Created in 1888, and part the Bucherer Group, Carl F. Bucherer has developed impressively over the past few years, becoming much more visible and gaining independence as a watchmaker. Naturally, this required a long-term strategy driven by an industrial vision, innovative products and a global expansion of the distribution. To understand this evolution, and to see where the brand is going, we talked to Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Business perspective – how does the brand perform and what has been its evolution over the past few years?
Sascha Moeri – Carl F. Bucherer is amongst those in the industry that have been making the right decisions in the past years. And watch enthusiasts around the world are clearly rewarding us for it: in October 2019, we have topped 2018’s record turnover with our sell-outs globally. The brand is performing very well, to say the least, and the perspectives for 2020 and the years to come are very promising.
In the last almost 10 years we have gradually set the course for moving from a hidden treasure to a globally well-established high-end watch-manufacture. Our strategy on that path has been very precise. In a first step, we clarified our collection and redefined our price segments through diversification. We extended our distribution network through independent retail partners while building powerful production capacities, investing in R&D and our own mechanical movements. All of that paved the way for our leading role in the peripheral technology today: We were first to produce a peripheral automatic winding system in series.
In 2016, we launched a brand refresh, presenting Carl F. Bucherer in new colours, with a new claim that pays tribute to our terroir and our roots in the heart of Switzerland: Made of Lucerne! That was the same year in which we acquired our own manufacturing site, to centralize production and R&D and come up with such outstanding technical milestones as our Manero Tourbillon DoublePeripheral. It has also offered us new opportunities to grow: We have quintupled our production volume from 6,500 pieces in 2010 to 30,000 watches this year. A huge success, all thanks to the excellent work and passionate dedication of my CFB family worldwide.
We have come a long way in order to offer our timepieces to collectors worldwide, but we will always remain an exclusive manufacture, deeply connected to its origins and a strong set of values.
The brand transformation – how has the brand structured its manufacturing activities?
With our manufacture (which we’ve visited in the video above), we have built a centre of excellence with a modern infrastructure, all set to not only continue the history of making our own movements but establish a truly integrated production process, which meets the highest standards in the field of Haute Horlogerie and puts us in a very competitive position within the industry.
Customers reward those efforts and the spirit of innovation with their trust and high regard of our watches.
What does technical innovation mean at Carl F. Bucherer?
Innovational strength is part of our DNA. To us, that means challenging the status quo by thinking outside of the box. It is that free-spirited mindset, that led Carl Friedrich Bucherer to open his first store for watches and jewelry in Lucerne in 1888, and it is the same free-spirit that drives us today and has brought out ingenious technical milestones. Take our calibre A1000: It was the world’s first movement with a peripheral rotor produced in series. The calibre set new standards within the industry and established our role as pioneers in the field of peripheral technology.
We challenged the status quo once more with the introduction of the calibre A2000 before introducing our patented T3000 in 2018: the first movement ever to combine a peripheral automatic winding system with a peripherally mounted, floating tourbillon. And we have by far not reached the end of the pole yet: keep an eye on us for the upcoming Baselworld to experience innovational power and watchmaking excellence on a whole new level.
The Heritage collection was one of the brand’s highlights at Baselworld. What are the core values at Carl F. Bucherer?
As a watch manufacturer, we have long been dedicated to both: the fine art of precision timekeeping as well as the significance of the moment, or simply: the value of time.
With our “Treasuring Values” campaign we have been putting the assets and values in focus, that have long been a key part of our philosophy, our products and partnerships: Excellence, Innovational Strength, Tradition, and Sustainability! These are the maxims that we adhere to actively in all our doing.
Our Heritage collection, including its newest addition, the Heritage Bicompax Annual, most certainly is a strong statement in those regards. The collection features only limited-edition timepieces and is a tribute to our eventful history, to Carl F. Bucherer’s home in Lucerne, to exquisite craftsmanship, and to exceptional design rooted in over 130 years of savoir-faire. The new Heritage Bicompax perfectly reflects those values: its vintage-inspired looks are a homage to the iconic design of the 1950s, while the combination of a bicompax chronograph and an annual calendar is proof of true technical ingenuity – all at a very fair price point of 6.900 CHF for the steel version. What more can one ask for?
Carl F. Bucherer is part of the Bucherer Group. How do you shape the brand’s presence in an omnichannel perspective?
We are very lucky to be part of the Bucherer Group thus under the same roof as Europe’s largest and best in class retailer. It is undeniably an asset! We have 400 points of sale around the world, 100 of which are within the Bucherer retail network and 300 which are independent retailers. This is exactly the ratio that we were aiming for.
We will remain exclusive but at the same time need to make sure that our growing number of customers is able to find us easily. We also know that the digital world is key. This is why – in addition to our strong network of traditional sales platforms – we are happy to sell via the Bucherer e-commerce, and have opened our own first digital boutique with JD.com in China last year.
What has been the impact of the Tourneau acquisition by Bucherer, specifically on your North American operations?
First of all, I am super happy and proud that Tourneau is part of the Bucherer family. The cooperation and exchange with the management is best practice. For CFB it’s an amazing opportunity to increase visibility and raise brand awareness. To amplify this effect, we went both ways last year and also bought out our US distributor, to have our own subsidiary.
This gives us more quality stores, more brand awareness, and access to one of the most important markets in the watch industry. We were already very strong in Europe and in Asia, and now with the U.S., we have a solid presence in all the key markets.
You are one of the most active CEOs in the watch industry on Social Media. Why should CEOs engage via social media?
I don’t want to give recommendations to others in those regards. Every brand is different and every CEO needs to do what feels right to them and aligns with their values. I personally though see a huge benefit through communication on social media. I love to be in direct contact with watch aficionados and fans of Carl F. Bucherer all over the world. And social channels offer a great way to interact directly and share information immediately. I am receiving messages from watch lovers with very precise questions about our watches on a daily basis. Instagram has become an important sales channel. I believe that in the future, those brands able to orchestrate online and offline touchpoints all together in a well-balanced way will be most successful.
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The brand has been supporting the Manta Trust for several years now. What drives this commitment? What other sustainability practices have been adopted?
We are setting the course for the future with our actions today. This is true for individuals, as well as for companies steeped in tradition. At Carl F. Bucherer, this awareness has resulted in commitments, projects, and timepieces that are exemplars of sustainability. This includes our participation at the Only Watch auction and of course the partnership with the Manta Trust.
To this end, we have worked with the UK-based charity, for more than seven years to help conserve the oceans and the habitats of manta rays. We have contributed in a number of ways over the course of the years, for instance by sponsoring satellite tags to track the movements of manta rays and funding an educational movie. Together, we hope to make a lasting contribution to the conservation of this fascinating species.
The new Patravi ScubaTec Black Manta Special Edition, launched this year, is yet another timepiece in support of this partnership. All our ScubaTec watches have manta rays engraved on their caseback as a tribute to those gentle giants and the Manta Trust. But with the new watch, we are taking sustainability to a new level. The fabric element sewn in the rubber strap is composed entirely of recycled bottles recovered from the Mediterranean Sea. Around 30 bottles are processed into one meter of firm yarn to produce the textile component in each strap. The fabrics are manufactured in Italy, which guarantees short transportation distances.
As a result, each timepiece is not just a symbol of sustainability; it also makes an active contribution to the conservation of the oceans and the responsible use of our resources.
What is the greatest challenge for the brand?
Honestly, the biggest challenge for Carl F. Bucherer right now is to keep up with the growing demand for our watches! That’s a beautiful problem to have, I guess (laughs).
More details about the brand at www.carl-f-bucherer.com.