Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier proposes two new basic movements

October 2011

“VMF has passed through some difficult moments during the economic crisis and during the restructuring. In order to preserve and maintain our production tool, we have reorganized our structure. The passage from an artisanal manufacture to an industrial manufacture required new strategic orientations. Thus, we have repositioned our offer to meet the needs of the marketplace by revisiting our key processes and our business plan,” explains Florian Serex, General Manager of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier.
Employment is again up, five months earlier than expected, and VMF today has 160 employees. An optimist, Florian Serex adds, “we are ready for a growth of 100 per cent over the next five years.”

Verticalized ensemble
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier—which belongs to the Sandoz Family Foundation and which has grown at the sides of Parmigiani for which it is the main manufacturing group of various companies—seriously suffered during the watch recession that followed the economic downturn of the years 2008-2009. After having recruited 60 new workers in 2008, Vaucher had to lay off 14 people in March of 2009, then reduced hours to 70 per cent, before again reducing staff in April of 2010, passing from 210 to 160 today.
Since then, not only has the wind begun to change direction (returning much more slowly to fill up the sails of the ateliers and the annex branches than those of the brands, whose stocks were expecting only that), but, as Florian Serex explains, the crisis—as painful as it was—also made the brand seriously revisit its strategy. It has been all about keeping a large company operating, one that is now nearly totally verticalized (at the sides of VMF, there are its sister companies, namely Atokalpa for movements and Elwin for primary component parts such as oscillators, assortments, and cutting, as well as Les Artisans Boîtiers/Quadrance & Habillage which make cases and dials). Up to now, Vaucher Manufacture has been criticized for its weak presence on external markets (it is there mainly with Hermès, which holds 25 per cent of VMF), its relatively inadequate offer, and its prices that have been considered too high.
The new strategy put into place by Florian Serex largely takes into account these criticisms. Thus, VMF now proposes a greatly reorganized offer, composed of six mechanical calibres, including two new ‘basic’ calibres whose industrialization has been optimized and which can therefore be proposed at more ‘affordable’ prices. This is news that will certainly attract watch brands.

Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier proposes two new basic movements

The 5300, a micro-rotor
The first among these new calibres is a basic movement, the Calibre 5300, featuring hours, minutes, small seconds, and date. It is also extra-thin (2.6 mm for an encasing diameter of 30 mm), with automatic winding by micro-rotor that provides 42 hours of working reserve. The choice of a micro-rotor, besides the fact that it allows for the thin movement, also has the advantage of offering larger bridge surfaces, always visible, that permit elaborate personalization in terms of decoration. This is one of the axes on which VMF is basing its policies: offer movements that are easily personalized, including the shape of the bridges and rotor.
With lovely finishing (circular-graining, Côtes de Genève pattern, ceramic ball bearings, chamfering, curved pivots, etc.) and positioned to equip watches selling for around 8,000 CHF, the Calibre 5300 is intended to be produced in quantities of 50 to 200 pieces per series. Its average price will be around 1,190 CHF for a series of 500 pieces. There is also the possibility of adding an extra plate that can transform it into a perpetual calendar measuring less than 4 mm in thickness (so, watch fans, take note!).

The 3000, an automatic double barrel
The second new movement is the Calibre 3000, an automatic proposed in 10½”’ or in 11½”’, with two barrels in series, beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz), for a working reserve of 50 hours. The VMF 3000 is the industrialized version of the earlier VMF 4000, the manufacture’s prestigious automatic movement designed to receive additional internal modules (perpetual calendar or annual date, lunar phases) or additional external modules (chronograph, GMT, etc.). This new calibre will be available in a series ranging from 500 to 5000 pieces per year. The price will be 890 CHF.

Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier proposes two new basic movements CALIBRE 5300, CALIBRE 3000

Weight transformed into advantage?
Armed with this new offer largely available to watch brands, VMF expects to be able to increase production from the current level of 12,000 movements per year to 25,000 movements annually within three or four years. To succeed, all will depend on what happens with its direct competitors. Among these, we think especially of Frédéric Piguet, which produces some 70,000 movements per year, and Sowind, attached to Girard-Perregaux, which can also open more to the competition.

There is an important difference, however, re-minds Florian Serex. VMF is part of an ensemble that is not only nearly totally verticalized but that also produces its own oscillators and its own escapements. The long and slow creation of this industrial ensemble—although a struggle up to now—may very well transform itself into a great advantage in the tense years to come—on condition, of course, that the VMF offer meets the needs of watchmakers. Stay tuned.

Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier proposes two new basic movements Additional internal modules: perpetual calendar, annual retrograde calendar

Source: Europa Star August - September 2011 Magazine Issue