Direct and personal service of ochs und junior watches – that’s what these thoughts are about.
Simpler is better
Ludwig Oechslin invests a great deal of time and effort into coming up with the most elegant solutions that require the fewest mechanical parts. His functions are therefore more robust, long-living and – if need be – straightforward to repair than similar functions from other watchmakers.
We offer a lifetime guarantee on every component developed by Ludwig Oechslin.
The watch industry
In my 16 years working as a director for one of Europe’s leading watch retailers, I gained firsthand knowledge of one of the most critical challenges facing the watch industry. Servicing a luxury mechanical watch normally takes several weeks or even several months. From the client’s perspective, it feels like an extremely long time.
Why does it take so long?
The luxury watch industry is focused on building watches that are as complicated as possible. A direct result of increasing complication is that repairs and periodical service become more difficult and time-consuming.
Another reason is that one of the watch industry’s largest investments is in exclusive shopping locations, where the product reaches the client. These retail locations enable more people to come into contact with the products and the brand, but they also create a long communication chain between the customer and the producer.
If a watch from a larger brand has a defect or needs service, the client brings it to a salesperson at the retail store or mono-brand boutique which sold it to him. The watch is then forwarded to the service department of the store.
Since few retail stores can repair complex watches in-house, the watch is next sent to the manufacturer’s service department, which hands it, finally, over to a watchmaker who will be responsible for the repairs. This watchmaker analyses the watch and determines the type and extent of work that needs to be done. Via the two service administration departments and the sales personnel, the client is presented with an offer for the service from a pre-set list of options with different price points.
Being at the very end of this communication chain, the client only receives indirect information about the recommended work. His questions, too, have to travel along the whole communication chain. This draws out the process and extends the overall service time.
Finally, there is a mismatch between the number of watches being sold, and the number of watchmakers in Switzerland capable of servicing these watches. The New York Times was reporting on this gap even in 2009.
If ochs und junior was part of a large company and had to answer to a larger brand, we could not offer a better solution than this either. We believe that to be successful, a watch company must either be large enough or small enough. But being a small company, it would be foolish to copy the approach of large companies in luxury goods. And it would be ruinous, too.
We can do things differently
Since we only manufacture and sell about 150 watches per year, we can do things differently: as CEO, I am the contact person for every customer issue including service.
We always communicate directly with our clients. With a technical background and years of watch industry experience, I know what is possible and, when necessary, where to go for support. If I do need support, I find it in-house from our watchmaker Sandra Flück, from Ludwig Oechslin, or from our manufacturing partner Peter Cantieni.
Our goal is to have a watch back on the client’s wrist within 10 to 14 days – even for international clients. We usually reach that goal, and in the rare cases where we don’t, I inform the client proactively.
Since August 2014, we assemble our watches in-house. This has enabled us to considerably increase our capacity and ensures that we can meet our service goals and deadlines.
FedEx and bike messengers
Thanks to FedEx, watches can reach us in 1 to 2 work days. They need the same time for their journey from Lucerne back to their owners. In the case of service for a part covered by our guarantee, we will give out our FedEx number, so the client does not have to pay for shipping. All other cases are handled by me personally as well: I discuss the solution with the client, prepare as much as possible, and make sure that the client suffers the least possible inconvenience.
Within Switzerland, we send a bike messenger to pick up watches covered under guarantee. The watches reach our workshop at Zürichstrasse 49 in Lucerne within 1 to 4 hours. In these cases, any shipping costs are borne by us.
Growth is not a quantitative goal for us. We aim instead to grow in terms of quality. Our wish is to continue selling enough watches to be able to afford this ambitious personal commitment as a company.
We strive to:
- Manufacture the most functional and individual mechanical watches
- Be the reference watch company in terms of personal client relationships
- Provide the most efficient service
- Create a space where clients feel welcome – be that physically in Lucerne or virtually on our website
- Invite our clients to share our values – we offer a niche product, after all
What if ochs und junior did not survive as a small watch company?
ochs und junior is based on a cohesive concept that we have developed with great care. We combine innovative watches with a very conservative business plan. We have no debt and we finance all our new developments through our current sales. We do not invest in advertising or expensive retail locations. The client pays for the watch, not for its environment.
Ulysse Nardin is invested in our company as a strategic partner and holds one third of the shares. The rest is owned by the families of Ludwig Oechslin and myself. For a company of our size, we have a solid base and an excellent position.
Yet, should the highly unlikely case arise that ochs und junior no longer exists, then it should be possible for any good watchmaker to quickly understand our watches and to repair them without problem. Even if they themselves could not have come up with the original idea for that function… :-)