Christine Hutter, Founder and CEO of German Independent Watchmaker Moritz Grossmann
Talking high-end watches with one of the only women on the indie scene.
Christine Hutter has quite a unique curriculum. A watchmaker, she is one of the few – if not the only – women to be the founder & CEO of a high-end independent watchmaker, Moritz Grossmann, in Glashütte. Dubai Watch Week offered the perfect opportunity to sit down with this passionate entrepreneur to discuss her career and what makes the brand’s watches unique.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – What is your background, and how did you end up reviving the Moritz Grossmann name?
Christine Hutter, CEO of Moritz Grossmann – Well, I am a trained watchmaker, but I worked years in marketing, sales, and distribution. In 1996, I went to Glashütte. There I worked for Glashütte Original and then with Lange & Söhne. That’s where I really understood the importance of the name Moritz Grossmann. Since nobody owned the name, my family and I decided that we should protect the trademark. In the meantime, I had moved to Zermatt, Switzerland, where I received the news that our request to register the name had finally been accepted.
Of course, I had to go back to Glashütte because the name Grossmann is deeply connected to the city. He was an important character in the history of German watchmaking. So, we had a holding company in Switzerland and, from there, we established a company in Germany. We started with a P.O. box, and I worked from my kitchen table with a dream of setting up a manufacture from scratch. We rented a store in Glashütte, then opened a small office. Half a year later, we hired our first employee to build the first Benu movement and created a small atelier.
When did you present your first watch?
It was in September 2010. It was a limited edition of 100 pieces. We knew at the time that manufacturing these watches would require at least two years. In the meantime, we worked on the development of the following models. By the time we inaugurated our new manufacture in 2013, we already had a team of 20 people. The Benu was sold out, and we were able to introduce three new watches that year. We really started to expand in 2014 and 2015, when we began to develop our distribution. Before that, we had focused on developing movements and our production tools. This takes time. Today we are a team of 40, and we have developed 12 calibres. We focus on producing watches as finely hand-finished and meticulously handcrafted as possible.
What do you manufacture in-house today?
We manufacture 90% of the movement; we only buy a few parts: the escape wheel, although we produce the pivot in-house, the hairspring, which we cut and shape ourselves, the mainspring, the Nivaflex, the jewels, and that’s it. We develop cases in-house, although these are manufactured by partners. We produce hands in-house. We partly manufacture dials in-house, like the tremblage dial on which we worked with an engraver from Glashütte and then finished in-house.
What makes Moritz Grossmann watches special?
Well, first, there is attention to detail in the finishing of our pieces. Second, we create truly unique pieces that did not exist before. We try to think outside the box. The design is classic, but there is always something special, with original technical solutions or unique crafts. If you look at our tremblage dial, it looks traditional, it is finely handcrafted, but it is a very rare technique that needs a lot of experience and an artistic sensibility.
Grossmann wrote an essay entitled “The Construction of a Simple but Mechanically Perfect Watch,” which encapsulates our philosophy perfectly. Most of our watches look simple and classic, but inside it is as perfect as possible.
Take the Hamatic, for example. It is inspired by history, but it is a new development, a movement from the 21st century that did not exist before.
How many watches are you manufacturing per year?
We have the capacity to produce 300 pieces per year. The target will be to produce 800 to 1,000 pieces per year. We cannot really produce more at this point of time. That would require changing the way we work and need automated production, which is something we do not want. We follow our credo of applying the highest quality of finish in our movements. As an example, we bevel elements in our movements at a 45-degree angle by hand. This requires manual craftsmanship with a great amount of experience and skill. For a higher production quantity, we would have to mill the bevels with machines. However, this does not meet our standards and is not our philosophy. Our focus is on quality, not quantity.
How do you deal with the distribution of your watches?
We work with retailers worldwide but are still setting up the distribution network. We are strong in Japan, Asia, and the Middle East and currently developing the American and European markets. And in countries where we don’t have retailers or distributors, we can deliver directly.
We have recently launched our Moritz Grossmann Online Boutique. It gives customers the opportunity to design their Moritz Grossmann watch just how they want it. Watch lovers can try straps to see which best suits their preferred model. They can also choose their preferred strap length and clasp.
What is the next challenge for Moritz Grossmann?
We have to slowly increase production while maintaining the highest quality and finishing standards. Our priority goes to the appreciation and recognition of the quality of our products by collectors and watch enthusiasts.
How important is it for you to participate in events like the Dubai Watch Week?
It is very important. Dubai Watch Week is one of our main partners. We attended the first edition about eight years ago, mostly with independents. Since then, the development has been spectacular. What has been achieved here in Dubai is incredible. It is a fantastic platform to meet clients and the press.
For more information, please visit grossmann-uhren.com.