Zeitwinkel Saint-Imier, Switzerland


The Zeitwinkel philosophy

Our brand philosophy manifests itself in each of our watches. Below we list some aspects in random order - by nature rather text-heavy:

We consider watchmaking to be a craft worth preserving.

Do you know the chocolate commercials where a confectioner is lovingly filling some chocolates or carefully stirring a bowl of chocolate? In reality, both the chocolates and the vast majority of watches are made as automatically and as efficiently as possible. So the watchmaker who assembles a watch from scratch usually only appears in the visitor center or in advertisements.

At Zeitwinkel and at a few independent manufactories, however, the craft is actually still practiced traditionally. Of course, we also manufacture precision parts on machines that can do this more accurately than any human. However, the assembly of all movements and all watches is done exclusively by hand. This is necessary if only because our movements cannot be made by robots due to the German silver plates.

Manual work is not a matter of dogma for our watchmakers. But if something is more precise, better or simply more beautiful to make by hand, then we will make it by hand.

We believe in “Swiss Made”!

For any watch to be labeled "Swiss Made", in simplified terms, at least 60% of the manufacturing costs of the watch as well as the movement must have been incurred in Switzerland. This rule, however, refers to the costs, not the work involved. So the cheaper it is to buy components and prefabricated assemblies in Asia, the easier it is to meet this requirement in view of the high Swiss wage level.

At the same time, neither components manufactured in Asia nor the watches made from them are automatically inferior; after all, this approach can be found with some of the best-known brands. It may be that as a corporate brand in a competitive market segment, it is not possible to meet the targets set by headquarters in any other way.

From our point of view, a customer who spends a considerable amount of money on a "Swiss Made" watch would indeed expect a product manufactured in Switzerland. At Zeitwinkel, we are therefore very transparent and, whenever possible, have our components that we don’t make ourselves manufactured by partners directly in our region.

It is neither particularly difficult nor unusual in watchmaking to save considerable amounts of money in manufacturing by using shortcuts and simplifications. Once a brand and a perceived quality standard are established, you are ready to go.

The decoration of movements offers a lot of potential for savings. Which customer ever checks whether a component that is not visible is really decorated in such an elaborate way? And can't a perlage be made a bit larger? And what about that method that looks like manual labor?

It is now possible to manufacture components fully automated in such a way that a solid component looks as if it were traditionally assembled from several subcomponents.

At Zeitwinkel, we also don't do everything that would be possible in watchmaking. After all, we don't want to charge a mid-five-figure sum for our most affordable watch.

Our decorations, the quality of our components, and the attention to detail in our watches, are clearly above what is common in our price range. And when we tell you that hidden movement parts are decorated by hand, they actually are.

We have nothing against complications, as long as they don't make life unnecessarily complicated. In other words, if a complication makes sense, we may someday build it into our watches. This could be a second time zone, a moon phase, a date complication or maybe a chronograph.

However, we would rather not add a complication just to show that we can build it. A tourbillon, for example, would be interesting to look at, but would not have a significant impact on the accuracy of the watch. Such a complication would, however, increase maintenance costs noticeably. Like a four-wheel drive that you never use.

We see no reason to change our watch models on a regular basis.

It is nowadays common practice for watch brands to conduct model changes or "facelifts" at least once a year. This optimizes manufacturers' sales, as retailers always have to keep the latest collection in stock. At the same time, however, it forces retailers to quickly turn over their inventory.

Not every facelift results in a more convincing product. And watch lovers often find their recently purchased watch with significant discounts on the respective platforms. After all, the old stock has to go out as quickly as possible.

At Zeitwinkel, we introduce new models when we think they make sense. And we sometimes remove a model from our portfolio if it is not in great demand. Apart from minor optimizations, we do not otherwise change our watches over extended periods of time.

We do not grant discounts - period.

With a little skill, you can easily negotiate a discount at most jewelry stores, even for watches of well-known brands. This is often less due to the negotiating skills of the customer than to the inventory pressure of the jeweler.

After all, the manufacturer's new collection will arrive soon, and if the watches of the rather unpopular group brand are not sold, the attractive models will also no longer be supplied.

This cycle of model changes, bundling of corporate brands, inventory pressure and cash flow concerns of the jeweler on the one hand, and quarterly financial statements of the luxury groups on the other hand, creates the need to sell ever more watches. This is often only achieved through discounts, especially since many watches have an expiration date thanks to the frequent model changes.

Gray market dealers and specialized internet platforms regularly act as saviors of hard-pressed jewelers, but do not tend to contribute to the retention of value of the watches traded.

We do not condemn any retailers who optimizes their sales figures under such pressure. However, it does not reflect our philosophy and we would not be able to increase our production volume sufficiently so the remaining margins would still be enough to pay our expenses.

In other words, our watches offer excellent value for their price. We would have to raise our prices significantly in order to participate in that game of frequent discounts and still be able to afford our level of quality.

If you are planning to purchase a high quality watch from us that will hold its value over the long term, you will be pleased to hear that discounts are not part of our calculation.

Since we founded Zeitwinkel, our admiration for watchmakers and their craft has grown even more.

In general, respect seems to be a good basis for a successful company. Respect for our customers requires respect for the watches we make for them. And respect for our watches in turn demands respect for our watchmakers and their craft.

So it is quite fitting that we as founders do not take ourselves unnecessarily seriously...

All of our timepieces are assembled by hand, usually only after the customer has placed an order. In addition, we have both the expertise and the necessary machines to manufacture most of the components ourselves.

This also allows us to accommodate special customer requests where individual components, such as dials, are specially made to customer specifications.

If you are interested in acquiring an absolutely unique watch made by hand, please contact us.

Even after many years, we still don't have celebrity "brand ambassadors" or a circle of well-known "friends of the brand."

Perhaps it's because we don't understand why we should pay anyone to like us. More correctly, that she or he pretends to like our watches.

We don't have the marketing budget for the really big names anyway. And what if our famous ambassador steps into an all-too-human faux pas? Or if he or she is not really credible in terms of their newly acquired watch expertise?

So we continue to rely on satisfied owners of a Zeitwinkel watch to tell their friends about us. And that our customers require neither an actress nor an athlete to find our watches interesting.

Zeitwinkel does not produce "limited" edition models. Due to our very limited production capacities, each Zeitwinkel model simply exists only in small numbers.

The phenomenon of limited special models in the watch industry is one that we, as manufacturers, observe with increasing fascination and head-shaking. Of course, we understand the desire to be one of the few people in the world to own a special watch from a well-known brand.

But when such special models are launched at short intervals, in clearly three- or even four-digit quantities, it is more likely to be just another form of marketing.

We do not believe that a watch should be "exclusive" in the literal sense of excluding anybody.

It is obvious that not everyone can afford or even wants to afford a handmade watch, if only because of the considerable price. Beyond that, however, "exclusive" should not be a selling point unless the term is understood to mean "special" or "outstanding."

Therefore, we at Zeitwinkel do not work with artificial shortages or waiting lists for specific models, where you can get a spot on the list by buying other models. If we temporarily have a slightly longer delivery time for watches, this is only due to our limited production capacity and our quality standards.

Our founders were always fascinated by the sustainability of a mechanical watch. It is one of very few mechanisms that, with a little maintenance, can continue to function reliably for centuries.

At the same time, they also see this sustainable mechanism as a commitment to conserving resources and being responsible with the environment they live in.

For example, we decided early on not to offer alligator bracelets for animal welfare reasons. Due to the environmental damage and social consequences of gold mining, we do not offer housings made of precious metals, even though we have experimented with fairmined gold for a while.

For us, sustainability also includes refraining from short product cycles and offering catalogs or product information digitally as much as possible.

Sometimes we are asked what Zeitwinkel stands for. In the ensuing dialog, it becomes clear that the question is about which sport or exciting activity the brand should be associated with. The answer is as simple as can be: nothing or whatever you want!

In the search for structure or the fulfillment of fantasies, even intelligent people sometimes get themselves involved in strange pursuits. How else could the anti-aging industry achieve such sales? And does anyone really believe that that top athlete wears the sponsored watch even in training when no one is watching?

Quite a few of the common PR stories about watches refer to long-gone fame, are arbitrarily chosen or completely pulled out of thin air. Of course, that actor looks impressive in front of a fighter jet. But if you want to feel like the agent with the exciting life and the gun, the way is probably not through purchasing a watch, but through acting school.

Zeitwinkel simply stands for excellent watches at the highest level of craftsmanship. We decided not to buy an old brand name and therefore do not refer to an alleged tradition. Our watches will not turn you into a better tennis player, an astronaut or a helicopter pilot. In any case, we don't think you would believe any of that anyways.

P.S.: Better take off your mechanical watch when playing tennis or golf or when doing loops in a fighter jet. The mechanical movement will thank you!

Does a watch really need a proprietary manufacture movement?

Definitely no. There are great, high quality watches that work wonderfully with often only minimally modified standard movements.

When we started Zeitwinkel, we really wanted to build honest watches. At that time, there were quite a few products on the market for which inexpensive standard movements were packed into imported cases and which fetched high prices based on their brand name alone.

We wanted to clearly set ourselves apart from such products and, as a new brand, the best way to do this seemed to be to completely develop our own movements from scratch. This was very unusual at the time and we encountered a corresponding amount of disbelief, resistance and doubt.

In the end, we not only managed to have every Zeitwinkel watch powered by an absolutely unique manufacture movement. We also decided to manufacture the bridges and plates from uncoated German silver. While such movements are not suitable for industrial assembly, they are very robust. The warm color of that special alloy and elaborate decoration reflect their value.

Manufacture watches are an expression of watchmaking passion, a result of design, engineering knowledge and craftsmanship. Their advantages and special features therefore often require more detailed explanation than would be necessary for watches from big brands.

And who could possibly do this better than the people who conceived these watches? At Zeitwinkel, direct communication with watch enthusiasts, collectors, customers and journalists is therefore not a chore, but a welcome opportunity for interaction.

When you contact us, you will not be answered by a marketing department that puts together pleasant text modules. Usually, one of our founders will answer you and will be delighted about your interest in Zeitwinkel.

Zeitwinkel watch manufacture in Saint-Imier, Switzerland