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BRANDS - The Resurgence of CHRONOSWISS

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August 2014



A COURAGEOUS TRIO - A short tribute to three very different brands that dare to believe: VALBRAY, CHRONOSWISS and ATELIERS DEMONACO

Oliver and Eva Ebstein – Managing Director and Chairman - took ownership of Chronoswiss in 2012.
Neither having been in the watch industry prior to that date, they showed their courage by daring to believe that they could revitalize a brand that is in one of the most competitive price ranges - 3,000 to 4,500 Swiss francs. Well before the takeover the brand already had a cash flow problem and then came the economic downturn which obviously had its repercussions.
There naturally followed a slump in sales that wasn’t helped by the brand’s failure to modernize its collections and therefore appeal to a younger, perhaps more demanding clientele. In short, Chronoswiss was going through a mid-life crisis.

Oliver & Eva Ebstein
Oliver & Eva Ebstein

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, who founded the Chronoswiss brand in 1983, had been searching for a buyer for his company for some time. He wanted to retire from the day-to-day running of the business but despite receiving several offers he refused to sell it to any company or third party he felt would simply buy the name and completely change the brand’s DNA and raison d’être: manufacturing quality mechanical watches.

Timemaster Retro by Chronoswiss
Timemaster Retro by Chronoswiss
Time Chronograph Skeleton by Chronoswiss
Time Chronograph Skeleton by Chronoswiss

Oliver and Eva Ebstein convinced him of their sincerity to do just that and the deal was done with Lang remaining as an advisor. The brand’s head office was moved from its Munich base to Lucerne where new offices, a service centre and workshops for enamelling and guilloché are being installed – thus eliminating the need to subcontract these specialized crafts.

The Ebsteins, now in their second year of ownership, have given Chronoswiss a new lease of life. Whilst maintaining certain typical Chronoswiss features such as the coin edge finish on the cases and the onion-style crown, we are now seeing atypical characteristics such as a sporty appearance and stainless steel with DLC coating. To this you have to add the updating of the standards that helped establish the brand as a leading manufacturer of chronographs.

Chronograph Day Date by Chronoswiss
Chronograph Day Date by Chronoswiss

Chronoswiss is now manufacturing around 5,000 watches a year and its aim is to reach and stabilize its production at 10,000 pieces. To do this, the brand’s customer base has been maintained but as is clearly visible with the new models, the aim is to extend that base to aim at a clientele seeking the technical know-how of Chronoswiss with a more modern, sporty and colourful look. Take for example the 44 mm Timemaster Retrograde Day: it has a very modern youthful appearance with its black DLC coated case, polished bezel with white numerals, galvanic black dial with bold white Arabic numerals and black rubber strap. And yet there is a big date aperture at 12 o’clock and a retrograde day indicator at 6 o’clock with a red pointer and a sweep white seconds pointer.

In the same Timemaster collection there is an eye-catching skeleton chronograph, so typical of the brand, but now with an extremely bold Day Date Chronograph in stainless steel –that will appeal to both mechanical watch aficionados and a generation of more contemporary enthusiasts looking to make a statement via their wrists.

Sirius Artist by Chronoswiss
Sirius Artist by Chronoswiss
Sirius Retro Day/Date by Chronoswiss
Sirius Retro Day/Date by Chronoswiss

For lovers of the arts and crafts in watchmaking, there is the Sirius Artist watch, a beautiful combination of royal blue and translucent enamelling on a sterling silver dial that reveals the striking guilloché work. In stainless steel or red gold, the 40 mm manually wound watch has a Swiss movement with a 48-hour power reserve with small seconds at 6 o’clock. The Sirius Artist is water-resistant to 30 metres and comes with a crocodile leather strap.

Further proof of Chronoswiss highlighting its new approach and capabilities is the unique watch ‘The Three Apes’ made for the Only Watch Charity auction in aid of the research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The Three Apes (front) by Chronoswiss
The Three Apes (front) by Chronoswiss
The Three Apes (back) by Chronoswiss
The Three Apes (back) by Chronoswiss

The timepiece is decorated with guilloché and enamelling featuring the three apes and given a further three dimensional aspect via the use of a translucent enamel. The watch has a transparent caseback that reveals the manually wound skeletonized movement with the bridges and plates enhanced with a guilloché finish. This unique piece sold in the auction for 42,000 euros!

So there you have it. A new and highly motivated team, prepared to take the once ailing brand into new frontiers whilst maintaining its original DNA.
A courageous, yet carefully planned beginning for this esteemed brand.

Part of the article “A COURAGEOUS TRIO”
A short tribute to three very different brands that dare to believe - including:

VALBRAY Opens its Shutters

The ATELIERS DEMONACO Challenge

Source: Europa Star August - September 2014 Magazine Issue