Interview Questions for Matthias Breschan
Dear Mr. Breschan,
Thank you for your willingness to participate in this first-ever interview with the members of the Hamilton Watch Forum, a forum of WTF (www.watchtalkforums.com).
We look forward to your comments about the company and wish you and the company continued success.
Rusty and foghorn
Hamilton Watch Forum moderators
And now the questions from our members:
From ulackfocus in Philadelphia:
Now that Hamilton is a member of the Swatch group, what do you see in the immediate future for the brand?
Will watch production ever be resumed in the US?
Hamilton is in the Swatch Group since 1974. In 2002 the production has been transferred in Switzerland for two reasons:
- repositioning of the brand. Two product lines have been defined. On one hand the American Classic which expresses the true American Spirit of Hamilton and on the other hand the Khaki watches which are inspired by the long and strong military tradition of Hamilton with the US army.
-international expansion: The majority of the Hamilton watches are automatic. The branch standard for automatic movement is the Swiss made. But Hamilton will always stay The American brand but with Swiss technology inside.
Now Hamilton is the worldwide market leader for automatic watches in the price segment of 500 - 1500$. In the Swatch Group Hamilton is in the middle range, between Tissot and Longines. That is a big advantage to be in the Swatch Group because of the total vertical integration of the watchmaking know-how in the group.
Hamilton was once known as the American Rolex. Does Hamilton intend on making itself once again a household name in America?
(Case in point my Father-in-law has his father's Hamilton from the 40's. He was a rancher in NE Utah near Wyoming and the only luxury he allowed himself was a Hamilton watch. To him in his Sunday go-to-meeting suit that Hamilton showed even though he was a rancher he knew the quality and prestige of Hamilton.)
US market is our first priority. Before the repositioning of the brand, Hamilton produced watches for companies' anniversaries and incentives. This has led to a lost of image in the past 20 years in the United States. But thanks to the new positioning of the brand and a high qualitative distribution network, Hamilton is today among the fastest growing watch brands in the US.
Will Hamilton make a Khaki Chronograph with the addition of the GMT or 24hr function similar to Sinn?
Yes, we are studying this project. But we can't reveal any information at the moment.
We have seen a couple of brands starting to move to in house manufacturing of movements (i.e.: Omega) in order to elevate their brand status. What is Hamilton's plan for movements in the future?
As Hamilton is a part of the Swatch Group, all the movements are produced in the 160 sites of production of the group in Switzerland.
With the definition of "Swiss Made" becoming more stringent, prices for Swiss made watches will inevitably go up. How will Hamilton, being perceived as a brand that offers incredible value for money, compete with the higher end brands in order to maintain its competitiveness?
Our objective is to keep our prices at a “democratic” level. We are and always will be known to offer exceptional value for money versus our competitors
From muttley in New Zealand:
"WHY CAN'T I BUY THESE GREAT WATCHES IN NEW ZEALAND????"
Hamilton is the worldwide market leader in the price segment 500 - 1500 $ and is one of the worldwide fastest growing watch brand. Currently the capacity is insufficient to cover the demands. We hope that the situation will be soon better and to come to New Zealand
From Beastmaster in the UK:
Does Hamilton hope to increase brand awareness in the UK and if so what, if any, steps are being taken to increase sales in the UK?
Also, is the brand going to stay at its current place in the market place, or do they plan to go up or down market with the brand?
Hamilton watches have been launched on the English market only one year ago.
Our priority is not to expend fast but to grow in a controlled and steady way. We have shorted to build a high quality distribution network. Currently the sales have slowed down because of the capacity. That is a bit frustrating to not be able to satisfy the demand. We hope that it will be soon ok.
From MacDaddy in Florida:
Why doesn't Hamilton make mechanical versions of the Boulton and the other vintage models?
When the production has been transferred in Switzerland more than the 90% of the collection has been changed. But the past has not been forgotten. Some vintage models are regularly relooked and adapted to the actual consumers, with the Swiss technology. That is the case for example with the US 66. The watch was created in the 1960's under the name "Fontainebleau" and has been redesigned in 2008 for the 70th anniversary of the famous Road 66. That is a very original model thanks to the particular shape of the case. The movement is automatic.
Why not make a 44mm modern version of the Ventura on a SS bracelet? It would sell like “hotcakes” in the U.S.
We are studying the possibility to make a new version of the Boulton but we already do not have sufficient movements for current demand.
We are already studying this project. Thank you for your input. FYI, a new model of the Ventura with, for the first time, an automatic movement has been launched this year.
Why doesn't the U.S. get the nice, limited edition models that other markets such as Japan and Canada sell?
The limited editions are sold in USA too. As the limited models are available in other countries, they are very fast sold-out.
Can Hamilton start making or supplying straps that fit larger and taller consumers?
Hamilton already provides straps in different sizes. The leather straps and the leather/cotton straps are available in the size XL, in different colours.
From ribrd 7282:
How is the decision made regarding availability of particular models? Some models are only available overseas but not in the United States.
All the models are not available in every market. The models are selected according to the characteristics of each market and the preferences of the consumers.
From foghorn in Massachusetts:
Does Hamilton intend on keeping American traditional designs found in the American Classic and Khaki series as a regular part of their catalog, or will larger, less "traditional" designs slowly replace them?
Hamilton intends on keeping the two lines of watches: Khaki and American Classic.
The American Classics collection reflects perfectly the roots of Hamilton and gives an image to our heritage. It shows how innovative Hamilton has always been. We are launching nowadays products in the American Classics line that are inspired from our past and modernized in order to fit the actual consumer. An example is the US 66 which divulges originality thanks to the unique shape of the case. This is a typical feature of Hamilton and we'll continue to develop it.
The current Khaki watches in the Hamilton collection are direct descendents of their heroic forerunners that served the forces in both world wars. They are innovative in terms of functions and design. Within the Hamilton Khaki line there are four families: Aviation, Action, Field and Navy, all with individual identities. Have a look on the Code Breaker for example. There isn't nothing close to this exceptional watch.
Hamilton watches are very strong character watches for strong character persons.
Why is the current Piping Rock (a true American Classic) reissue not available in the US? Are there plans for a US release? (Also asked by tbarry in Texas)
The Piping Rock was a limited edition and has been 100% sold in Japan. According to the big success of the watch, we study the possibility to develop a new project.
From Rusty in New York:
What are the challenges in expanding Hamilton to new markets, such as India and China? Is Hamilton going to be marketed as a historic American brand there or as a Swiss brand?
The big challenge is to build a high quality distribution network. Our priority is not to expend fast but to grow in a controlled and steady way. It's myopic to sell products in many points of sales just in order to make the fast buck. It isn't a good strategy in the long term. We need to consider the brand image, perception and brand positioning. If you don't do it right in the beginning then it becomes difficult to correct it.
Hamilton claims his American origins. The watches combine a strong American spirit with the unrivalled precision of the latest Swiss movements and technology.
Up until the Basel 2008 new model introductions, Hamilton has seemed resistant to market large size watches. What do you believe is the future of these gigantic watches that other watch companies now currently offer?
The large size watches are a trend for several years. For Hamilton, it's an advantage because we make mostly large watches and even women like big watches with character. I personally feel that this trend will continue at least for several years. Our largest watch has a diameter of 48 mm and even in diving watches such as BeLOWZERO, the size available is around 46 mm. We are very happy to see the trends for bigger watches.
From tbarry in Texas:
Are there any plans to re-issue solid-gold classics, like the old Masterpieces? Or solid-gold modernized versions?
Yes, we plan to develop solid-gold watches. But only if the gold's price becomes more reasonable.
From two 21b in New Jersey:
Are any classic Hamilton designs currently in development for inclusion in the American Classics line?
We are launching products in the American Classics line that are inspired from our past and modernized in order to fit the actual consumer. An example is the US 66 which divulges originality thanks to the unique shape of the case. This is a typical feature of Hamilton and we'll continue to develop it.
Will any current Khaki Collection watches be discontinued to focus on new designs?
Every year we discontinue the equal number of references according to the novelties, in order to keep the stock management under control.