The Independents

Breitling has been a solid independent watch company since 1884.  Many high-end watch brands today are part of a larger group of companies.  For instance, IWC is part of the Richemont group, a Swiss luxury goods company founded in 1988, and Blancpain is part of the Swatch Group, a Swiss conglomerate that is now the biggest watch manufacturer in the world.

While Breitling is one of the independent watch companies that is still going strong and extremely popular, several other independent watch brands were unfortunately not able to survive the worst part of the recent recession.  One of those particular brands was a company called Wyler Geneve.

Wyler timepieces are extremely cool; they have a unique shape and lie incredibly well on the wrist.  The cases are flawlessly attached to the straps, and many of the watches have exhibition casebacks.  I really like some of them and just recently found myself wondering why the company did not make it.

Wyler Geneve

I decided to research some of the old Wyler retail prices and saw that their stainless steel chronograph on a rubber strap retailed for $10,800.  Doesn’t that seem a little high?  The watches do have an incaflex dial that makes them able to withstand a great deal of pressure, but it is not like they house a unique in-house movement or anything; Wyler Geneve watches use ETA base movements just like approximately 75% of the automatic Swiss watches on the market today.

I think the price point was the main reason for the company’s downfall. You are able to get a Breitling stainless steel automatic chronograph for under 5k!  That is less than half of what you would have had to pay for a Wyler stainless steel chrono…  Let’s be real; at the end of the day, price definitely matters.  There are a lot of awesome watches out there, and in order for a company’s line of watches to sell well, they must be priced appropriately and competitively.

Do you agree with where I am coming from?  Do you think Wyler Geneve watches would have sold better had they not had such a high price tag?


5 thoughts on “The Independents

  1. A study of demographics and history is imperative in any product. As I understand it, Wyler wanted to be consistently pushing the edge of watch making, in one form or another. Their “drop test”, no doubt earned great respect for durability in some circles. Some of their designs seemed to push the cosmetics… was this their downfall?

    They did make reliable pieces, however, when one has as an objective of being at the leading edge of something, one has to make a commitment to funding the research and design. The costs must be born by the sales… fewer sales would translate into higher prices and fewer customers. Research and design is expensive if it is done by a staff. Perhaps, “old money” people would be drawn to more conservative designs from companies with a long history of quality.

  2. Wyler, sounds like a fruity drink. I had never heard of them before this article. But it sounds like they were in a niche market that fell victim to the global financial crisis.

  3. The watches look great, but for that price point, I can think of quite a few watches I’d buy before them. Maybe if the economy was better, more people might be willing to spend that kind of money on a brand like Wyler.

  4. Pingback: Zenith is Back. « The Breitling Report

  5. The Wylers were unique in design and durability. I would not pay 10k for an ETA 7750 movement, but then there are IWCs using the same movement that are highly priced. The price depends on the finish of the movement and some other factors. The design of the Wyler case merits a higher price. That much higher? Who knows.

    For ten grand I’d prefer a manufacture movement like GP’s WWtc.

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