Glashutte Original’s Saxony excellence

By admin Thursday, 02 July 2015 4:37 PM

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Glashutte Original has earned a worldwide reputation for the highest standards and excellence in the German art of watchmaking since more than 170 years. Passion, patience, rare skills and experience are dominant in its craft. Aviamost’s Fady Boustany met Yann Y Gamard, President Glashutte Original at the leading watch and jewellery event Baselworld 2015 to discover what makes it tick and the brand’s plans for the future

How do you position Glashutte Original, as a German or a Swiss brand?

It is a German brand. It’s a German alternative to the watch industry and we are very flattered and we are very happy to sit next to our Swiss colleagues and to be accepted. But it’s a German brand and it has all the DNA of a German brand.

And the brand is 100% Made in Germany?

94 – 95% is made in Germany but we have the advantage of belonging to the Swatch Group so we can collaborate with them on engineering projects and we also take some pieces from them as they are the experts due to their high quality level, but the rest is made in Germany.

Even alligators also we do not grow in Germany! So there are a few things that are not grown 100%.

After the depreciation of the Swiss Franc by 20 per cent, were you affected by it?

On our price positioning worldwide, no we were not affected because we are a Euro-based brand. But we were affected in Switzerland. We had to decrease the prices in Swiss Francs. We kept the Euro prices, but if we did not adapt prices to the Swiss Franc we could not have sold watches in Switzerland. So from that stand point of view we were affected but that’s the only place we had to decrease Euro prices.

And I guess the Middle East has not affected you except in a positive way as it is based on the Dollar?

Our pricing is fortunately or not fortunately an issue. Our biggest issue is supply. We are well perceived and well positioned in the Middle East. Fortunately the pricing is not an issue. The exchange rate did not affect us.

Currencies will go up and down and there is an opportunistic moment where people will buy rather here or rather there. But we don’t have such a big supply. We have less than 300 points of sale worldwide and we are very selective and very exclusive and the people are very happy our price positioning is reasonable. We are a top quality brand with reasonable prices and that helps us to be appreciated and that helps us.


We have noticed that there are a lot of logical prices and there are a lot of price reductions in the market this year. You have the Euros 4000 – 5000 watch and then next comes the high end Euros 200,000 - 300,000. The Euros 20,000 – 30000 sector is not there anymore.

We have always had a price pyramid. We have exceptional unique pieces in the Euros 300,000 – 200,000 Euros, the very complicated watches in the Euros 100,000 bracket, we have the iconic watches at Euros 20,000 - 35,000 special German chronometry watches and perpetual calendars at 20000 – 30000 and a strong basis of Euros 8 – 12,000 steel collection. We have always had 2/3 of our watch collections in steel and 1/3 of our quantity in gold. I noticed that this year, more brands produce steel watches. Perhaps that protected us against the crisis.

What are your new launches in 2015?

We unveiled a technical highlight this year: the Senator Cosmopolite, which is equipped with our new self-winding Calibre 89-02. The success of our Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon prompted us to further develop the idea of the ultimate world-time watch and to integrate a display of all 37 time zones into this new timepiece. Although the mechanism is complex and capable of showing half-hour and quarter-hour time differences, this watch is intuitively operable and readily legible.

Naturally, we’ve also devoted ample thought to style-conscious watch-loving women, so 2015 brings expansions in our successful Pavonina line. The feminine Pavonina too, which was originally inspired by a Glashütte ladies’ watch from the 1920s, appeals to female watch connoisseurs with its characteristic pillow-shaped case. The seven new models that we’re introducing this year augment the existing Pavonina line: their styles range from sleekly elegant to opulently glamorous. These models are available in stainless steel, bi-colour and red-gold variants with artistically crafted dials, optionally embellished with diamonds, from our own dial manufactory.

Have you introduced any new materials this year?

No. We are still into steel and gold. No ceramics or anything like that.

How was the Chinese market?

The Chinese market for us is a key market. They are very informed. They like German quality, German engineering, servicing and finishing. They have always been very fond of it. And in the Middle East they representing a big part of our success for instance, in Dubai Mall we are very successful. They follow us and we follow them. They like the attention we put to each watch. They take 2 – 5 minutes looking at the dial which is very simple and very readable. The backside is where the beauty is so 25 minutes is spent inspecting the back individually by hand. This movement has around 440 components and each is finished by hand and assembled by hand. Our factory is open for visits we receive every year receive 7000 requests but of course we do not let so many or we would go crazy. But there is more than 1000 visitors who can see the attention paid to each aspect of our watches, so there is a transparency. They expect German watches to be of high quality.

They also like to compare a lot.

They are very knowledgeable. Very knowledgeable.

We know in the German industry there is your brand and there is Lange. What makes you different from Lange?

German Original is called Glashütter Uhrenbetriebebit which is the crib of the German watch industry. During the Soviet occupation era it encompassed the whole of the watch industry but after the war some decided to fly their own wings and Lange is one of them. In the quality, techniques and engineering is the same in the way of making there is a lot of similarity. In the quality, finishing, care, attention to detail, service and robustness we have stayed close to the DNA of Glashutte. We have decided and adopted a different price policy also as we want the consumer to wear the watches we make, while in the looks we have our signature style. Our perpetual calendar offered at Euros 20,000 is perhaps the most achieved in the industry. It’s very difficult to do better than that in the industry. And you do not need to charge it at night!

It’s a very simple movement to use with one crown.

How do you feel about the Apple watch?

I’m happy that Apple decided to make a watch. But it’s still a consumer electronics instruments which you have to change every day and do technological updates. But it’s not a watch.

We are also a case, dial and movement manufacturer.

The trend is some big brands like TAG and Bulgari have a small chip inside to connect to security. Is it a trend?

You’re talking about technical enhancements that can be embedded in watches to enhance them. Swatch has collaborations. The smart watches we are talking about you have to charge them every day.

How is the Russian business doing? Are you affected?

We are not strong there as the Germans, the Americans and Chinese took up all of our productions so we were fortunately not affected.  And we have some good selling points in St. Petersburg which suffered some price changes.  

We notice in the SIHH there was a return to the classic.

We have a very distinctive collection. We launched few years ago a vintage watch to mark the 170th anniversary. So there are two trends – one is steel and the other is vintage watches the 70’s and the 60’s.

Considering your drawbacks in production…

We have three factories, so we have sq m and materials. We have tripled our staff but doubled our production, but it’s the people which are our biggest challenge. The seniors need to train the juniors and when they were doing that the production went down. There are three schools. I have more than six months of back orders though we have doubled our production.  

So what do you see in the coming year?

To continue to stay true to our delivery as we are happy and we are fortunate that some countries like China are condemned to grow. We were the best kept secret in Europe and now we are the best kept secret in the world. We completed extensive renovation and expansion work at our manufacture in 2014. We also successfully introduced our new chronograph Calibre 37 worldwide and further expanded our presence in Europe and Asia. Demand for our watches continues to exceed our production capacity, so our greatest challenge for 2015 will be to promptly satisfy the continually growing demand.