Alpina Watches increased sales by 35% in 2018, according to the company’s international brand director Oliver van Lanschot Hubrecht.
The brand, which specialises in timekeepers for active outdoors enthusiasts, was bought by Frederique Constant in 2003 and then became part of Citizen Watch Company in 2017 when both Swiss watchmakers were acquired.
Mr van Lanschot Hubrecht claims that the business dramatically outperformed similar watchmakers in a space that is facing increasing competition from smartwatches from tech giants including Apple and Samsung as well as sports activity watch specialists like Garmin.
“Overall, Alpina Watches sales grew by 35% in 2018 which contrasts with the published FHS figures within its price category. This confirms the success of the strategy presented in 2016 to offer more entry level priced products, with quartz watches starting at €495 and automatic watches at €895. This was accompanied by over 300 POS openings throughout the year in key markets — mainly in the US and Western Europe, but also in Asia. The key to the success has been the ability to find the right balance between pricing, product innovation and marketing activities, Mr van Lanschot Hubrecht describes.
Alpina has also adopted some innovative business models, including using crowdfunding platforms to reach new customers.
“Remaining true to its history of innovation and collaboration, Alpina Watches launched the AlpinerX on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform and sold over 3000 watches to backers from 72 countries around the globe in less than 30 days,” Mr van Lanschot Hubrecht reveals.
The exercise also sparked conversations directly with consumers, which has led to innovation in product design.
“Alpina Watches was able to learn from the feedback of the backers in terms of design and requested functionalities. This helped us to launch a perfected product, by adding new functionalities such as heart rate monitoring amongst others, and also influenced new designs for future collections,” explains Mr van Lanschot Hubrecht, who claims that this had a halo effect with traditional retail partners, which also saw increased sales.
With the additional financial backing of Citizen Watch Company, Alpina and Frederique Constant will be doubling their production capacity with the extension of their Plan-les-Ouates Manufacture in Geneva, due to be completed in June 2019.