Party of 300 opens 3000 m²

Yesterday, we celebrated the opening of extended facilities of the Frederique Constant Manufacture in Geneva. feca29ef-e0a0-44ea-9a31-5329f7ef07a2

We needed two years to finish the construction of an additional 3000 m² space, bringing the Frederique Constant Group’s headquarters up to 6200 m², enabling to completely re-organise the different working spaces.

On the ground floor, the visitors will find an exclusive dedicated space where guests will have the chance to go through a Manufacture Experience and discover each brand’s universe and history. Amongst many displays and settings, the visitors will be able to discover heritage timepieces, the manufacturing process of the brands’ in-house calibres, details of some of the most iconic watches, innovative savoir-faire, specific watchmaking functions, connected watches and more.

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We are optimistic and continue to implement our sales-focused strategy by defining strong guidelines for the two flagship brands: extending accessible luxury for Frederique Constant, developing key markets and distribution channels while developing growth for Alpina (especially after the huge success of the AlpinerX outdoors smartwatch launched in 2018).


Frederique Constant has been producing watches in the heart of Plan-les-Ouates since 2006. We continue to innovate in the Swiss watch industry and worldwide thanks to the first Swiss Made Horological Smartwatch and Hybrid Collection. The strong tradition of investing in new technologies, new in-house mechanical movement at an affordable price tag reflects our commitment to Let more people enjoy luxury.

The overall goal is to increase the production capacity from 160,000 to 250,000 watches per year within the next 5 years.

MMT’s Health Focus

We’re going now into more health-related [apps]. It will become very interesting and very dangerous. You’re going to get a watch that is indispensable.

Biomedical functions in a watch. First, detection of cardiac arrhythmia (AFib). People who have it, and perhaps don’t realise, have an 18% chance of suffering an attack in the next four years. Over four million people in Europe are affected without knowing it. Then there’s blood glucose. Hypodermis tests are proper medical procedures, and we still need more years of development, patents and certifications, but we’ve already come quite a long way. We have patents, and we’ve formed partnerships with universities. Finally, geriatric care: fall detection, emergency calls, location tracking, etc., all contained in a simple watch that doesn’t need a mobile phone connection, because we know that not all older people have them. We therefore need to create Narrowband-IoT and LTE-type communication protocols that have a greater range than Bluetooth, while remaining independent of a mobile phone. We hope to be able to unveil this in the second half of 2020.

Royal Huisman Expands

Sailing, my other passion. Still involved as advisor for Royal Huisman, the shipyard that makes these beautiful sailing yachts:


On 14th May 2019, the Port of Amsterdam finalised the acquisition of the former Holland Jachtbouw shipyard in Zaandam. Subsequently, Dutch builder Royal Huisman has moved into the facilities on a long-term agreement, strengthening its business position in Amsterdam.

Jan Timmerman, CEO of Royal Huisman: Extending our facilities in the Amsterdam region, we will be able to properly meet the growing demand among current and new customers. This second shipyard will, over a longer period of time, serve as an excellent addition to our existing site in Vollenhove, both for new builds and for refits.


Founded in 1884 Royal Huisman has evolved from modest builder of wooden workboats to multiple award-winning creator of some of the finest superyachts in the world. Read more at Royal Huisman.


Recently, I have become a Board member and Entrepreneur in Residence of Yes!Delft, the leading European Hardware Incubator.

As Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) I help startups with their challenges by sharing experiences and best practices in different areas. hereby, I can rely on my own experiences in order to provide the entrepreneur with solutions. I aim to create a comfortable and confident setting for the startups in which the startups can openly talk about their company.

Yes!Delft is one of the most active accelerators and incubator in the Netherlands right now.


Based out of Delft, YES! Delft is a tech incubator that helps entrepreneurs to build leading technology companies. They help in turning promising technology ideas and teams into solid startups and grow them to successful companies.Moreover, YES! Delft offers access to mentors, experts, investors and partners who share their know-how and experience with entrepreneurs.

The Apple Watch Threat

From Hodinkee

Apple is the big threat. It sold just under 18 million Apple Watches in 2017, according to industry estimates. (Market data companies International Data Corp. and Asymco put the figure at 17.7 million; Creative Strategies estimates 17.4 million. Apple itself does not disclose watch sales data.)


But it’s not only Apple, IDC estimates that all other producers sold 15.6 million. “The IDC data means there is 47% that is not Apple.”

Indeed, last year’s total sales of 33.3 million smartwatches far exceeded the entire Swiss watch industry’s output of around 25.5 million units. (Switzerland exported 24.3 million watches in 2018, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry; another 5% were sold in the country itself.)

Concern about the impact of smartwatches on the Swiss quartz-watch market was a factor in our decision to compete in the smartwatch category. Frederique Constant is a leader in Switzerland’s “accessible luxury” category of watches (priced roughly from $1,000 to $4,000). It produces quartz men’s and ladies’ watches for the lower end of the product line.

But that wasn’t the main reason. First of all, we started this in 2015 because I like it. I like the product. I like the innovation part. That’s the driver. I like it because you are adding features to a fine quartz watch, which is inherently a little bit boring, a little bit standing still for at least 25 years already. So now we can add really meaningful features, things we can experiment with, things we can use. I like the apps. And I am increasingly intrigued by what kind of insights we can give to people.

But at the same time, it is a defensive move. I also see clearly that the smart category is going to eat into the quartz category. So, it’s also partly a defensive move. I am very open about that.


We see the real value of the Horological Smartwatch being its ability to breathe new life into the quartz watch category.

We are very glad we took the leap into smartwatch technology. Smartwatches have become an important niche for the group. In less than four years, they account for 15% of Frederique Constant’s and over 30% of Alpina’s annual revenue.

Hybrid watch market to grow more than three times faster than for touchscreen models

A study by Juniper Research has estimated that sales of hybrid connected watches will soar to 80 million units in 2022 from 14 million in 2017.

The report also suggests that there will be a 50/50 split in the connected watches market, with analogue hybrids and touchscreen models like Apple Watch each accounting for 50% of the market.

Touch screen models are currently ahead in unit shipments, but while that market is expected to grow by 160% by 2022, the hybrid market will expand by 460%.

“We started in 2015 with Horological Smartwatches. Both Frederique Constant and Alpina smartwatch collections have been growing in past years. The horological smart watches now account for around 12% of our sales, so it has developed into an important category.”

“I feel that the Swiss watch industry still doesn’t understand how much the Apple watch and other smart watches have eaten into the figures, particularly the figures for quartz movements. The Apple Watch Series 3 is the next level, which moves from notifications and fitness tracking to health orientation. I think this is where we will start to see the true benefits of the smart watch and once again Apple is in the lead. They are starting to inform people if their resting heart rate is too high and are even branching out into medical information. Apple has sold 18 million watches and when I go to the US I see more and more people wearing Apple Watches. The Apple Watch is now in its third generation and who knows what they will bring with the fourth generation. If they start to adapt the case and have something other than just a black screen then the Swiss watch industry could be heading for trouble. I still say quite frankly that many of my colleagues in the industry don’t know what is happening.”

Hybrid Manufacture Smartwatch

We are proud to introduce a new World’s First: The hybrid smartwatch collection, the Hybrid Manufacture, the first to fuse tech with a mechanical manufacture-made movement.


Hybrid Manufacture Movement



Image courtesy of Blogtowatch

Back in 2015, we introduced the Horological Smartwatch, but these have quartz movements. A lot of people have since been asking for a smartwatch with a mechanical movement, and the Hybrid Manufacture is the first to accomplish just that, arriving on the scene in four 42mm styles.

We did some complex trickery to cancel out the negative magnetic effects between the mechanical and electronic modules, and the watch completely hides the technology within.


Smart features include step tracking, sleep tracking and a second time zone. So pretty par for the course for a modern hybrid, but the Hybrid Manufacture goes with its coaching. In the app you’ll see health tips based on your stats, advising you, for example that too much activity in the evening is having a negative impact on your sleep. We plan to keep expanding on giving meaningful health information. That’s where we see the true value a smartwatch, measuring health indications on the body.

Another interesting part of the Hybrid Manufacture is for the real watch enthusiasts, as in the app  you’ll be able to see the health of the caliber itself. You’ll see a measurement of the amplitude (the rotation of the balance wheel), the rate of seconds per day it’s off, and the beat error.


Collaboration with Citizen

In the summer of 2015, we were approached by two strategic watch groups to be acquired. Eventually, a third group joined the party. After careful consideration, for a long time, evaluating many aspects, we chose Citizen to be our parent. Below answers from a recent Q&A.

How did the acquisition play out?

The Citizen group lets myself and the management team carry out our initial plans for five years. Of course, the obvious change is that every month we, the Frederique Constant group, have to report to Citizen. In addition to that, we started working with Citizen North America on the distribution of Frederique Constant watches in the U.S. We used to have a subsidiary with 17 people in the U.S., but they have a distribution and organization infrastructure of more than 500 people. So, you can imagine the power that the two of us have, and that’s the reason why we’re together.

What’s the biggest lesson to learn from the Citizen Group?

For sure, the distribution. For example, we [Frederique Constant] switched to the Citizen group’s organization for Japan and the U.S. starting last summer. Also, in certain technologies like solar energy, especially for the connected watches. Citizen is really good at very thin movements. What they produced last year is quite incredible. Their quartz technology is fantastic. But, on the other hand, we brought to the table a lot of Swiss mechanical know-how. Yes, Citizen already has La Joux- Perret for Swiss movements, including for Arnold & Son, and we have already collaborated with them. The important point of this acquisition, however, is that the group has a multi-brand strategy, so every brand has a different price segment.

How’s the market’s response toward all of these changes?

We were quite concerned to see how the market would react. We have, from the beginning, clearly explained why we did it: Our two children, one is in Standford [University] in the U.S. and the other one who wants to go into the medical field, clearly told us they don’t want to go into the watch business. Then, when you’re approached to be acquired—we’re approached by two groups, later even another group also came along— if we say we want to keep it in the family, what’ll happen with the company?
Also, the company has already gone big with Hong Kong, German, Dutch, French subsidiaries and a Swiss company. You can’t simply hand over this company to someone who’s new anymore. It’s too dangerous. So, Citizen came, and they said that we want to have you do what you have done for five years. Other groups wanted to be hands-on from the start. We felt very comfortable, and then we decided to go with them. Frankly speaking, I’m still very happy with the acquisition.

What about your market shares in Japan? How does Japan respond to mechanical watches considering Citizen is big on quartz timepieces?

No change. Now, we have the flyback chronograph. We’re working on a new caliber for next year, and we’ll continue, if possible, to come up with a new mechanical innovation every year or two—if it’s not too complicated.

How do you balance the creations of the traditional and the connected timepieces?

Yes. It already represents 10 percent of the business turnover after only two years’ time. We used to have 30 percent in quartz, but now it’s only 25 percent in quartz and 10 percent in connected watches. So, it has really eaten up some part of the quartz segment.

How is Ateliers deMonaco doing now?

It’s still very small. They work with very few retailers. In Singapore, there’s one point of sales. It’s a watch for someone who wants what nobody else has. So, it uses a one-on-one sales strategy for very expensive pieces, up to €200,000. And the brand is growing gradually. We work with a few retailers, but then it’s typically with these retailers that organize private dinners. It’s more personal. It’s also bespoke, as well. Like very special dials, combination of materials, special diamond colors and so on.

These days, there are more and more brands offering entry-level prices. How does this impact Frederique Constant’s bottom line?

We have seen all these changes from others, with so many adjustments. We have had the strategyof accessible luxury for over 20 years. All that time, we slowly grew. Last year, the growth halted a little, now we’re back on course again. I don’t see that such change affects us; we just continue what we do best. Everybody knows Frederique Constant is value for money. All the retailers know, and even the clients know about it. Meanwhile, other brands need to explain why last year they’re too expensive.

What is Frederique Constant doing to reach potential buyers from the younger generations? The millennials, if you will?

In the digital space, we do more and more to reach the younger people. We’ve had one million fans on Facebook and we clearly see that we reach mostly 20-somethings versus the older market. Product-wise, we have the entry-level watches and, of course, the connected watches. So, we definitely have products for younger customers. I’m not really so sure that we really have a lot of young customers, though. It’s something we should investigate. But typically, our customers are around 30 years old.
So, we’re not changing our DNA, to be “younger,” so to speak. We’re first and foremost a Swiss watchmaker for businessmen and businesswomen. That’s typically our first market. As a matter of fact, our strongest market shares are in Europe at 38 percent. Asia is about 26 percent. Everybody wants to go to China, but the market changes quite rapidly.