Carl F. Bucherer 1969

History: Carl F. Bucherer, visionary watchmaking – part 1

In the course of more than 127 years of existence, Carl F. Bucherer has become a brand endowed with its own manufacture and a reputation for a formidable distribution network. What follows is a closer look.

By Vincent Daveau

Carl Friedrich Bucherer was undoubtedly one of the visionaries. Very early on already, in 1888, he figured out that to get ahead in the world of business, one had to seize the opportunity offered by the budding tourism industry in Lucerne, his town.  He was well aware of the potential provided by the presence of well-healed watchmaking fans who came to central Switzerland from the four corners of Europe to take advantage of the mountain air, of the beautiful vistas over the lake, and of local spas.  To meet the requirements of this particular clientele, he opened a boutique in Lucerne that specialized in the distribution of watches and jewelry. It was the founding action of an extraordinary entrepreneurial trajectory. 

Carl Friedrich Bucherer Carl Friedrich Bucherer

In fact, in 1919 – a world premiere in his business – Carl Friedrich Bucherer started manufacturing watches under his own name, with a first collection called  Art Deco ladies line, timepieces that expressed his vision of the market. The man was not only ambitious, but also a very well-honed understanding of his job. At the time, his name was already synonymous with quality and originality. He was a genuine winner, and by the time the 1920s rolled around he was a genuine pioneer. He made some radical choices without ever compromising on quality, getting enthusiastic about wristwatches, an item few people in his industry believed in at the time, even though they had become quite popular during the Great War.

Carl F. Bucherer ladies’ watch from 1920 with an enamel finish Carl F. Bucherer ladies’ watch from 1920 with an enamel finish

Faith in the product

Following his death, his two sons, Carl Eduard and Ernst Bucherer, kept up the vision of quality watchmaking while widening its presence in the world of high-end distribution. Growing vigorously in the 1930s, the company spread out from its base in Lucerne by opening other points of sale in Swiss towns and tourist sites.  The goal, as always, was to seek out the discerning clients, international and local, by offering a selection of the finest models available on the market, including in-house pieces.   

Carl F. Bucherer from 1925 adorned with enamel roses Carl F. Bucherer from 1925 adorned with enamel roses

The 1950s and 1960s were an era of resolutely stylish men's watches.  Elegance and functionality combined to produce timekeepers with very sophisticated designs. Bucherer made chronographs with neatly symmetrical subdials, which really drew the eye. The dials often featured some practical indications, like a tachymetric scale. The watches not only gave time, they also became the reflection of the personality of their owners. For women, the industry created jewelry watches with dials concealed under covers shaped like flowers about to bloom. The era also generated some splendid watches manufactured of precious materials and decorated with encrusted enamel. 

A square watch from 1934 built into a leather case A square watch from 1934 built into a leather case

C.F. Bucherer Chonograph from 1965 C.F. Bucherer Chonograph from 1965

Among the great technological wonders of the 1970s, it is worth mentioning the "Archimedes" model. This diver's watch equipped with a universal time mechanism was avant-garde for its time. The brand also put lots of energy and know-how into the development of the legendary quartz Beta 21 movement.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, this service requirement was extended to the German-speaking countries after watchmaking activites were regrouped under the manufacture brand Carl F. Bucherer. their precision and their feeling for innovation.  Three generations have passed since the opening of the first boutique in Lucerne. Carl F. Bucherer is still in the same family's hands. Jörg G. Bucherer - third generation - is the current owner and president of the executive board.

The Archimedes Supercompressor a diving watch with an internal rotating ring The Archimedes Supercompressor a diving watch with an internal rotating ring (1971)

Carl F. Bucherer's legendary quartz Beta 21 movement

Family enterprise with international impact

The company is rooted in a history that is more than 127 years old as a guardian of seminal values and still maintains the same values, i.e. devotion to innovation, and attention to independence. Carl F. Bucherer is the only independent brand from central Switzerland to manufacture men's and women's watches under its own name, while at the same time relying on a international distribution network.

Front picture: C.F. Bucherer Chronograph from 1969

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