Swiss watchmaker Nivada Grenchen is strengthening its distribution strategy by joining forces with Analog:Shift, the vintage division of the Watches of Switzerland Group. To mark the beginning of a long-term alliance, the two partners launched a limited edition of 100 pieces, the Chronomaster ‘Big Eye’ Yachting, on June 1st, 2023.
Online/Offline: the perfect 1-2 combination
E-commerce is by far the most important sales channel for Nivada Grenchen, ahead of its physical distribution network. Until recently, the watch industry saw online sales as a way to supplement store turnover. Nowadays, points of sale and showrooms are being opened as a complement to online sales. The challenge of the hour is to make the best of both worlds. Case in point: Nivada Grenchen.
Guillaume Laidet, CEO of Nivada Grenchen since 2019, has a natural knack for digital sales. “Our online strategy allows us to better connect with our end customers and cut out middlemen,” he explains. Internet watch sales have taken off, and the pandemic has only accelerated the phenomenon. But confronted with the very legitimate observation that “at the same time, many people want to see our watches in the flesh,” Guillaume Laidet advocates a sensible multi-channel approach. “Digital distribution is attractive in terms of margins, but we lose out in terms of customer experience.” The first digital contact with the watch brand has to lead potential customers to the other touchpoints where they can get more information, examine and handle the product, and get advice before deciding to buy it online or in a physical store.
The partnership with Analog:Shift naturally follows from this logic. Nivada Grenchen was built on a 100% online sales model, but the next step is to strengthen its foundations and make the brand available in brick-and-mortar stores – in partnership with big international players in distribution, as is the case today with the announcement of the opening of Watches of Switzerland. A strong signal of the brand’s strength, the strategy to broaden and buttress distribution in concert with Analog:Shift heralds a new stage for Nivada Grenchen: “We’re on track to grow by more than 50%, with some 6,000 watches to be produced by year-end 2023,” says CEO Guillaume Laidet.
Without haste, intent on ensuring healthy and incremental growth, Guillaume began partnering in 2019 with about twenty independent retailers in traditional distribution. “These are mainly family-run jewellery stores,” mostly in France and Switzerland and further afield (let’s mention Horel in Bordeaux, Ocarat in Paris, XX in ‘Zug’) but also further afield, as in the US (Chatel n California), Thailand (Pendulum Central World in Bangkok), Mexico (XX) and Japan (Beyondcool in Tokyo). In these stores, the sell-out is steady, and the brand is performing well. Guillaume Laidet has also noticed another phenomenon: storefront windows and stockrooms are no longer filled with the products of historical brands, which are gradually leaving retailers in favor of developing their own stores. It just means more room for Nivada Grenchen!
“To get the brand upon to cruising speed and altitude, it’s time to go offline with a selection of strategic retail outlets. Alliances such as with Analog:Shift, a heavyweight in the business, are key in enabling us to scale up.”
ANALOG:SHIFT / Watches of Switzerland group
Born out of a passion for history and great design, Analog:Shift was founded in 2012 to bring authenticity and trust to the experience of seeking and purchasing a vintage watch. In 2020, Watches of Switzerland Group acquired Analog:Shift, which had already been its pre-owned and vintage watch business partner since 2018. This made James Lamdin, founder of Analog:Shift, the director of vintage and pre-owned watches for Watches of Switzerland Group.
“With the pre-owned and vintage markets often seeming uncertain and daunting to consumers, Analog:Shift’s expertise and authenticity, now firmly established within the Watches of Switzerland group, will allow enthusiasts to purchase pre-owned pieces in full confidence and with the service and assurance of quality they have come to expect from Watches of Switzerland.” James Lamdin
The New Chronomaster ‘Big Eye’ Yachting
Nivada Grenchen watches have been part of the Swiss watchmaking landscape since 1926. The first Chronomaster, a chronograph water-resistant to 200 meters, was launched in 1963 and remained one of Nivada Grenchen’s biggest successes until the late 1970s. In 2018, after years of dormancy, the brand was reborn under the impetus of Guillaume Laidet with a reissue of the famous Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver.
As with all Nivada Grenchen watches, this Chronomaster boasts an exceptional level of quality and precision. Its proportions and design, with its broad arrow-style hands, giving off both a sporty and casual chic vibe, take us back to the 70s, when the tool watch became the elegant addition to every wrist. Inside the 38mm case with polished and satin-brushed finishes beats a manually wound Sellita SW510 BH B movement with a 63-hour power reserve.
The white/grey dial is set under a domed sapphire crystal that echoes the aesthetic of the acrylic used on the original, while offering much-improved scratch resistance. The dial itself is clean and uncluttered, making it both a statement and very easy to read.
In fact, its sober design almost seems at odds with the multitude of functions integrated in the watch:
- First, there is the chronograph, which can track up to thirty minutes with the bright orange central seconds hand. The small counter at three o’clock counts the minutes, while the small black counter at nine o’clock counts the seconds.
- Then comes the tachymeter, which uses the scale on the outside of the dial and by-the-minute track; it includes markers for fifths of a second.
- The small counter at three o’clock also features an eye-catching two-tone blue and orange segment for counting down the first ten minutes. This is a feature originally designed for yachting (Yachting Timer), a nod to the piece’s nautical DNA and its name, Chronomaster ‘Big Eye’ Yachting.
Analog:Shift proposes the Chronomaster ‘Big Eye’ Yachting on an ergonomic and elegant ‘beads of rice’ steel bracelet, which only reinforces the genuine vintage look of the piece. The watch will be available at a price of 1,995 USD / 1,830 EUR / 1,800 CHF, on sale exclusively in partnership with ANALOG:SHIFT
Nivada Grenchen X Analog:Shift Chronomaster ‘Big Eye’ Yachting Technical Specifications
- Sellita SW510 M BH B
- Manual winding chronograph
- Additional functions: Tachymeter, Yachting Timer at 3 o’clock
- Power reserve: 63 hours
- 316L stainless steel
- Finishes: Polished and brushed
- Diameter: 38 mm
- Thickness: 13.75 mm
- Crystal: Sapphire, double domed
- Bezel: Unidirectional rotating aluminium
- Caseback: Solid, screwed-in
- Water resistance: 10ATM (approx. 100 meters)
On sale exclusively in partnership with ANALOG:SHIFT
About Nivada Grenchen
Nivada Grenchen timepieces have been part of the Swiss watchmaking landscape since 1926, when Jacob Schneider founded the brand in Grenchen. His son Max took over the company in 1976. The brand’s official distributor in the US was the Croton Company, which explains why some timepieces bear the Croton signature or both the Croton and Nivada Grenchen logos. In 1930, Nivada Grenchen was one of the first companies to manufacture automatic watches. This led in 1950 to the creation of Nivada Grenchen’s first water-resistant automatic watch: the Antarctic.