Swiss Watch International Goes out of Business
South Florida watch company Swiss Watch International, also known as The SWI Group, laid off its 129 employees and closed for business on January 23. SWI was mostly an online watch retailer that ran the websites WorldofWatches.com, eWatches.com, TheWatchery.com, and SmartBargains.com. The company also owned the watch brands Swiss Legend and Lucien Piccard. As of March 8, several of the websites were still operational, but orders are not being fulfilled and attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful. Investment firm Clearlake Capital Group sold the company to an un-disclosed buyer in September and SWI was operating under a temp-orary forbearance agreement, a special agreement between the lender and the borrower to delay a foreclosure. The closure of Swiss Watch International is not considered a bankruptcy but a forfeiture of its assets to its investors.
21st Century Neuchâtel Clock
Engineering students at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) or EPFL have developed a traditional Neuchâtel-style clock with a 21st-century oscillator. The prototype “IsoSpring” mechanism, which replaces the traditional escapement and oscillator, rotates in only one direction to release the power from the gear train and mainspring, and eliminates the “stop-and-go” motion and ticking that normally accompany a watch or clock mechanism. The efficiency of this system is also exponentially greater than previously available technology, allowing for minimal or zero lubrication and substantially longer power reserves. The development of the mechanism came from a principle discovered by Isaac Newton in the 17th century: “Imagine an ancient sling in which you use a leather strap to make a stone turn in a circle. If you replace the strap with an elastic band, the stone will now move in an ellipse and its speed will no longer be constant; on the other hand, its period will now be constant so it can be used to measure time precisely.” The EPFL has filed two patents for the invention, and they are hard at work trying to miniaturize the mechanism, as they received many inquiries from the watchmaking industry. The clock is on display in the lobby of Neuchâtel Town Hall.
Revue FH, 19 janvier 2017, No 1, page 61
Breitling DC-3 World Tour
The watch company most noted for their aviation watches is undergoing another promotional tour with the help of an iconic and historical aircraft. Last year, the Breitling Jet Team completed their first tour of North America. This year, Breitling has planned a world tour featuring a twin-engine propeller-driven Douglas DC-3, the airplane was most commonly used at the dawn of commercial airlines and by the military during the second world war. The tour will last from March to September with multiple stages to participate in several events and aeronautical shows. This specific DC-3 has been decorated in the Breitling colors and will carry on board 500 limited edition Navitimer Breitling DC-3 watches that will make the entire worldwide trip. Upon completion of the tour, the watches will be sold with a certificate signed by the flight captain. The Breitling-branded DC-3 took its maiden voyage on March 9, 1940, and if the tour is completed successfully, it will become the oldest airplane to complete a round-the-world tour.
Revue FH, 19 janvier 2017, No 1, page 20-21
Rolex Stays World’s Most Reputable Brand
Rolex was rated as the “World’s Most Reputable Brand” for the second year in a row. The ranking, called Global RepTrak 100, is published annually by the Reputation Institute in the first quarter of the year. The Reputation Institute conducts the largest corporate reputation study by collecting and analyzing over 170,000 ratings between seven different categories: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership, and performance. Rolex scored very high in several categories but scored highest for consumer perception of its performance, and products and services. The other companies in the top five were: #2—LEGO, #3—Walt Disney Company, #4—Canon, and #5—Google.
Vacheron Constantin Names New CEO
The Richemont Group announced in January that they would be replacing the CEOs this year in four of their major brands. In February, they appointed Louis Ferla as the new CEO of Vacheron Constantin. Ferla has been with Richemont in various sales and management positions since 2001. He will be replacing Juan-Carlos Torres who has held the position since 2005. Torres will remain with the company as non-executive president and will work side by side with Ferla during the transition period.
Alpina Frederique Constant USA Names President
Jeffrey Cohen has been appointed as the president of Alpina Frederique Constant USA Inc, the organization formed to oversee the Alpina and Frederique Constant brands, since Citizen Watch Co. acquired them last May. Cohen will also remain as the president of Citizen Watch America, which is the US headquarters for the Citizen and Bulova brands. Citizen plans to keep the watch brands as separate companies, but they will merge certain operations in the Unites States. Starting in 2017, “this integration into the Citizen Watch America organization, the Frederique Constant and Alpina Watches brands will greatly benefit from the sales distribution, marketing power, and operational capabilities of the Citizen Group.”
Walter Lange Passes Away
Walter Lange, the great-grandson of A. Lange & Söhne founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, passed away on January 17, 2017 at the age of 92. Walter Lange led the revival of A. Lange & Söhne after the collapse of the East German government in 1989. Mr. Lange attended watchmaking school in 1942 before being drafted into the army. The Lange company, founded in 1845, had been expropriated by the Soviet-led government in 1948, and the brand ceased to exist during that time. He returned to the company in 1945 just before he was forced to turn his family’s company over to the authorities. After a successful resurrection of the brand, The Richemont Group acquired A. Lange & Söhne in 2000. Mr. Lange has received many awards during his lifetime for his service to the industry and was currently serving as brand ambassador and Honorary Chairman at the time of his death.
Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.