Celebrating its 150th anniversary, Bernhard H. Mayer is an original brand in many respects. With numismatic roots in Germany, Bernhard H. Mayer is now headquartered in Biel Switzerland. The company also stands out within the industry for its original direct selling distribution model. We took the opportunity of a visit to Biel to sit down with Bernhard H. Mayer to learn more about the brand and take a look at their 150th anniversary limited edition watches.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – You are the fourth generation of the Mayer family at the head of the Brand. How did Bernhard H. Mayer begin its venture into horology and watchmaking?
Bernhard H. Mayer – In 1871, my great grandfather Bernhard H. Mayer, a talented metal engraver, founded the family enterprise by setting up his workshop in Pforzheim, a small town in Germany known for its jewellery and watchmaking industry. He found a perfect environment for growth and development due to the availability of many skilled craftsmen and artisans of precious metals. Thanks to his unique business acumen, he seized the opportunity to evolve his business into minting coins and medals, which later evolved into producing parts for the watch industry. His reputation in expert craftsmanship grew very quickly that he was awarded contracts to mint official coins and medals by European Royals and several European governments.
My great grandfather Mayer was also a pocket watch collector and loved engraving and personalizing his watches. This passion laid the foundation for the House of Mayer to later expand into watches and fine jewellery, which eventually became the core Mayer business. In 2000, the Mayer family formed a strategic partnership with QI Group and moved all watch manufacturing to Switzerland at its facility in Biel, the heart of watchmaking.
What is your first horological memory?
I don’t think I can recall a previous memory that does not involve watches in some form or other. From my father’s arm to the times when he brought me along to the factory… he was always surrounded by samples of coins, jewellery, precious metals, and watches. It was a special experience to be surrounded by those items as I took it as a massive playground when I was young – it enabled me to explore and see with my own eyes how my father meticulously worked with all these complicated components and parts. I remember walking through all the offices and labs, seeing ideas and art come to life as my father held a fully assembled timepiece in his hands.
What makes Bernhard H. Mayer watches stand apart?
Our watches represent excellence in design, craftsmanship, precision and lasting value. From precision engraving to transforming a passion into a talent, our 150–year history says it all about the past and the future. All Bernhard H. Mayer watches are hand-assembled by master craftsmen in Switzerland. Our brand is unique in that we have developed our family spirit of expert craftsmanship and tradition through our numismatic roots, and we have successfully transferred our skills and expertise in that area to complement Swiss watchmaking standards. We’re committed to crafting timepieces that combine the tradition of watchmaking with the latest in horological advancements.
Can you tell us about your distribution model?
In 2000, the Mayer family formed a strategic partnership with a young and dynamic conglomerate, QI Group, who positions and distributes our watches through a direct selling model. A watch is a piece of art that oftentimes requires direct interaction for customers to truly experience the beauty of a timepiece and direct selling is the perfect distribution channel for Bernhard H. Mayer as our customers can communicate and learn about the watches directly through this distribution model. We want to reach customers all over the world in an accessible and reliable manner.
How did the Brand navigate through the pandemic?
The demand for traditional and Swiss-Made luxury watches continues to be strong, even amidst a pandemic. This is especially so as people are looking for items with real concrete values to invest in and pass onto the next generation. As the world slowly recovers from the aftereffects of a global pandemic, we have noticed a renewed interest in people worldwide treasuring and enjoying their lifestyle experiences more than ever before. Swiss-made luxury watches are part of this desire. They are looking for something that is high-quality and built to last.
You are releasing limited edition timepieces to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Brand. Can you tell us about these watches?
This year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of our Brand. It is a celebration of 150 years of tradition of excellence. It’s a limited edition collection that expresses our spirit, style, and uniqueness in craftsmanship. We have produced only 150 pieces in the rose gold plated variant to symbolise this meaningful anniversary, and 1871 pieces in stainless steel to honour the year of our founding. These watches represent excellence in design, craftsmanship, precision and lasting value that old generations, as well as Millenials, will appreciate highly.
What are the next challenges for Bernhard H. Mayer?
We create watches that are a work of art, and today we want to create “Swiss-Made” luxury watches that anyone in the world can wear proudly every day.
Sustainability is the other horizon we are exploring. We have a great opportunity to draw a new path between sustainability and luxury, experimenting with new ways to create innovative watch packaging through the use of cutting-edge and renewable materials.
There is an increasing need to be more conscious of the decisions we make when it comes to product development. Significant changes in packaging practices will need to gravitate to a comfortable in-between, balancing sustainable practices and a luxe image, and this is a journey that the collective Swiss Watch industry will eventually need to make.
For more information, please visit www.bernhardhmayer.com.
Photo by Jimmy Perez/Pepito Production and MONOCHROME.