Sunday, December 30, 2012

Searching for Biver - Part 2

It can be frustrating to be an outsider.  I suppose on some level we all feel like an outsider at some time or another.  But sometimes it is the outsider who has the clearest vision, and the strongest drive

The upper-echelon of the watch industry is a pretty tight little community, without a lot of room for interlopers from outside of Switzerland.  But there are always exceptions, particularly when someone exceptional is involved.

Enter Peter Stas of Frederique Constant and Alpina.
Courtesy of Frederique Constant
It is not every electronics firm expat that goes on to form one of the strongest young brands - and base it in Switzerland!  Now let's keep a few things in mind here, Frederique Constant makes watches for normal people.  By that, I mean you have a hope in Hell of actually being able to afford one without making a questionable decision in these financially uncertain times!  But that in and of itself is easy, isn't it?  Make an affordable watch - lots of people do that.  But how do you make it desirable?

Well, it is safe to say that a watch can't stand up and speak for itself.  Even mighty Patek Philippe is dependent upon its history, and frankly, its name too!  Don't believe me?  Remove those two magic words from the dial, and you will lose a large portion of your audience.  I'm not saying that's right or wrong, just human nature.

So how do you truly start from nothing, and build something so strong, and so well respected that even the Watch Snob himself must grudgingly give his approval?  Not merely assemble watches, but manufacture movements?  Well, if it were an easy answer we'd all be doing it.  It takes a special sort of person.  And a great deal of this success is down to accessibility, Mr. Stas is out there.  As we say in election season, he's shaking hands, pouring coffee and kissing babies.  You become excited about Frederique Constant and Alpina because HE is excited about it.  You find it interesting because it interests him, and he is interesting to you.

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