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German tradition in watch making

Interview with Mathias Stotz, Managing Director of Uhrenfabrik Junghans GmbH & Co. KG

European Business: Mr. Stotz, what is so special about the Junghans brand?

Matthias Stotz: Junghans is a brand with a long history, which is characterized by a passion for watches and an innovative spirit that sometimes was ahead of its time. The company was founded in 1861 by Erhard Junghans and his brother-in-law in Schramberg in the Black Forest as a clock component factory. The first clock was produced in 1866 and at the beginning of the 20th century Junghans was the largest clock factory worldwide, producing more than three million timepieces per year with a staff of around 3,000 people. Between 1955 and the 1960s we distributed our products in 100 countries worldwide and Max Bill designed the legendary collection of watches, which have become an internationally renowned and timeless design classic. In 1990, we launched our “Mega 1”, the world’s first radio-controlled wristwatch, which we developed in collaboration with Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger, who also designed the Macintosh for Apple.

European Business: In 2009, the company was taken over by Dr. Hans-Jochem Steim and his son Hannes Steim. What has changed since the acquisition?

Matthias Stotz: The Steim family has brought Junghans back to its successful roots as a traditional German watch manufacturer. The development of the region around our production site Schramberg was influenced by Junghans, and with Dr. Steim as an honorary citizen of the city, the company is once more owned by local shareholders, who are supporting Junghans to make it an international brand again. Our focus in the last years has been on implementing the new strategic approach, concentrating on the tradition and values of our brand with the eight-pointed star.

European Business: Can you tell us something about your latest products?

Matthias Stotz: We offer a broad portfolio of watches for men and women with different technologies such as mechanical and quartz movements, radio or solar technology. Our four main collections are Erhard Junghans, Junghans Meister, max bill by junghans and Junghans Performance. This autumn, we launched a traditional mechanical pilot watch and a new automatic series. In addition, we will focus on a new ladies series of watches with radio-controlled solar technology. There are only a few companies that offer such a wide range of technologies.

European Business: Is there a typical customer who buys Junghans watches?

Matthias Stotz: Our watches are for people with competence, style and integrity who set a high value on quality, functionality and aesthetics. Especially for business people, a Junghans timepiece is a good choice as it represents professionalism and a down-to-earth attitude. Younger people like our classic designs from the 1950s and 60s like our Meister line or the max bill by junghans watches. Due to the high “made in Germany” quality of our products, our watches are extremely durable and hold their value well.

European Business: What is the strategy for the future?

Matthias Stotz: Our strongest focus is the internationalization of the Junghans brand. We are very successful in Germany, Japan and Austria, however France, Belgium, and the Netherlands are important markets as well. We have a real passion for watches and I am optimistic that we will be able to conquer the markets worldwide again.

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