Girard-Perregaux, Swiss Watch Company with Rich Horological Heritage, Prepares to Meet Future in the US

The Sowind Group has named a new president of its American operations. Sowind, which owns Swiss luxury watch brands Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard, is planning a US expansion strategy for the Girard-Perregaux brand and the new president will be working closely with Sowind CEO, Michele Sofisti, and Girard-Perregaux managing director, Stefano Macaluso, to oversee this process.

Michael Margolis
Michael Margolis

“I am very excited and honored to join an iconic brand like Girard-Perregaux,” said Michael Margolis, the man who has been chosen to do the job. “I have admired the brand and its heritage from afar for many years.”

Girard-Perregaux does have an impressive and illustrious heritage. Although the Girard-Perregaux name was not established until the year 1856, the brand is generally considered to have been founded in 1791, by an orphan named Jean-François Bautte, when he signed his first watches at the age of 19. Bautte, an industrious youth, learned the various trades associated with watchmaking and became popular for the extra-thin models that he made. When he set up a manufacturing company in Geneva, Bautte decided to keep all of the various watchmaking trades under the one roof, and idea that was quite innovative at the time. In his lifetime, Bautte went on the trade with all the European courts and was even visited by the future Queen Victoria. Since that time, the company that would eventually become Girard-Perregaux has been renowned for innovation, style and prestige.

Right: 1840 Lepine Pendant Watch signed by J.-F Bautte & Co.; Center: 1870 Cross shaped pendant watch; Left: 1889 La Esmerelda Pocket Watch with Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon - owned by the President of Mexico, General Diaz.
Right: 1840 Lepine Pendant Watch signed by J.-F Bautte & Co.; Center: 1870 Cross shaped pendant watch; Left: 1889 La Esmerelda Pocket Watch with Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon – owned by the President of Mexico, General Diaz.

Some historical highlights:

• 1867 – Girard-Perregaux won a prize at the Paris Universal Exhibition for a new tourbillon design. (The tourbillon was developed around 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet as a way to counteract the negative effects that gravity has on the more sensitive pieces of the watch escapement. By placing the escapement in a rotating cage, the pallet fork, balance wheel and hairspring were more insulated against shocks, gravity, magnetism and imbalance within the watch itself. Many variations on the tourbillon have been developed since.)

• 1880 – Constant Girard-Perregaux developed a wristwatch concept for German naval officers. Although Kaiser Wilhelm I ordered the watches and 2,000 were made, wristwatches did not gain in cultural popularity until the following century.

• 1889 – Constant Girard-Perregaux’s masterpiece, the famed Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon won a gold medal at the Exposition Paris Universal Exhibition; this piece so dominated the industry that it was disallowed from further competition in 1900.

• 1930 – Predicted by Girard-Perregaux some fifty years earlier, the wristwatch exceeded the pocket watch in popularity.

• 1945 – The rectangular, art deco inspired model was created. Fifty years later, it was revived and called the Vintage 1945.

Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 with Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon
Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 with Three Gold Bridges Tourbillon

• 1966 – Girard-Perregaux’s in-house R&D team developed the first high-frequency movement, at 36,000 vibrations per hour. These chronometers performed so well that, in 1967, a full 70 percent of certificates issued by the Neuchatel Observatory were awarded to Girard-Perregaux High Frequency Chronometers.

• 1970 – One of the first Swiss watch companies to get on board with the production of quartz wristwatches, Girard-Perregaux set the universal standard frequency at 32,768 Hz.

• 1981 – Girard-Perregaux was also one of the first to return to traditional mechanical timepieces after quartz had turned the Swiss watchmaking industry upside-down. Girard-Perregaux released a pocket watch containing the three gold bridges Tourbillon.

• 1992-1993 – Italian entrepreneur, architect and former racecar driver, Luigi Macaluso took over Girard-Perregaux and signed a “co-branding” agreement with Ferrari.

Girard-Perregaux Ferrari Watch
Ferrari watch face designed by Girard-Perregaux

• 1997 – Villa Marguerite, the building that would house the new Girard-Perregaux museum was purchased.

• 2004 – The first Girard-Perregaux boutique opened in Gstaad.

Margolis, the man who will now bring Girard-Perregaux into the US in the 21st century, was born in the States. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double major in Latin American Studies and Foreign Languages; he is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German. Margolis has held positions at Crest Reprographics and at Nikon. It was while working for TimeZone.com, however, that he developed a passion for luxury watches. He moderated that site for almost 11 years before taking a job with Hublot as US sales director. Now he will be overseeing Girard-Perregaux’s advance into that same marketplace.

“Mike is a remarkable individual, with true passion for the craft,” said Sofisti. “We are glad to have him on board to lead the US team into this new phase of the brand.”

Margolis will assume office on Thursday, March 1.

Breaking The Rules: New Campaign Promise From Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piaget New 2012 Ad Campaign
“To break the rules, you must first master them.”  This little bon mot epitomizes a well-known fact among adepts and innovators in any creative field, from writing to architectural design, fashion and even horticulture. First you must understand implicitly how things work, for then – and only then – can you begin to truly play. Audemars Piguet, the esteemed makers of sumptuous Swiss luxury watches established over a century ago, understands this concept so well that they have adopted the phrase as the cornerstone of their new 2012 ad campaign.
“Over the years we have demonstrated our mastery of the art of haute horology and yet Audemars Piguet has also always been a beacon of innovation and creativity that dares to break new grounds,” said CEO Philippe Merk, explaining the choice. “While the watches that we make are expressions of our respect for the traditions of hand crafted timepieces and while we celebrate the fact that we are the one of the few major Swiss brands still in the hands of the descendants of the original founding families, we are also a modern, progressive company famous for our innovations in technology, the daring use of new materials and bold designs.”
The new campaign was created by Lowe Superculture in London and has two complimentary components: one intended to highlight the technical and design aspects of the watches themselves and the other with a focus on paying homage to the origins and history of the brand itself.
To capture the latter idea, British landscape photographer Dan Holdsworth spent several weeks approximately five and a half miles southeast of Paris, photographing the Swiss landscape near the longtime home of Audemars. So committed are they to this idea that the name of Le Brassus village, in the Vallée de Joux in western Switzerland, has even taken the place of the familiar line in their brand logo: “Le maître de l’horlogerie depuis 1875.”

As for design and innovation, renowned still life photographer, Richard Foster, was brought in to capture various components of the timepieces themselves and visualize the concept of the new tagline. This is accomplished primarily through close-up shots paired with a brief explanation.
The new ad campaign has gone hand in hand with the launch of two new models: the Millenary 4101 and the new Royal Oak. Now in its fortieth year of production, the new Royal Oak – 41mm diameter, stainless steel, blue face – is a cleaner variation on a watch that has seen many interpretations.
Royal Oak Collection - Now and Then
It’s always fun to see an old company roll out a new ad campaign, and it’s particularly nice when a company you like and respect does it well. Cheers to breaking the rules… and doing it right.

Concord Watches: A Look Through History Up To 2012

Concord just happens to be one of the top watch designers of 2012. Today we will take a look through this luxurious brand’s history to discover what makes Concord one of the best designers in the world.

Most fine watch makers manufacture right out of Switzerland, even still today. It’s no wonder than that Concord was established in Biel, Switzerland in 1908. When Concord first started making watches they had American customers in mind and one can still notice that through the brand’s designs even today. Concord is known as being the first “private label” luxurious watch brand to add gems and precious metals to its watches. The Concord brand has also earned the title of being the first watch designer to make a wrist watch made entirely of coins.

Concord made another “first” in 1979. Concord designed the Quartz ultra-thin dress watch, the Delirium, which at the time, was the thinnest time piece to ever be made. The watch measured at 1.98 millimeters thin. Later on, a Delirium 2 was released which happened to be even thinner than the first, measuring at 1.5 millimeters. Before 2007, Concord was best known for also manufacturing the Mariner which was specifically made for the sports and activity watches market. The La Scala targeted the contemporary luxury time piece market and the Saratoga targeted the luxury sports watch public.

Concord C1 Chronograph
Concord C1 Chronograph

The Concord company had a major change of vision in 2007. Concord closed several dealerships due to slow sales and lack of customers. This caused a large gray area in the company’s market and damaged Concord’s reputation. Concord targeted the luxury sport market when they released the C1. The C1’s style and pricing was meant to compete with luxury time pieces such as Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Panerai. The C1 is best described as an extremely large sports luxury watch. From 2007 to present, all Concord models are based off of the C1’s base case design. Concord only has a couple hundred dealers left around the world and was hoping to earn a new name in the world of fine watches. Concord designed two new C1 watches in 2008, the C1 Gravity Tourbillion and the C1 Worldtimer. The C1 won the impressive “Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve” as “Best design of the year 2008.” The C1 is sure to be a watch of 2012, attracting more fans.

Concord gained a new worldwide CEO, Alex Grinberg, in 2009. Grinberg continues to do an outstanding job as CEO for Concord to this day. Concord customers eagerly wait to see what Grinberg will do for 2012

Today, Concord is included as a member in the Movado group. This group is also known for owning Ebel, Coach, Movado, ESQ, Juicy Couture Watches, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste and Huge Boss watches. These watch companies continue to make a large profit in the luxury watch market for 2012 and are very popular amongst the public.

Concord continues to slowly make history. Any of their watches can be purchased at any of the remaining Concord dealerships that are scattered all over the world. It will be interesting to see if 2012 is the comeback that Concord has been waiting for.

 

Audemars Piguet Continues to Make History

Written By: Jessica Mangiameli

Audemars Piguet is known for their luxurious, designer wrist watches. What many people do not know is that Audemars Piguet has been making wrist watch history since 1875 and continues to do so.

Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet
Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet

Audemars Piguet was establish in 1875 when 23-year-old Jules-Louis Audemars teamed up with then 21, Edward-Auguste Piguet. Audemars Piguet is still ran today by the founding families and remains the oldest fine watch manufacture to never have left the founding families circle. The company started out of Switzerland and the Audemars Piguet headquarters is still located there today.

Worn by many celebrities and those with fine tastes, Audemars Piguet is a reliable and stylish brand that makes one lucky to own such a special wrist watch. To establish ones self as a contemporary designer, it usually helps to have been around for a while and to make “firsts” in the industry.

A brief history of Audemars Piguet’s firsts:
1892: Audemars Piguet develops and produces the first minute repeater wristwatch.
1915: With a diameter of just 15.80 mm, Audemars Piguet constructs the smallest five-minute repeater calibre in existence.
1924: Audemars Piguet designs the first jumping-hour wrist watch of its time.
1925: With a calibre of just 81.32 mm, Audemars Piguet creates the world’s thinnest pocket watch.
1934: Audemars Piguet develops the first skeletonised pocket watch.
1946: Audemars Piguet designs the world’s thinnest wristwatch.
1957: The first Audemars Piguet wrist watch with a perpetual calendar is introduced to the public.
1967: With a central rotor, Audemars Piguet introduced the world’s first thinnest selfwinding calibre, measuring at 2.45 mm.
1972: The Birth of the Royal Oak gave Audemars Piguet the title of the first steel high-end sports watch.
1978: Audemars Piguet manufactures the first self-winding ultra-thin perpetual calendar wristwatch with a central rotor.
1986: Audemars Piguet designs the first ultra-thin selfwinding tourbillon wristwatch, measuring at 5.5 mm thick including the case.
1989: The smallest self-winding perpetual calendar watch is manufactured by Audemars Piguet
1994: The first wristwatch with Grande and Petite Sonnerie is created by Audemars Piguet featuring a quarter repeater striking on two gongs.
1996: Audemars Piguet designs the first self-winding Grande complication watch.
1997: The first Grande Sonnerie chiming model is introduced by Audemars Piguet, featuring a minute repeater with three gongs and three hammers.
2000: Audemars Piguet manufactures the first model with Equation of Time, featuring sunrise and sunset times and a perpetual calendar.
2006: Audemars Piguet introduces direct-impulse escapement.
2008: Audemars Piguet create the first watch featuring a carbon case and movement.
2009: Audemars Piguet introduces high-frequency chronometer with Audemars Piguet escapement and double balance-spring.

One can notice that around the World War II era that Audemar’s Piguet really stepped up their game in the watch industry making several new firsts. This could be due to the fact that business was starting to decline due to the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

With Audemars Piguet’s drive to constantly make firsts, they have really put themselves on the map for designer wrist wear. Audemars Piguet has invented several thin watches, making that their specialty in discovery.

The Audemars Piguet watch group is composed of 1,100 employees, 14 distribution subsidiaries and 16 boutiques located all around the world.  The Audemars Piguet manufacture produces about 26,000 time pieces a year, making it a luxury for one to own.

Baume Mercier – 180 years of Fine Watchmaking

Sharing their 180th anniversary by inviting comments from their fans, Baume Mercier posted on Twitter http://twitter.com/BaumeMercier and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BaumeEtMercier as a prelude to a social networking launched during the SIHH in Geneva in January of 2010.

Ms.Simone Gaudard, the great-granddaughter of the founder leads the tour on Facebook and welcomes comments from owners of the Baume Mercier brand.

The Baume family settled in the Swiss mountains in 1542, the craft of fine watch-making has been handed down from generation to generation.  Brothers Louis Victor and Pierre-Joseph Celestin Baume founded the house and registered it as an agency in the Les Bois village in 1830.

The second generation of Baume’s took the watch into a more modern look and won the Kew-Teddington Observatory timing competitions in 1893 scoring 91.9 out of a 100 possible points.  Elegance and precision took the lead in the look of the Baume Mercier brand.

In 1912 William Baume met Paul Mercier, watchmaker and jeweler, which was the beginning of a long relationship and led to the creation of Baume & Mercier in 1918.  Three years later they were acknowledged by Poincon de Geneve in recognition of their exquisite craftsmanship.

Piaget took over the company in 1965 and in 1988 a 60 % stake was sold to Cartier, in 1993 Cartier group became sole owners of both Piaget and Baume Mercier.  With a presence in 75 countries, the line is represented by 220 exclusive retailers worldwide.