Swatch Group

Interview with Franz Linder, CEO of Mido


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July 2018

Interview with Franz Linder, CEO of Mido

The brand with the Spanish name (“I measure”) came into being exactly one century ago, in 1918. Historically well-established in Latin America, the Swatch Group-owned brand is now going for Asia, by far its largest market currently. On the occasion of its centenary, it is reissuing several historic models. We met its CEO, Franz Linder.

What models are you issuing for your centenary?

A Big Date, of course! We’ve integrated a new, exclusive Mido calibre into our Commander line with the largest date aperture in our segment and a power reserve of 80 hours. Our objective for this anniversary was to reflect a number of our values: innovation, quality, a certain timelessness and a very attractive price. You won’t find a watch as original and that offers as much anywhere on the market in this price range. Also in the Commander collection, we’ve revisited the Shade line from 1979. Lastly, we launched a reedition of the original Multifort Datometer from 1939, limited to 1918 items. That’s been a success by anybody’s standards, since that model is now sold out.

Franz Linder, CEO of Mido
Franz Linder, CEO of Mido

Neo-vintage is on a roll. But design aside, aren’t your prices your most compelling argument for winning market share?

Our average price is CHF 1,000, which places us between Tissot and Longines in the Swatch Group. It’s not our only sales argument: at that price we offer mainly automatic watches – 90 % – and above all, in our segment we’re the brand that offers the largest choice of COSCcertified watches. At around 50,000 items a year they don’t represent a huge part of our production, but the quality message is important.

Your roots are Swiss and – South American! What are your key markets today?

Historically we’re still strong in Latin America, where we’re “king” in our category in Mexico. But the region that represents by far our largest market today is Asia, with China topping the list. We have a large distribution network there, with 800 sales outlets in 260 towns.

Your anniversary aside, how did things go for Mido at Basel businesswise?

For us this year’s edition held few surprises. Customers who come every year visited us again this time round. The figures are similar to those of previous years. On the other hand, we greatly appreciated finishing two days early, since we achieved similar sales over a shorter trade show period.

In your mid-range segment, the most important change at the moment is the emergence of e-commerce. What is your strategy on online sales?

There are several ways of approaching e-commerce. At present we’re exploring just about all the possibilities, taking local realities into account. In the United States, we have our own e-commerce platform. In China, we partner with sites such as Tmall (Editor’s note: Longines has launched a huge sales offensive on this site, see the interview with Walter von Känel in our previous issue). And in Europe, it’s above all the retailers themselves who are launching their own online platforms and incorporating our models. Today, online sales via the channels we control directly represent less than 10% of our total sales.

You’re an affordable brand. That also means you’re easy to find on sites selling pre-owned watches. What view do you take of this proliferation of possibilities for buying pre-owned watches?

We’ve being seeing this phenomenon for a few years now and it might well affect us since Mido watches are known for their enduring quality. It’s the price of success! In general, we see two types of watch customer on the internet: those in search of rare items, whether old or new models – for example, a Bugatti model sold for 30,000 dollars, that’s our highest score to date. Another sought-after timepiece is the Centre Chronograph, which can sell for 5,000 to 8,000 dollars. And then there are the “bulk” items, like our Multifort models – and of course you’re going find a lot of those for sale in the Internet, at more affordable prices.


The internet also makes it easier to personalise watches, using configurators. Do you respond to this kind of request?

The advantage of personalisation for a brand is first and foremost the chance to interact with the customer – and the lessons that can be learned from that participative experience. But in our price categories, we’ve opted rather to launch watch design competitions for the general public: for example, which monument will be the inspiration for the next Mido watch? To cite another example, we also invited the public to choose between three creations by different designers to see how our future watch might look. That helped us to understand the vision that the public at large has of Mido.

The other great change at the moment is the emergence of smartwatches. Will we soon be seeing a smart Mido?

For me, Mido is the long-lasting automatic watch, micromechanics, emotion… a very different statement from that of electronics. I don’t think we’ll be seeing that kind of watch at Mido in the near future. I think you have to be consistent. On the other hand, it makes a lot more sense to propose smart models in other price segments within the group, for a brand like Tissot, for example.