Carl F. Bucherer watch
At The Watch Press we take great satisfaction from bringing to your attention, some watch brands whose representation, although being available through their network of dealers worldwide, are not so heavily marketed so as to lose most of their exclusivity, mystique and personality. It is an obvious fact to state that almost any product which is mass produced is not going to carry the same exclusivity as one which is produced individually and without a client profile database to reference.
And so we come to the watches produced by the Bucherer family manufacture, which today bears the name of its founder, Carl F Bucherer.
The Bucherer name first appeared over the doorway of Carl F Bucherer, jeweller and watchmaker of distinction, in the centre of the cosmopolitan Swiss city of Lucerne in 1888. Established as a family business along with his wife Luise – herself an astute and focussed business woman, the new business would soon benefit from both the constant stream of international visitors, travellers and tourists who were drawn to the charms of the breathtaking vistas and features of the beautiful city and its’ surrounds, as well as from the quality of the craftsmanship and the level of professionalism which were on offer at the ‘magasin’ Bucherer. An international reputation for fine timepieces and jewellery was establishing its’ first footings.
The cornerstone for the protracted lifeline of the company was to be found in the dynamic husband and wife partnership and the sense of strength in the family business. Building up a network among other successful professionals locally through their enthusiastic involvement in charities, sharing with those less fortunate the benefit of their acumen and drive which would see the establishment of a charity shop in the city, Carl-Friedrich and Luise Bucherer advanced their business at the same time as becoming popular, conscientious and hard-working philanthropic members of Lucerne society.
With continuity and self-governance of the successful business in mind, the couples’ two sons, Carl-Eduard and Ernst, were inducted into the family company. Both men had followed their parents’ passion and, having travelled and worked internationally and learned their respective trades as goldsmith and watchmaker, set about expanding the business which bore their fathers’ name.
Following the bleak years of the Great War, with the business operation now consolidated and the footings for continuity in place, the company C. Bucherer was formally established in 1919.
To coincide with the official launch of the company, a collection of ladies wristwatches was unveiled bearing the C. Bucherer name. This was the first Bucherer collection and reflected the changing direction of watch design. Up until this era, most watches had been manufactured as pocket watches, as it was believed that such fine and delicate instruments should be protected from the elements – and envious, unscrupulous eyes! The popularity of the new, modern wristwatch was on the rise as the Bucherer watches were announced.
The new collection represented the Bucherer skills traits of high quality watchmaking and contemporary jewellery design. One element of this lay in the fact that the wristwatch did not possess the same constraints of the pocket watch and the case did not have to be round, which allowed for a much broader design scope.
The distinctive styling and attention to detail exhibited in the collection led to a rapid rise in prominence for the new watchmaker and within a year C Bucherer were unveiling another selection of exquisite ladies watches.
As the 1920s roared past, so the style, quality and individuality now associated with the C Bucherer watch helped elevate the status of the family-run watchmaker to the highest levels, and demand for their watches at home in Lucerne and abroad meant that the decade saw Bucherer production at record levels.
The Twenties also saw the innovative spirit of the Patron reach out into the manufacture of timepieces which were specifically designed to cater for the growth of the motor car. A large, dashboard-mounted manual-winding watch with eight-day power reserve proved the versatility of the Bucherer company, and a canny eye for opportunity.
1933 brought sad news in the announcement of the death of the founder Carl Friedrich Bucherer (b.1865). His two sons, by now long since returned to Lucerne to oversee the spectacular growth of their fathers’ business, took exclusive control of the company, becoming a public listed company and calling in their extensive network of contacts abroad to open more branches overseas.
Having created beautiful ladies wristwatches for some years, under the new stewardship of Carl-Eduard and Ernst Bucherer the company also began to manufacture watches for men. Their post-war chronograph and big date watches were an immediate hit with the sporting type, and in true Bucherer form, not only were the watches functional, they also bore the attention to styling which had previously been a signature of the early collections. A Bucherer watch was a very desirable item indeed.
Following the hostilities of war, thousands of returning US servicemen passed through Switzerland and many Bucherer watches found their way across the Atlantic which inadvertently would raise the profile of the brand in the United States.
Some years later, in 1964, Bucherer had a tremendous PR boost when US President Richard Nixon, on a state visit, paid a visit to the Lucerne shop and left as the owner of a new Bucherer Chronometer!
1967 began with the acquisition of the respected Credo manufacture of chronometer movements and by the following year, Bucherer chronometer watches were leaving the production facility at a rate of 15,000 pieces a year, seconded in volume only to Rolex and Omega!
When the quartz wave crashed over the Swiss mechanical watch industry at the end of the sixties and through the seventies, Bucherer were in a strong position, having joined forces with ten other watchmaking companies as the Centre for Electronic Watchmaking way back in 1962, to develop the famed Beta-21 quartz movement, which would end up powering the watches of no less than 15 different manufacturers!
Armed with the Beta-21, Bucherer continued to produce stylish watches, without losing ground to their larger competitiors and instead of playing catch-up, the marque enjoyed strong growth in this period. Crucially, Bucherer had also continued to produce high quality mechanical watches throughout the era of quartz dominance when other manufactures, large and small, who had turned their backs on the new, cheap upstart quartz watch, suddenly found themselves completely out of touch with the groundswell of demand and embroiled in a battle for survival – in which many would fall from their pedestals and crumble.
The company moved into its’ third generation of family involvement in 1976 with the announcement that Jörg Bucherer would assume the running of the business, which over the following years would evolve into the Bucherer Group. Today he remains the owner.
As the 1990s saw a gradual swing back to the mechanical wristwatch by the growing numbers of enthusiasts, who were prepared to invest in a watch for more than their ability to tell the time, once again Bucherer quickly stepped up to the mark with innovative creations which included multiple complications such as the Archimedes Perpetual Calendar, which uniquely featured the ability to set each function through the single crown.
Under the direction of Jörg Bucherer the family marque saw in the new century with a significant company rebrand. For the first time in eighty years, the name of the founder, Carl F Bucherer, would adorn the watches as the company moved into the new millennium.
The rebranding was much more than an exercise in change for changes sake. Carl F Bucherer as a brand was to place an emphasis on the technical innovation and watchmaking ability of the company as a manufacture, the status afforded to those companies who designed and built complicated movements from scratch.
New models were presented at the major watch fairs, such as BaselWorld, to glowing reviews, and little wonder either. The watches produced by the Carl F Bucherer manufacture are distinctive, attractive, functional, complicated and as individual as any watches ever made by the family company.
A Carl F Bucherer wristwatch says so much more about its owner than just being a symbol of success or wealth sometimes associated with other larger brands. Owning one of these watches displays personality traits which could be found in the man himself, for he too was not one to follow the herds, his vision not simply to produce and sell. As a true philanthropist who saw the value in giving, he also gave his customers something above the ordinary, something special which also gives back to its’ owner the comforting sense of wearing a watch which combines technical excellence with classic design.
It’s been quite a remarkable journey for a family company, but clearly Carl Friedrich and Luise Bucherer, were remarkable people who were ably represented by their own kin through successive generations.
If you’re not overly familiar with Carl F Bucherer, you really should be finding out more…..
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