Carl F. Bucherer Watches Hit North American Market

Carl F. Bucherer, Switzerland’s leading watch and jewelry retailer, plans to sell its brand of luxury watches in the United States. It has set up a U.S. office with the intention of beginning distribution here on May 1, 2004. Launch of the Carl F. Bucherer Collection in North America (including the United States, the Caribbean, and Canada) was announced at the BaselWorld trade fair last month. A U.S. launch event was being planned at press time. The collection is already distributed in parts of Europe, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.

The brand is part of the Bucherer Group AG, started in 1888 by jeweler Carl Friedrich Bucherer and based in Lucerne, Switzerland. The retailer began producing its own watches in 1919 and is known for meticulous attention to detail, quality, and technological and aesthetic standards. It makes 100,000 watches annually at its plant near Bienne.

In 1998, the company—led by Jörg Bucherer, third-generation family owner of the Group—decided to reposition its watches as a luxury brand and market them internationally. Until then, they were sold primarily in Bucherer stores, though they had an occasional individual U.S. retailer and were briefly sold here by JewelMak, a U.S. jewelry distributor.

The restyled line—”a contemporary interpretation of classic traditional design,” said the company—was renamed the Carl F. Bucherer Collection for the founder and launched in 2001. In 2003, it became an independent entity of Bucherer AG under the name Bucherer Montres SA.

Carl F. Bucherer North America is a joint venture of Jörg Bucherer, Thomas Morf (chief executive officer of Carl F. Bucherer International), and American partners including Ron Stoll, president and CEO. A watchmaker with 25 years’ experience, he owns Dayton, Ohio-based Stoll & Co., a watch service business dealing in high-end Swiss timepieces. Michael Fankhauser, a managing partner, handles marketing and sales and was formerly general manager of Zenith North America. John T. Wenzel, a managing partner and chief of operations, is a stonecutter with 28 years’ experience in the retail and wholesale segments of the U.S. watch and jewelry trades. The U.S. office is located at 1805 S. Metro Parkway, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

Bucherer North America is targeting “fine jewelers and specific watch retailers,” Stoll told JCK, but distribution is limited “to give our retailers exclusivity in their territories. This year the focus is on opening 30 doors on the East Coast. Next year the focus shifts to the West Coast.”

The collection, which includes Patravia chronographs and Alacria women’s watches, retails for $1,700 to $40,000. Stoll expects the average sale to be about $8,000.