Watches: Case in Point

  • James D. Malcolmson

The cases of Carl F. Bucherer’s watches are noteworthy for more than just their eye-catching design; they are media for flaunting the company’s jewelry and watchmaking skills. As its name suggests, the brand is a division of Bucherer, the Swiss jewelry retail giant that has been making watches for its own stores for nearly a century. Two years ago, Bucherer introduced its own watch brand, Carl F. Bucherer, with a respectable lineup of jeweled and mechanical timepieces containing supplied base movements. The latest collection is further distinguished by several intriguing ladies’ pieces and a practical travel watch, the Patravi TravelTec GMT, featuring an exclusive movement with a novel third time-zone mechanism that is visible through a window on the side of the watch.

“Complicated watches are becoming a commodity in our industry,” says CEO Thomas Morf. “GMT watches, for example, are commonplace and are technically mostly the same. So we decided to create our Patravi TravelTec GMT watch with the third time-zone mechanism positioned along the edges of the case rather than on the movement itself.”

An exclusive complication from movement and module specialist Dubois Depraz tracks the watch’s two primary time zones. The separate, proprietary third time-zone mechanism is easily adjusted back and forth with the push of a button on the side of the watch. If a time-zone adjustment reflects the crossing of the international date line, another feature will automatically change the date. “We want to be innovative,” adds Morf, “but we also want to be practical.”

Such practicality—a characteristic absent from most complicated watch designs—can be attributed to Bucherer’s Swiss-German background and its retail experience. Having listened to customer requests for user-friendly features over the years, Bucherer has a perspective that is unique among manufacturers, who, it seems, sometimes design watches without much consideration for convenience.

Carl F. Bucherer, a Lucerne native, opened his first local shop in the 1880s, a time when the Swiss resort was becoming a favorite destination for European aristocracy. His business grew so rapidly that his sons, Carl Eduard, who owned a watchmaking business in Berlin, and Ernst, a watchmaker to the German imperial court, returned to Lucerne to work with their father. The retailer began making delicate jewelry watches in 1919. As it expanded its watch production in the 1930s and ’40s, the company started producing its own movements, but that business faltered after the introduction of quartz in the 1970s.

One of Carl F. Bucherer’s impressive new ladies’ pieces, Tribute to Mimi, recalls the parent company’s glamorous heyday between the World Wars, referencing the Deco period without becoming trite or anachronistic. The watch was named for Mimi Bucherer-Heeb, the founder’s niece by marriage who perished in 1927 when her ship, the Principessa Malfalda, sank on its way from Europe to South America. She was returning from a Swiss buying trip, carrying a consignment of jewelry and watches for the company’s new South American branch.

The commemorative piece’s expertly proportioned tonneau case, which holds a manually wound tonneau-shaped movement from the 1920s, is set with 108 Top Wesselton diamonds. While other companies boast about the engineering acrobatics that occur within their watches, Carl F. Bucherer demonstrates its expertise on the outside for all to see.

Carl F. Bucherer
800.395.4306
www.carl-f-bucherer.com

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