who has a long experience in the watch branch having been employed at Omega, Seiko, Raymond Weil and Xen. “My participation at the Inhorgenta Europe fair in February in Munich, plus my presence on the BaselWorld watch fair in April, allowed me to make international contacts. Conversations with retail jewellers, as well as with owners of other watch brands, proved that, because of my concepts and appropriate margins for retailers, I am basically on the right track.” 45 year-old Jürgen Meer, travels throughout Germany by himself, using his numerous contacts with jewellers from Flensburg on the Danish border down to shops in Bavaria. Meer cares for his customers. He answers every e-mail himself and supplies a second strap with every watch plus the appropriate tool for free. “If the jeweller knows that I stand behind my products personally and he can rely on me, it is only natural that he prefers to sell my watches instead of an anonymous brand,” says Meer.
For the time being, the collection consists of six Meer watches in steel cases, waterproof to a depth of 50 metres and equipped with sapphire crystals, screw on casebacks with a mineral crystal and an automatic ETA 2824 movement. Model names like Tarsis, Keos or Pharos refer to antique Mediterranean towns. (For further information: www.meer-uhren.de)


PORTO CERVO by Scalfaro, Alexander & Dominik Kuhnle and CAP FERRAT by Scalfaro

The Mediterranean Sea plays a special role not only for the Meer company (besides, Meer means sea in German) but also for two young men, who founded their watch brand Scalfaro in 2003.
Scalfaro is another successful watch brand owned and managed by Germans but with total production in Switzerland. In spite of the Italian sounding name of the brand, both the brothers Alexander and Dominik Kuhnle spent their childhood in South-West Germany, a part of the country with a long tradition in clock, watch and jewellery manufacturing.
The Kuhnle brothers themselves grew up with a close connection to the jewellery industry. They learned very early on the meaning of aesthetics and quality. As sons of a wealthy family, the Riviera and the world of yachting played a vital role in the life of the boys. No wonder that the watches are named after famous points throughout the Mediterranean Sea like Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo on Sardinia or Cap Ferrat at the Côte d’Azur.
All watches are made of 316L anti-allergic stainless steel, have anti-reflex treated, scratch-resistant sapphire crystals as well on the dial side as on the back of the case and are waterproof down to 100 metres. The timepieces are equipped with a personalized ETA automatic movement and galvanized guilloché dials. They are available with rubber or leather straps or steel bracelets in a price range of 2,350 to 10,000 euros.
Self-confident, the Kuhnle brothers call their brand “one of the few family businesses in the concert of the big luxury groups”. At least they seem to play an appropriate instrument! (For further information: www.scalfaro.ch)

In the forthcoming days, the rest of this lenghty survey will be added to our europastar website.

Market Focus Germany: Part 1
Market Focus Germany: Part 2
Market Focus Germany: Part 3
Market Focus Germany: Part 4

Source: December - January 2006 Issue

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