Transparency is a key concern for Eva and Oliver Ebstein, the second generation of owners of the Chronoswiss brand, founded in 1983 by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang and his wife from whom they acquired it two years ago. So much so indeed that they have decided to open up their workshops to the public and to install glass panels instead of the traditional partitions between offices and corridors of their brand-new worldwide headquarters at the heart of Luzern. The Unionsgebäude, an historical building on the famous Löwenstrasse leading to the lake, is symbolic of the city and has been the scene of many different activities for over a century. It even houses Luzern’s largest ballroom. Strategically placed between the city’s second bus station and the luxury hotels lining the quaysides, these premises now provide a perfect setting for Chronoswiss which set up its offices in one wing in April ; and its assembly and decoration workshops in another in June. Around 40 people, half of them involved in production, have now congregated in this 900 sq.m. area after being formerly scattered between four different sites in three cities. Speaking from the meeting room providing generous views of the surrounding spaces, and leaning on a customized table featuring a precious wood top depicting a world map, Oliver Ebstein emphasizes the two-fold value of this relocation : operational synergies and excellent marketing positioning in one of the Swiss cities where the most watches are sold. “Chronoswiss is the Luzern-based brand”. A passionate watchmaking enthusiast since his teenage years and a devotee of the brand since he began collecting watches, he has chosen to open up a learning area to the public as of this summer. The aim is not only to reveal the expertise cultivated by Chronoswiss in the field of enameling (notably the plique-à-jour technique), skeleton-working and guilloché, but also to explain the guiding principles of the watch industry. Artisans in the workshops, digital screens and 3D displays thereby offer visitors a journey into the watchmaking universe. All these ‘ambassadors’ from around the world further strengthen the reputation of Chronoswiss, whose Swiss Luxury Lifestyle slogan makes an ideal fit within the context of the surrounding mountains and the boats in the harbor made by Swiss shipyards. Distinctive lugs and a generous crown continue to forge the visual identity of the watches, along with enameled dials and a skeleton movement – and all this at an affordable quality/price ratio. The 5,000-unit threshold has been reached and the brand is aiming for organic growth after trimming the range from 129 references in 2013 to 70. Depending on the collections, 10 to 20% of the models are equipped with in-house calibers featuring varying degrees of complexity, including the brand’s iconic regulator-type movement. Luzern welcomes an inimitable new address.
Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.