Swiss-Australian watch brand Bausele lauched just two years ago, but now plans to enter the UK market. Its founder Christophe Hoppé tells WatchPro about his watchmaking background, how the company strives to make timeless watches and its USP of featuring little elements of its Southern Hemisphere homeland, with earth, sand and coal from Australia embedded into each timepiece.
WatchPro: How and when was the brand founded?
Christophe Hoppé: The idea of Bausele (which stands for Beyond AUStralian ELEments) came to me at the start of 2010 when I moved to Australia from Switzerland, where I spent the last 10 years working in the watch industry (The Swatch Group in La Chaux-de-Fonds and TechnoMarine in Geneva). I was looking for an interesting and different concept/DNA for a watch brand for some time and Australia gave me that inspiration. We launched the company with my business partner here in Sydney in 2011 and received the first watches at the end of 2011. Bausele is proudly the first Australian watch brand to have the esteemed Swiss Made seal of approval.
WP: How would you describe Bausele watches?
CH: The design idea behind the range was to create timeless timepieces that were stylish, but not overtly fashionable with black watch cases that you see everywhere. Bausele watches come with an extra band that are easily interchangeable thanks to a simple but efficient system between all [of Bausele’s] watches. All watches are 200m waterproof which is a necessity when you are surrounded by such amazing beaches and access to the ocean in Australia. What makes Bausele watches different is that each watch holds a piece of Australia in the crown. Each of our watches comes in three colours: Beige dial which holds sand from a famous Australian beach, red dial with red earth and black dial with coal in the crown.
Bausele has three ranges; The Vintage, a 36mm classical looking watch with a modern twist on the dial and superluminova hands. All the movements used for the collection are from Isa Swiss in Les Brenets. This range in particular is three hands, date and day displayed in full letters which gives it a retro look. It is typically suited for women and retails for AU$248 (£270).
The OceanMoon is a 40mm that displays the tide movement as well as the moon phase. It is the perfect range for people who like a robust, but not oversized, looking watch. It is really is two different watches in. The connoisseur will appreciate the small clou de Paris detail on the moon phase counter at 10 o’clock. I tried to bring a few details of what I like in horlogerie to give the watch high design quality, whilst giving it an accessible price point of AUS$388 (£268).
The Yachting has the larger watch case with 43mm. The movement is a yacht racer with chronograph and alarm. The watch case has beautiful curves, if you look from the side, similar to boats. I often find that yacht racer watches have over crowded dials because of all the information on display. I went for a large inner ring that opens up the dial and give more space to display all the features. The yachting model is the most expensive in the collection and retails for AU$588 (£405) – which still stays very reasonable compared to other brands selling the same movement for AU$1,000 (£688).
WP: Who is Bausele’s target consumer?
CH: We are selling the watches mainly online through our own website and through our online business partners. Our customers are usually between 30 and 60 years old, mainly Australian, living in Australia and abroad, but also people that are attracted or want to aspire to the Australian way of living and all what it represents. The high design elements tend to appeal to AB demographics that are looking for Swiss quality with a unique story.
WP: Is Australia your main market, or are there others?
CH: The main markets are Australia, followed by the US – they love Australia in the US. We have a distributor in Russia and are exploring the market in France. The aim is to be strong in Australia and to also to start exporting the first Australian watch brand – Swiss Made to the world. The road is long and we are only at the beginning of the journey for Bausele.
WP: The watches are described as Swiss Australian – how do you portray this notion through the watches, branding and marketing?
CH: Bausele – Australian Soul, Swiss Made is our line under the logo. The concept of Bausele is Australia and all what it represents. Australians like a unique value for money ratio in any product they purchase. The 200m waterproof and the easy interchangeable straps and put the silicon strap for a quite dip in the ocean goes well with the active life in Australia. And of course the fact that you actually carry a piece of Australia with you in each Bausele watch makes it uniquely Australian.
The branding we went for is sort of laid back but still premium minimalistic and simple. The product is the star. Our marketing efforts reflect the essence of the watches as we have partnered with international and Australian stars and athletes who exemplify our unique elements. Our ambassadors include Ace Buchan, a top Australian professional surfer on the WTC pro tour, Rachel Neylan is the Australian 2012 silver medallist at the UCI worlds championship and Nicolas Lunven is a famous French sailor that won the solitaire du Figaro race in 2009. They are all proudly wearing and testing Bausele to its limit.
WP: You’re now set to enter the UK market; what are your plans in terms of number of doors you want to reach, and what kind of retailers are you reaching out to?
CH: The UK market seems like a natural next step due to the history between both countries. We won’t be able to enter the UK market without a strong partner like the Zeon group for example. I read recently on WatchPro that they were still looking into distributing new concept of watches that bring something to the market. We are very open to discuss with them if they are interested.
WP: Will Bausele be appearing at any European or international trade shows and if so which, and why those shows?
CH: We would love to come to international shows such as Basel and present Bausele. I would personally love to do so as I was born on the French side of the border of Basel in the Alsace region. However, we are a young brand and need to build our brand (and revenues) more before we can do so.
WP: Tell us a little about the brand in its homeland – how has Bausele made a name for itself in the Australian market?
CH: Bausele won an award end of 2012 for best small company of the French Australian Chamber of Commerce which is a well respected Chamber of Commerce in Australia. A turning point was beginning of February 2013 when one of the leading papers wrote an article about our watches, highlighting their uniqueness and brought the brand to the attention of wider audiences. We are doing great considering we have been around for less than a year and a half and that we are developing the brand with minimal investment.
WP: Which is the bestselling timepiece among Bausele’s collections?
CH: The OceanMoon is the bestselling timepiece in the collection. It is a very versatile watch that is appreciated by men and women, people who are active and those that aren’t. You could wear the silicon band while exercising and quickly change it to the leather band to look smarter to go to work or go out for dinner.