urich-based retailer Beyer Chronometrie offers probably the best counterpoint to the ever-increasing concentration in the watch retail trade. We are seeing the emergence of specialised chains with a reach that encompasses several countries and even continents, as we show in our latest special report. After eight generations and an uninterrupted history dating back to 1760, Beyer Chronometrie has never ventured as far as the next canton, never mind neighbouring countries, despite receiving numerous requests to do so, and several proposals for international franchises over the decades.
But this has not prevented it from remaining a prestigious address, if not the most prestigious, on the watchmaking circuit. The name is surrounded by an almost mythical aura, just as much as those of its two longstanding partners, Rolex and Patek Philippe which it represents in Zurich. Pre-Covid, the address attracted a clientele of connoisseurs from all over the world. Perhaps this stubborn refusal to expand has even helped, rather than harmed, its legendary status.
Perhaps this stubborn refusal to expand has even helped, rather than harmed, its legendary status.
- Some of the many virtual timepieces imagined by the artists and designers commissioned by historical Swiss retailer Beyer Chronometrie for its foray into the world of NFTs.
From CPO to NFTs
“The Beyer family has always wanted to keep control of its environment, which is not possible through multiple subsidiaries,” notes head of marketing Philippe Meyer, who works alongside René Beyer, eighth-generation representative of the founding family. Nevertheless, the boutique has constantly adapted to the changing times. Here’s one example: “Certified pre-owned (CPO) is a fashionable concept, but Beyer Chronometrie has been buying and selling second-hand watches since 1965! We were also among the first traditional retailers to use Instagram.”
Further proof of this innovative and yet grounded mindset – which may come as a surprise to many – is that the retailer is now getting into NFTs! “We’re not going into it with a strict business plan or specific expectations, but simply with a desire to generate creativity,” explains Philippe Meyer. “When our digital agency approached us at the end of 2021 to present their new unit dedicated to the metaverse, we saw it as an opportunity to give it a try, and to create Beyer Chronometrie’s first NFT watch collection.”
“When our digital agency presented their new unit dedicated to the metaverse, we saw it as an opportunity to create Beyer Chronometrie’s first NFT watch collection.”
Breaking free from reality
René Beyer was happy to give his approval to this leap into the unknown. “Creatively, you can do anything with NFTs, because the barriers of the real and the physical no longer exist. In itself, this project is perhaps even more artistic than horological.”
Beyer Chronometrie asked four designers from different fields to create a series of new virtual watches: Simon Husslein, designer and professor of interior architecture at the HEAD in Geneva; Niklaus Hodel (aka “The Shoe Guy”), a luxury footwear specialist; Ricardo Diaz, a 3D artist who is also in charge of transcribing the virtual designs in this venture; and Florian Beck, a digital specialist and the man behind the project, which is named FTSY8 (read “Fantasy”) x Beyer Chronometrie.
Beyer Chronometrie asked four designers from different fields to create a series of new virtual watches.
The results are light years away from what one would expect from an eight-generation watch retailer. Among the NFT models we find “Allevo” with its movement that floats above the dial, “Sky Spotter” featuring a drone that lands on the case and “The Hanoi”, a recreation of the iconic watch from the film Pulp Fiction.
“For this project, we are working at the intersection of watchmaking, technology, gaming, streetwear and fashion,” says Philippe Meyer. “There will be a very wide choice of NFT models with multiple variations that can be purchased on a dedicated platform.” Rather than expanding its physical footprint, after eight generations in business, the retailer has finally found a new and limitless virtual territory to explore.