Quantcast
Latest Stories

Why a Malaysian bought a Swiss watch brand and kept it Swiss

By

REF. 227 from the No. 2 Collection

WHEN IT comes to ladies’ watches, the Philippines is considered by leading watchmakers as a mature and sophisticated market compared to the rest of Asia, excluding Japan. Heavily influenced by Europe and the US, Filipino women are more into streamlined watches with rectangular cases.

In contrast, more women in Singapore, Hong Kong and China prefer watches with round cases, as the Chinese consider the shape lucky. In Japan, more women prefer smaller watches, while their Middle Eastern counterparts are more drawn to bigger ones.

First Manila boutique

Frank Low, president of Bedat & Co. and CEO of Kuala Lumpur-based Luxury Concepts, should know. Low and his wife Charmaine, marketing director and general manager of Bedat & Co., have just visited Manila to open Bedat’s first watch boutique at Resorts World’s Newport Mall in Pasay City.

With David Keel, Bedat & Co.’s head of business development, the couple met with lifestyle journalists over lunch to talk about latest developments concerning the brand.

REF. 727 from the No. 7 Collection

“Based on our experience, Filipino women are more into rectangular watches,” said Low. “It’s probably because the market is influenced by Europe, particularly Spain, and America. Since Singapore and HK are influenced by China, women there are more into round styles.”

Rustan’s exclusively distributes Bedat, a Swiss watch brand established in 1996 by the late Swiss watchmaker Simone Bedat, in the Philippines. Except for two styles, the rest of Bedat’s numbered collection are all geared to women.

“In lieu of words, Bedat uses numbers to distinguish each item in its collection,” said Low. “The universal language is not French, English or Chinese, but numbers.”

Numbers 3 and 8, both round watches, are popular in Asia, except the Philippines, while numbers 7 and 1, because of their rectangular shape, sell well in Europe. Most Japanese women go for number 3, while Middle Eastern women prefer a bigger version of the same number.

Brand owners

Low introduced Bedat in the Philippines, sold with other watch brands at Rustan’s.

This time, he and his wife are opening Bedat’s first store in Manila. Low declined to reveal how much money his company, Luxury Concepts, invested to acquire the brand.

REF. 118 from the No. 1 Collection

When PPR Gucci Group, the company behind Bedat, finally decided to sell the brand, including its operations in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the first people they asked was Low.

Before that, Low was content selling watches for them. But after investing so much in Bedat, including opening a huge flagship store in Kuala Lumpur, he couldn’t bear to see the brand go through an uncertain future.

“In 2008, we opened a big Bedat boutique in KL with the king and queen of Malaysia cutting the ribbon,” he said. “In less than a year, board members of PPR Gucci had a meeting in Europe and came to the agreement that the watch business was too small and too insignificant for them.”

Heritage and artistry

Apart from not wanting to lose face in Malaysia, Low and his team at Luxury Concepts really believed in the brand. It has pedigree, heritage and artistry, three elements in Low’s book that set Bedat apart from most watch brands.

“At the end of our discussion, the guy at PPR Gucci noticed how convinced we were with the brand,” said Low. “He came up with the idea of selling the brand to us, including its operations. That was how we ended up with the brand.”

Ref. 228 from the No. 2 Collection

But Low knew the importance of maintaining the brand’s pedigree by keeping production in Switzerland. He likened Bedat’s unique position to a number of global luxury brands, which originated in Europe, but are now owned by companies based mostly in Asia.

“Bedat may be Malaysian-owned, but it remains very much a European brand,” he said. “Actually, it’s not an issue to us. I just want to clarify and share the information with the public.”

His company also ended up hiring the brand’s experienced designers and craftsmen, many of whom are sons, grandsons and even great grandsons of experienced Swiss watchmakers, to ensure that they stay true to the brand’s DNA.

Pure and honest

When friends first heard of Low’s decision to acquire the brand, they thought he was crazy, because making watches in Switzerland can be very expensive.
“They suggested that we just make them in China where it’s cheaper and better. I told them that it’s not about being cheaper and better. It’s about remaining pure and honest. We’re just custodians of a fine Swiss-made watch brand, and we intend to keep it that way,” he said.

Both the watch’s cases and movements aren’t mass-produced goods. Instead, they are made in Switzerland based on skills and knowledge passed on from one generation to the next.

REF. 881 from the
Extravaganza Collection

“It was a promise we made to Madame Bedat, and we intend to honor our promise,” he said. “The Swiss have turned watchmaking into an art form. There’s no room for compromises by having parts made and assembled elsewhere. The process can be done only in Switzerland.”

For one, he said, a good number of Bedat’s cases have plenty of curves that can be done only by hand. Not even the most sophisticated machines can reach rounded corners that need polishing.

Even from an engineer’s point of view, it’s quite hard to piece together a Bedat watch by machine. Almost everything needs to be done by hand. Such a process requires time, dedication and experience.

“If you want a watch that doubles as heirloom piece you could pass on to the next generation, you go for a Swiss-made watch with a reputation for quality,” said Low. “Our watches may look attractive and stylish, but they’re more than just fashion items. They’re for keeps.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bedat & Co. , Lifetsyle , Luxury Concepts , Rustan’s , watches

  • Bring back Phils Glory. Unite.

    convincing



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
    Marketplace