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Time to stand out

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While the art of fine watchmaking has almost died out elsewhere, it still thrives in Switzerland. Few people buy a Swiss watch to find out what time it is; a Swiss watch simply brings a sense of elegance and class to the clock on our wrists. However, even Swiss watchmakers are struggling with the strong Swiss franc, weaker Asian demand and political instability in Russia and the Ukraine.

Against this backdrop, the ATLANTIC brand relies on a business concept with a strong focus placed on Eastern Europe. “Over the last years, international market conditions have become more difficult,” says Managing Director Fredi Bickel. “We are a small, independent company and not linked to any big group. For this reason, it was crucial to find our own niche. At a very early stage, we concentrated on Eastern Europe which proved to be a future-oriented decision. In 1950, we opened our first shop in Poland and this is still one of our core markets today.”

It was Eduard Kummer, horologist par excellence, who founded the company in 1888 under the name of EKB. He produced parts for pocket watches and wristwatches and launched the world’s first waterproof watch in 1930 – a milestone in the company’s history.

In the 1950s, the company started entering markets in South America and the Middle East. Product novelties such as speed watches and the Worldmaster series caught the attention of watch lovers all around the globe.

The company has 13 employees and offers a range of 1,000 different watch models sold in 35 countries through selected distributors. “Today, we focus on timeless, medium-priced watches,” stresses Mr. Bickel. “It is not easy to launch new and innovative products all the time. Our watches are characterized by a specific style, a classic case shape and a very attractive price-performance ratio. Working with ETA Valjoux movements is an important trademark. Models such as ‘Worldmaster’ and ‘Open Heart’ are highly popular. Every two years, we produce limited editions of 1,888 or 888 pieces. These models perfectly represent the ATLANTIC brand.”

Eastern Europe and Russia have long been ATLANTIC’s main growth drivers making up 70% of turnover. Now, Asia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and the United States of America open up new opportunities. “Over the last years, we achieved a very good and stable operating income,” points out Mr. Bickel. “Now, that customer tastes in Eastern and Western Europe are almost identical, we are optimistic that we can further strengthen our position in Western Europe and other regions.”

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