Urban Jürgensen CEO lashes out at industrialised Swiss watchmaking

Søren Jenry Petersen.

Urban Jürgensen will celebrate its 245th anniversary at Baselworld this year, and the watchmaker’s president and CEO Søren Jenry Petersen is looking to connect with retailers that share the company’s vision for art, craftsmanship and innovation.

“We are here to provide world-class timepieces to our clients through unparalleled service together with our retail partners,” Mr Petersen says. “We still believe in the relevance and integrity of providing handcrafted artistically created timepieces to discerning clients,” he adds.

Mr Petersen believes that, as a handful of Swiss watchmakers increasingly dominate the global retail landscape, there is an opportunity opening up for retailers with the vision to work with more exclusive brands.

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“We continue to look for the few select retailers who understand the fine art of selling these types of timepieces, and who are increasingly wary of simply trying to compete with a price on a website from a grey marketeer. I´d like to help, and I believe there is an excellent value to be created. “We see a clear business growth opportunity in the top of the market, where authenticity, integrity and true partnering skills can build a business serving the customers who will continue to aspire for handcrafted timepieces,” he states.

Mr Petersen thinks that the largest brands are stuck in a model of mass production and distribution. “All the large high-end brands are today industrial. They have very little choice but to build on their scale, and that is their primary concern. Their volume levels mean they get further away from unique handcraft. This is visible in their products that leave the factories as clones. Hence the differentiation is lost, and marketing and event-making are needed to compensate. The product loses its ability to stand on its own. Decisions to push for volume has resulted in this, and the channels are suffering,” he suggests.

Apple is perhaps the ultimate industrial watchmaker, and it is showing Swiss watchmakers a vision of what a commoditised market might look like without constant re-invention. “Combined with the paradigm shift into smartwatches, where Apple in Q4 of 2017 sold more smartwatches than the entire Swiss watchmaking industry, it is time to look at what in the future will constitute a differentiated and lasting offer for discerning high-end clients,” he concludes.

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