Mondaine, though not a maker of luxury timepieces, is still a part of the Swiss horological industry. Based in Biberist, Switzerland, it’s not particularly old either. But it has had to contend with the economic problems of the last couple of years. Clearly, demand fell off a cliff for expensive watches during the height of the recession. But Mondaine caters to a different clientele, and has a degree of manufacturing flexibility which few other Swiss watchmakers do.
You see, most of Mondaine’s pieces are relatively inexpensive, and since Far East manufacturing is more than capable of producing these pieces at a similar level of quality for a lower cost, production was shipped out there. Yet the Swiss company didn’t abandon debt-ridden, stagnant Europe for Asia–quite the contrary, actually.
While everyone else was weathering the storm, Mondaine stepped up and built up its European facilities. The Bernheim brothers sunk millions of francs into building a new production and distribution facility, with four times the area of the old one. This represented a considerable fixed cost, but expanding their foothold in Switzerland was probably key to the brand’s image. After all, if you’re looking for a cheap watch from Asia, there are plenty of other companies who offer that–probably for less, even.
There’s a tremendous amount of prestige that comes with being a Swiss watchmaker. That’s a selling point for every watch that Mondaine markets. For those that can’t afford a more expensive brand, Mondaine watches offers those individuals the bragging rights of a Swiss watch without the price tag.
Finally, the company added jobs to the local economy. Not only did it manage to preserve the 110 jobs or so that already existed, but they added sixty more. With Europe in crisis, Mondaine strengthened its existing ties and established new ones. Expect the company to continue to thrive in the near term.