If you wanted to put a positive spin on the current crisis, you could point out the new-found desire we have to be impulsive. Ever since the first crisis management was put in place, the time came for us all to reflect, press the reset button, or to face up to long-avoided challenges and put them back on our agendas.
Carl F. Bucherer has grown both substantially and sustainably over the last ten years, progressing from around 6,500 watches a year to well over 30,000. To this end, a new production facility opened in Lengnau in 2016, with the aim of continuing to sustainably drive growth. Furthermore, the Swiss family business achieved its highest ever sales in 2019. January 2020 also got off to a promising start – then came the crisis.
Over the past few months, therefore, existing processes at Carl F. Bucherer have also been examined and evaluated. However, it is also important not only to critically review everything, but also “to look at the good processes that already exist and develop them further, by means of evolution,” states Uwe Liebminger, CMO and Deputy CEO of Carl F. Bucherer. After all, the strategy of recent years was clearly correct, as can be seen from both growth and customer feedback, adds Liebminger.
One key topic that has certainly been fuelled by the crisis is the trade fair concept of the future. Due to the cancellation of Baselworld, the management of CFB also had to think faster than they might have liked about their strategy for the future. “After exhibiting at Baselworld for more than 32 years, we now had to find a new way to launch our products adequately on a global scale,” says Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer. Consequently, the presentation of future new products will no longer take place at a single major event, but rather at several exclusive events.
CFB is currently celebrating the start of a new trade fair in Geneva, where, from August 26 to 29, Geneva Watch Days will be presenting the latest products from Carl F. Bucherer and a number of other brands. With this new concept, the important thing is that Carl F. Bucherer approaches the customer, rather the other way around, says Uwe Liebminger. Moeri adds that “with regional brand experiences, we will be even closer to our customers in the future.” Therefore, following Geneva, there will be further locations in Europe, China and the USA, with the aim of remaining small and exclusive while always keeping customers involved and included. In addition to crisis management, reflection and restructuring, CFB has also been concentrating primarily on what it has been really good at for over a century – building mechanical watches. Let us now present the highlights of the Geneva Watch Days.
Patravi ScubaTec Black
The dark black ScubaTec Black was already introduced back at the beginning of this year. “The watch deserves more attention than it received as a result of Covid-19. That’s why we decided to present it to the public once again,” explains Liebminger. For Carl F. Bucherer, it has not only been its interpretation of a diver’s watch since 2013, but is also one of its most important innovations for 2020.
This is because part of the proceeds from the new model will once again go to a project close to the company’s heart; the “Manta Trust” foundation, which is committed to preserving manta rays and their habitats. It can be regarded as a continuation of the Black Manta Special Edition from 2019, but is somewhat more reduced in its design, as it does not have a two-tone or Manta Ray motif on the dial – rather, it floats above the back of the case in the form of an engraving.
Also, in the new version, the rubber strap’s textile insert is made of 100% recycled plastic bottles taken from the world’s polluted oceans. This is of course a good contribution to environmental protection and sustainability; however, this would ideally be extended to the other collections, as well as packaging. That said, CFB is also now planning to use recycled materials for straps in other collections.
The 44.6 mm case is DLC-coated titanium. The bezel, on the other hand, is made of scratch-resistant ceramic. The blackened hands – just like the hour-markers – have a beautiful, bright blue shining Super-LumiNova that is rather pleasing. Thanks to the screw-down crown and helium valve, the watch is water-resistant to a depth of 500 m.
The automatic calibre CFB 1950.1 (base ETA 2824) is COSC-certified and has a power reserve of 38 hours. Although the case looks quite bulky, the watch is surprisingly comfortable to wear on the wrist thanks to its short lugs. Its price: 6,400 euros.
Manero Flyback in Blue
In a recently published article, we gave high praise to the Manero Flyback in Blue, and went into pretty extensive detail as to why. The watch is just pretty damn cool – from its clean and simple design to perfect execution. The radiant sunburst blue dial plays a part in this, as does the nine-link metal bracelet (or alternatively, a blue textile strap), which has recently transformed this model into a versatile dress watch.
With this watch, Carl F. Bucherer has achieved the balancing act of not turning its Flyback Chrono into a sports model, but preserving the values of the Manero line, all the while breathing new life into it. The dial design remains clear and well-balanced thanks to the bi-compax arrangement of the subsidiary dials at 3 and 9 o’clock and the date at 6 o’clock. Plus, with its open-worked Dauphine hands, the scales below remain easily legible.
The automatic caliber CFB 1970 (based on ETA 7750) was extensively modified and equipped with a column wheel control (instead of a slide control). Additionally, the movement was finished with a Côtes de Genève stripe on the rotor and plate, as well as a pearl cut (Perlage) on the plate and bridges. The case measures 43 mm, which is a bit too large for some watch wearers.
If you are looking for something more slender, you should look at the “Manero” line of models from Autodate, Love or Peripheral. With the Boutique Edition (Ref. 00.10917.08.53.88), there is even a version with a blue dial and bracelet in 40.6 mm. With a steel bracelet, the new Manero Flyback in blue costs 5,900 euros, or with a textile strap 5,500 euros.
Heritage Tourbillon DoublePeripheral in White Gold
In 2018, Carl F. Bucherer celebrated its 130th anniversary. To mark the special occasion, Sascha Moeri announced the launch of the new Heritage line. Inspired by various historical designs from the rich history of the Lucerne-based manufacture, the line aims to demonstrate the watchmaking expertise of the horology house. Since its foundation in 1888, this has made it a highly respected address for collector’s watches. Many people are unaware that CFB produced the first Art Deco ladies’ watches as early as 1919. In the 1930s, they then started to develop its first men’s wristwatches. This year, CFB is complementing its Heritage Tourbillon DoublePeripheral in rose gold with a version in white gold, which, like its sibling, is limited to 88 pieces.
The watch is distinguished primarily by its in-house CFB T3000 caliber, as both the tourbillon and automatic winding are peripherally mounted. This patented technology is used exclusively at CFB. The cage of the minute tourbillon is not supported by bridges, but by three invisible ceramic ball bearings, making it appear to float. The CFB T3000 caliber is a further development of the CFB A1000, a calibre first launched in 2008, which was the first to incorporate a peripherally mounted oscillating weight in a series-produced watch. It was also the step for CFB in becoming a manufacture. The peripherally rotating oscillating weight is made of 22-carat rhodium-plated rose gold, while the escapement and escape wheel are made of silicon. Furthermore, the CFB T3000 caliber is COSC-certified.
Notably, DoublePeripheral technology was already being used in the Manero collection six months before the launch of the Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral (early 2018). However, it is the many subtle details that distinguish the Heritage Tourbillon Double Peripheral from its Manero counterpart. On the back, an ornate movement bridge in 18-carat white gold is revealed, with an engraving of the baroque city of Lucerne. At the center of the engraving is the Lucerne Chapel Bridge and a floating swan as a reminder of Schwanenplatz, where Carl Friedrich Bucherer opened his first specialist store in 1888. The engraving alone takes a full two weeks of manual labor. On each of the limited-edition watches, the swan is in a different place, making each watch unique.
The dial is decorated with a sunburst pattern and an inward circular space. The applied hour-markers have a rhomboid shape and complement each other harmoniously, alongside the Dauphine hands and long slender lugs. The tourbillon is very subtly integrated into the simple, clear design of the dial and its 42.5 mm case. A tourbillon can quickly appear too ostentatious in an elegant dress watch – but this is definitely not the case here. Its price: 92,888 euros.
Patravi TravelTec Color Edition Four Seasons
At a time in which a crisis is severely limiting our travel options, CFB has nevertheless not allowed itself to pass up the opportunity to expand its popular TravelTec collection and add some colour to the darker moments of the past few months. Four bright and shiny versions represent the four seasons: Green stands for spring, yellow for summer, orange for autumn and blue for winter.
The special feature of the line is its GMT function with a third time zone. The display of the third time zone is set via an internal 24-hour dial. This can be operated using the mono-pusher at 10 o’clock. At the push of a button, the rotation is in hourly steps in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, depending on whether you are travelling east or west. The process can even be observed playfully through a window in the side of the case.
The COSC-certified CFB 1901 caliber is not entirely an in-house movement, but the sophisticated mechanism for the three-time zone display was developed in-house by CFB and patented in 2005. The hour hand and date display can be safely moved backwards and forwards independently of the hand movement.
The numerals for the date are milled out of a disc instead of being printed on it, giving the date display a little more depth and structure, while a magnifying glass helps with readability. It also seems as if the date display has been slightly reworked. While it looked rather crowded on the previous models of the hour marker at 4 o’clock, it now sits nicely between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Although the watches are undeniably loud, the dials radiate a little more balance even at first glance. In the past, they quickly seemed overloaded by the combination of a plethora of displays and several colourful accents. The dial colour is now clearly in focus while the numbers, indices, hands and lettering blend discreetly into its design. Price: 9,300 euros.
Visions for the future
According to Carl F. Bucherer, there needs to be a shift in the nature of the buying experience; “Swiss watch brands have to operate in an extremely competitive environment. Those who succeed in perfectly synchronizing the communicative launch of new products with their availability on the market definitely have an advantage.” In keeping with the brand’s motto, “Purchase with Purpose”, Carl F. Bucherer also places issues such as sustainability at the top of its customers’ agenda. The response to the recycled straps has been very positive, which demonstrates that customers are interested in such matters and even expect them from companies when buying a watch.
2020 will certainly not be a new record year for Carl F. Bucherer, and the steady growth in production will probably start to falter. But the fact that the company has not once stood still in recent months, and is now able to present its customers with a good handful of exciting new products, definitely deserves recognition.