Saturday, April 6, 2024

Watch Brand Tours I Wish I Could Take

In terms of factory visits, I have been to Switzerland a bunch, France a little bit, Japan twice, and Germany never. And seeing as NOMOS is based there, all the better reason never to go ; )

But the other day I was a bit bored, and was reading through watch brand websites. And for whatever reason, I stumbled upon the Zeitwinkel website, and must admit I am now a fan - at least of their communication!

Courtesy of Zeitwinkel

If I have read the info correctly, Zeitwinkel is located in Saint Imier, which if you travel as I often do from Biel/Bienne to La Chaux-de-Fonds, you will pass and see on the left the tiny, makeshift facilities of a tiny player in the Swiss watch industry -

Well, I guess we all have to start somewhere ; )

Zeitwinkel makes some pretty great watches, such as this little bijoux -

Courtesy of Zeitwinkel

But the main reason why I really want to hop off the train next time in Saint Imier? I have got to me the people behind the brand philosophy!

I spend my days (and nights) reading through really painful press releases about celebrity partners, heritage, and timepieces beyond compare (which rhymes with savoir faire, another painfully overused phrase in these press releases)

So I suspect that the folks at Zeitwinkel probably have a pretty solid-state bullshit meter, and that, gentle reader, is why I want to see what it is all about.

And so, gentle reader, I would like to share with you some of the best of the bon mots found in the Zeitwinkel brand philosophy, just as they appear -


We consider watchmaking to be a craft worth preserving.

Do you know the chocolate commercials where a confectioner is lovingly filling some chocolates or carefully stirring a bowl of chocolate? In reality, both the chocolates and the vast majority of watches are made as automatically and as efficiently as possible. So the watchmaker who assembles a watch from scratch usually only appears in the visitor center or in advertisements.

At Zeitwinkel and at a few independent manufactories, however, the craft is actually still practiced traditionally. Of course, we also manufacture precision parts on machines that can do this more accurately than any human. However, the assembly of all movements and all watches is done exclusively by hand. This is necessary if only because our movements cannot be made by robots due to the German silver plates.

Manual work is not a matter of dogma for our watchmakers. But if something is more precise, better or simply more beautiful to make by hand, then we will make it by hand.

Swiss Made

We believe in “Swiss Made”!

For any watch to be labeled "Swiss Made", in simplified terms, at least 60% of the manufacturing costs of the watch as well as the movement must have been incurred in Switzerland. This rule, however, refers to the costs, not the work involved. So the cheaper it is to buy components and prefabricated assemblies in Asia, the easier it is to meet this requirement in view of the high Swiss wage level.

At the same time, neither components manufactured in Asia nor the watches made from them are automatically inferior; after all, this approach can be found with some of the best-known brands. It may be that as a corporate brand in a competitive market segment, it is not possible to meet the targets set by headquarters in any other way.

From our point of view, a customer who spends a considerable amount of money on a "Swiss Made" watch would indeed expect a product manufactured in Switzerland. At Zeitwinkel, we are therefore very transparent and, whenever possible, have our components that we don’t make ourselves manufactured by partners directly in our region.


We do not grant discounts - period.

With a little skill, you can easily negotiate a discount at most jewelry stores, even for watches of well-known brands. This is often less due to the negotiating skills of the customer than to the inventory pressure of the jeweler.

After all, the manufacturer's new collection will arrive soon, and if the watches of the rather unpopular group brand are not sold, the attractive models will also no longer be supplied.

This cycle of model changes, bundling of corporate brands, inventory pressure and cash flow concerns of the jeweler on the one hand, and quarterly financial statements of the luxury groups on the other hand, creates the need to sell ever more watches. This is often only achieved through discounts, especially since many watches have an expiration date thanks to the frequent model changes.

Gray market dealers and specialized internet platforms regularly act as saviors of hard-pressed jewelers, but do not tend to contribute to the retention of value of the watches traded.

We do not condemn any retailers who optimizes their sales figures under such pressure. However, it does not reflect our philosophy and we would not be able to increase our production volume sufficiently so the remaining margins would still be enough to pay our expenses.

In other words, our watches offer excellent value for their price. We would have to raise our prices significantly in order to participate in that game of frequent discounts and still be able to afford our level of quality.

If you are planning to purchase a high quality watch from us that will hold its value over the long term, you will be pleased to hear that discounts are not part of our calculation.

brand ambassadors

Even after many years, we still don't have celebrity "brand ambassadors" or a circle of well-known "friends of the brand."

Perhaps it's because we don't understand why we should pay anyone to like us. More correctly, that she or he pretends to like our watches.

We don't have the marketing budget for the really big names anyway. And what if our famous ambassador steps into an all-too-human faux pas? Or if he or she is not really credible in terms of their newly acquired watch expertise?

So we continue to rely on satisfied owners of a Zeitwinkel watch to tell their friends about us. And that our customers require neither an actress nor an athlete to find our watches interesting.


Sometimes we are asked what Zeitwinkel stands for. In the ensuing dialog, it becomes clear that the question is about which sport or exciting activity the brand should be associated with. The answer is as simple as can be: nothing or whatever you want!

In the search for structure or the fulfillment of fantasies, even intelligent people sometimes get themselves involved in strange pursuits. How else could the anti-aging industry achieve such sales? And does anyone really believe that that top athlete wears the sponsored watch even in training when no one is watching?

Quite a few of the common PR stories about watches refer to long-gone fame, are arbitrarily chosen or completely pulled out of thin air. Of course, that actor looks impressive in front of a fighter jet. But if you want to feel like the agent with the exciting life and the gun, the way is probably not through purchasing a watch, but through acting school.

Zeitwinkel simply stands for excellent watches at the highest level of craftsmanship. We decided not to buy an old brand name and therefore do not refer to an alleged tradition. Our watches will not turn you into a better tennis player, an astronaut or a helicopter pilot. In any case, we don't think you would believe any of that anyways.

P.S.: Better take off your mechanical watch when playing tennis or golf or when doing loops in a fighter jet. The mechanical movement will thank you!

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