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Cimier: doing things differently: new watch brands have to stand out or they will be buried under the avalanche of established brands with superior marketing budgets. So when Montres Cimier, located in Baar, was relaunched in 2003, founder and managing director Martin Bartsch decided that the brand's success depended on doing things differently.

Calling on roots dating back to 1925, Cimier offers a collection of Swiss Made watches that are unique in their design and the features they offer, providing functions usually only found on much higher priced timepieces.

"I want to create special timepieces and products like the Seven Seas and the Heures Sectorielles, which no one else has," Bartsch explains. "When we first started, we only had quartz watches in our collection, but after two years we added both automatic and hand-wind watches. Now about 30 per cent of our range is mechanical, although it's still very important for us to develop interesting quartz watches, as well."


Back when Cimier was a major player in the watch industry, it specialised in making its own movements and at one point in the early part of the 20th century it was producing more than one million watches a year, with half of that production exported to the United States. The introduction of quartz movements in the 1970s led to a crisis in the mechanical watch segment, and Cimier, which closed in 1980, was one of many companies that could no longer survive.

The company lay dormant until 2003 when Bartsch and a partner purchased the brand. Today, Cimier makes a relatively small number of watches per year, about 10,000, with an eye towards special timepieces--the kind of watches that have earned the company a reputation as an up-and-comer. Rather than shoot for volume production, which is highly focused on bottom line price, Cimier has chosen a market segment that is more focused on quality, uniqueness and value for money.

The collection

Cimier's collection starts at SFr 500 and goes up to SFr 4,000, with the average price around SFr 1,000. The company doesn't intend to aim for a higher price-bracket and chooses instead to focus on providing quality at reasonable prices. Despite this, it can still offer customers really interesting timepieces with features such as retrograde chronographs, alarm chronographs, retrograde day and dates, moon-phase and power reserve displays; as well as unique time indications, such as the "Halftime" and the Heures Sectorielles.


Cimier also focuses on fine details like dial engraving (some dials require more than 100 steps during fabrication), unique straps (in materials such as sting-ray and shark leather), decorated mechanical movements and high-quality sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating to name a few.

"There are not a lot of brands that have the passion for details like we do, especially in the quartz and lower-price mechanical watch segment," Bartsch says.

"We really try to offer the customers unique models with great design, but also where they can see the value. We have to offer a little bit more in product value, as we are not established. If you buy a Cimier, you are getting an excellent product at a fair price. It represents much more value in terms of product quality and the finish of the product." Cimier also offers a three-year warranty, compared to the industry-standard two years.

Ambassadors of time

Cimier is working with some well-known Swiss athletes to help market the brand--including Olympic gold medal-winning Swiss snowboarder, Tanja Frieden. Cimier offers a 200-piece limited edition Seven Seas Arctica timepiece, designed in cooperation with Frieden, featuring a design of snowflakes and 12 black diamond-like cubic zirconium stones.

"The watch is unique. She loves it and wears it all the time, and it is truly limited," Bartsch explains. "We designed it with her; a special look with snow stars on the bracelet and a snow star on the second hand, with a mother of pearl dial. We use Tanja in the markets where she is known--in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. We advertise the ladies' collection with her, as well as her limited edition."

Other ambassadors of the Cimier brand are Jorg Stiel, the goalie for the Swiss National Football team (with his limited edition Petite Seconde Venom), former World Cup champion skier, Walter Tresch and Heini Hemmi, Olympic Giant Slalom gold medallist.

Looking ahead

The sky is the limit for Cimier, a reinvigorated brand with a

bright future. Bartsch chooses the retail outlets carefully, with timepieces distributed throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In Switzerland, the brand has a dedicated boutique in Zurich, where it can get feedback directly from end consumers, and other jewellers throughout the country.

Cimier is measured in its approach and loathe to move too fast, preferring to grow slowly and truly earn its success. So far, this approach is working, making the Montres Cimier company one to watch.

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Title Annotation:business
Author:Strandberg, Keith W.
Publication:Swiss News
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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