Making up for lost time
Interview with Judith Borowski, Chief Branding Officer (CBO) at Nomos Glashütte
European Business: As the brand name suggests, Nomos Glashütte is based in Glashütte, a small rural town. But there’s more to the story – this particular location has a long history of watchmaking that predates your company, correct?
Judith Borowski: Absolutely. Glashütte has quite the history of designing and producing fine timepieces – 180 years actually! The tradition dates back to 1845, when Saxon King Friedrich August II sent a master watchmaker to the town to stimulate the local economy. The king wanted the quality of Glashütte’s watches to rival that of the Swiss – and he succeeded. Unfortunately, the two subsequent World Wars and the rise of the GDR overshadowed our town’s rich watchmaking tradition. We are proud to say that through the hardships, the town’s core knowledge and passion for watchmaking has remained steadfast until today.
European Business: Glashütte is now synonymous with hand-crafted watches. Who was behind the revamp of the town’s position as a center for luxury watchmaking?
Judith Borowski: Well, Roland Schwertner founded Nomos Glashütte back in 1990, with the determination to elevate Glashütte’s status as the epicentre of fine German watchmaking. He embraced the time-honored craftsmanship, and applied this expertise to create watches that can be passed down from generation to generation. Oftentimes we see other leading brands chasing trends, and they end up producing collection after collection of gimmicky watches. Mr. Schwertner wanted to make sure that Nomos Glashütte never lost sight of the fact that watches are not a fashion accessory – they should be beautiful, yes, but most importantly, watches should be made to last – measuring time with pinpoint precision for a lifetime.
European Business: Nomos Glashütte now produces some of the bestselling timepieces of all time. To what do you attribute this success?
Judith Borowski: Glashütte can be compared to Champagne in this regard – officially, you are only allowed to designate a watch a “Glashütte watch” if more than 50% of a caliber’s value is created there. In our case, 95% of the production process is completed locally, meaning that we are able to keep a close eye on every step. This keen level of oversight enables us to guarantee the superior quality of craftsmanship of every single Nomos timepiece produced – no short cuts. Our company does everything from A to Z under one roof, which instills a high level of confidence in our customers.
European Business: Do you primarily cater to the German market, or is there also interest in your products abroad?
Judith Borowski: Certainly, we see a special interest in our watches from German-speaking countries, but an appreciation for superior craftsmanship can’t be contained by borders. We export globally to markets throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
European Business: You joined Nomos Glashütte back in 2001 as its CBO – what have you hoped to accomplish through your position there?
Judith Borowski: For me, the storytelling aspect has always been at the forefront of my work here – to bring customers closer to understanding what Nomos stands for, and the rich history behind our watches. It’s motivating to me to be able to carry on this tradition. There are some here in Glashütte who are fifth or sixth generation watchmakers, which gives them an immense sense of pride in their work. Today, nobody actually needs mechanical watches anymore, and yet they continue to be in demand. People appreciate the intricacies of a well-made watch – and it’s rewarding for me to play an active role in the mechanism that produces them.