Caplan Buys, Plans to Expand Daniel Mink S.A.

Expect to see and hear more about Daniel Mink luxury timepieces in the next two years. The Swiss-made watch brand will “go from a relatively publicity-shy company to one that’s really going to grow nationally and internationally,” says Mitchell Caplan, president of the company.

Caplan bought the 29-year-old brand in February from The Montreux Group, a Swiss holding company, after months of negotiations plus interest in the brand from two other watch companies. Details of the deal weren’t released, but Caplan’s plans to “expand the brand beyond current limits,” as he puts it, are already apparent.

  • A new men’s gold line, called Levantis (including sport chronographs, watches with moonphases, and Greenwich Mean Time models), retailing for $1,600 to $9,000, was unveiled at the BaselWorld 2005 global watch fair in April. Other new products include the stainless-steel automatic Open Balance Squelette, with a skeleton window under the logo and a skeleton caseback, for men and women. Daniel Mink S.A. plans eventually to produce its own movement, too.

  • A public-relations agency to promote the brand has been hired, and a new advertising campaign for the U.S. market, focusing on lifestyle, will be launched this fall.

  • Other plans call for expanding markets in the United States and worldwide.

Aiding these plans are added resources from a Swiss partner, whom Caplan will announce this year, and who will have half ownership of Daniel Mink S.A. “It won’t be another watch company,” he says, “but someone who is indirectly involved in the watch business.”

The company, which has 17 employees, has moved its Swiss headquarters from Zurich to Geneva and will continue to produce about 10,000 watches a year (almost all mechanical). Its new Swiss address is Daniel Mink S.A., 5c, route des Jeunes, Case postale 1541, CH-1221, Geneva 26, Switzerland. Its U.S. address and telephone number are unchanged: Daniel Mink, 560 Main St. Suite 2A, Allenhurst, NJ 07711; (732) 663-9550;

Daniel Mink watches are now sold in 14 countries (including the United States and in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia). “We plan to greatly strengthen our business in those markets over the next couple of years and perhaps add a couple more,” Caplan says. In the United States specifically, the watch is sold in 75 fine-jewelry outlets. Caplan would like to increase that number to as many as 200 in the next few years.

The company (which does its own style and technical designing) will bring more of the production process in house. This year, it began performing all of its own diamond and sapphire setting and some of its watch assembly, and it also has begun work on producing its own mechanical movement, which could be ready in 2006.

The Montreux Group, former owner, acquired Daniel Mink Watch Corp. in 1998. Caplan has led the watch company for seven years. Under his direction, it made significant changes in product design, displays and packaging, marketing (including co-op), and pricing that took it into the luxury-watch segment. The brand also shifted its focus to mechanical timepieces and expanded its product lines, with chronographs, complications, ultra-thin watches, and fashion-forward watches for women.

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