Interview with Sascha Moeri, CEO of Carl F. Bucherer
Writing about an iconic brand is always challenging and overwhelming. You want to bring forward something original, that has never been said about that brand; you want to unveil the mystique that has brought the huge success to its doorstep; you want to reveal the secrets that allowed it to stand the test of time…
At every step of the way, you are confronted with the fear that so much of what you feel and think will remain unsaid because it is so difficult to stick only to the major accomplishments when there are so many little building blocks worth mentioning. These stepping stones might be small but they are never insignificant.
CARL F. BUCHERER is a luxury watch brand founded in one of the most fashionable cities in Switzerland – Lucerne – in 1888. Carl Friedrich Bucherer was a visionary who set in motion the hands of time in a way that would transcend . . . time. His two sons followed him: one learned to become a watchmaker while the other trained as a goldsmith. These two specific skills are evident even in the brand’s current creations.
The trajectory of this brand was always onward and upward. The Bucherer stores became well-known in other locations in Switzerland, and in 1915, the brand opened its first boutique in Berlin. Soon enough, one of the brothers, Ernst Bucherer, proved his outstanding skills and became the watchmaker to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Today the company is owned by Jörg G. Bucherer, the grandson of the founder. In 2001, the company repositioned itself in the premium, high-end segment of the watch market and in 2003, Jörg G. Bucherer registered a watch brand, which he named after his grandfather, the founder, Carl F. Bucherer. Under the leadership of the third generation of the Bucherer family, a factory was built in Switzerland, where the brand’s watchmakers develop own manufacture calibers and intricate parts. At the same time, it also established itself as the market leader in peripheral technology, for which the brand is admired by watch enthusiasts around the world. They draw sketches in the company’s own design studio, and this is the exact place where the unique style of the Carl F. Bucherer high-end watches was born.
The Bucherer family has been associated with watch manufacturing and retailing for many years. The company’s expertise in both spheres of commerce is very impressive. The elegance and sophistication of its wristwatches established it as a symbol of status and style. While many watch brands belong to large luxury groups, Carl F. Bucherer remains a family business. Its membership in the Bucherer Group, a family-owned firm, gives it the resources it needs to continue its expansion.
I had the opportunity to interview Carl F. Bucherer’s charismatic CEO, Sascha Moeri. Since 2010 he has worked tirelessly to promote and lead this company to unprecedented success and he has contributed significantly to the brand’s global renown. He contributed to the establishment of Carl F. Bucherer’s long-term vision, with a brilliant strategy for expansion. The company has enjoyed significant growth since his arrival. Although the company hopes to grow in the future, it does not envisage growing so large that it loses the exclusivity its clients have come to enjoy.
Q: Sascha Moeri, you are an emblematic figure in the evolution of modern Carl F. Bucherer. How did you come to be the CEO of this incredible brand, what is your background?
After I completed my MBA at the State University of New York, I realized that I wanted to work in an international environment. This led to positions at companies like the Swatch Group. Prior to coming to Carl F. Bucherer I worked for Chow Tai Fook Group (Hong Kong) in Biel (Switzerland) and was CEO of Milus Europe and Vice President of Milus International. Since 2010, I have been in my current position as CEO of Carl F. Bucherer. When I was appointed by Jörg G. Bucherer, I committed myself fully to applying my experience to making Carl F. Bucherer a truly global brand and I am proud of the progress CFB made working with an incredibly strong and passionate team and a supportive Chairman and Group CEO
Q: Which of the brand’s long-standing principles feel closest to your heart? And I’d also like to ask how you have managed to take a brand with such a long tradition and heritage and make it not only contemporary but future-focused?
I’ll start with your first question. Carl F. Bucherer is the only Swiss luxury brand that remains 100% in the hands of the founding family after a history of well over a hundred years. That already makes it very special. With every important decision we make, we are aware of the unique heritage of the brand but it’s important to remember that each generation of the Bucherer family was focused on the future. That vision is very much a part of our DNA. The history of our brand is the foundation upon which our storytelling is built but the narrative – at every stage of our evolution – has always been about creating fresh new projects and challenging ourselves to remain innovative, passionate, and curious. Blending our rich background with a commitment to redefining contemporary watchmaking comes quite naturally and I always feel privileged to be able to make sure that Carl F. Bucherer, with its distinctive heritage, remains true to the vision of our founding family.
Q: Carl F. Bucherer is known for its incredible technological innovation in the field of watchmaking. What can you tell us about the patented peripheral technology, a field in which the brand is the industry’s undisputed leader?
I will try to keep the answer short but all of us at Carl F. Bucherer get very excited when we talk about peripheral technology. It’s hard to imagine how important those two words are to our brand.
In short, peripheral technology refers to parts that are not mounted centrally on their axes but rotate around their own peripheries on ceramic ball bearings. This allows for thinner watches and an unobstructed view of the corresponding elements. Watch enthusiasts love it. And we love it.
Three of our patented peripheral technology innovations have attracted enormous attention.
The first is the patented peripheral winding system which we introduced in our CFB A1000 automatic movement in 2008. Guided by three ball bearings between the main plate and the bridges, a thin oscillating weight is positioned on the periphery of the caliber, making the watch flatter and providing an unobstructed view of the movement.
The second is the “floating tourbillon”, launched in 2018, whose cage is supported peripherally – and invisibly – by three frictionless ball bearings that ensure stability and precise guidance.
The third patented innovation, a minute repeater regulator mounted peripherally via three low-friction ceramic ball bearings, took Carl F. Bucherer’s peripheral technology to an unprecedented level. It was introduced in 2021 in the Manero Minute Repeater Symphony, a game-changing timepiece that also features the other two peripheral complications. With a system of gongs, this brilliant expression of the highest art of watchmaking even adds sound to timekeeping. And you will be pleased to know that there’s more to come – we are working hard to continue to surprise admirers of watches “Made of Lucerne”!
Q: I know that Carl F. Bucherer has created a collection that is a tribute to women shaping time since 1888. The brand has always held women in very high regard so can you please elaborate on this project?
Yes, women have always played an important role in our brand, going all the way back to 1888 when Carl Friedrich Bucherer opened the first store with his wife Luise, who was very much a part of the business. Carl Eduard Bucherer, the son of our founders, married Wilhelmina Heeb, who was a fascinating woman in her own right. She was an inspirational spirit and a loving wife but also an innovative businesswoman who, back in the 1920s, was instrumental in making our brand international. She remains an important part of our history and set the stage for our partnerships with other women over the years.
One of these is with Women in Business. We work with them on joint projects, interesting talks and new media formats – paying tribute to inspiring women, who shape time daily. As I mentioned, for the past 134 years, brilliant women have inspired us in all aspects of business, and remain an integral part of the brand’s rich heritage and lively traditions. The partnership with Women in Business celebrates and honors their contributions.
We also have a podcast called She Is Speaking, a platform that features interviews with contemporary women who talk about, among other things, their internal and external motivation, the sources of their energy and the people who inspire them. Each episode is moderated by Sophie Furley, who is a renowned journalist and editor and I can highly recommend the series.
Q: One can say that every watch created by this brand is also a piece of jewelry and Carl F. Bucherer also has a jewellery line. Can you tell us about the concept of those collections?
A note: We have to draw a distinction here. Carl F. Bucherer is an independent watch brand. The Bucherer Group also includes Bucherer Fine Jewellery but that is a different company. We and Bucherer Fine Jewellery could be described as cousins – we have the same roots and strong family ties but Carl F. Bucherer doesn’t have a jewellery line. Our focus is entirely on our great timepieces. Of course, it would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t work together on a timepiece that merges this expertise in both jewelry and watchmaking. Stay tuned!
Q: Carl F. Bucherer has been a partner of the Manta Trust since 2013 and funded The Manta Trust Expedition. The team of experts conducted an in-depth study of the northern reaches of the Maldives, a remote area it had previously been unable to explore. Why did the brand decide to get involved in this massive project?
Our long-term partner, the Manta Trust, explained the importance of this project, pointing out that it would be particularly beneficial to their research. For your readers who don’t know about the Manta Trust and its great work, it is a non-profit organization committed to the preservation of manta rays and the eco-system they need to survive. We funded this project, a “floating research station” that allows manta specialists to explore the remote northern atolls of the Maldives where they can discover new aggregation sites and nursery grounds and add hundreds of new individuals to the Maldives manta database.
The team of international experts on board can focus on a wide variety of research and education aims, from population ecology to habitat use, migration behavior, community engagement, historical knowledge, and much more. We are thrilled to have been able to make it happen.
Q: What does the future look like for Carl F. Bucherer and what new projects do you have in the “pipeline”?
We have just launched our new Heritage BiCompax Annual Hometown Editions, 16 watches in 5 different colored dials dedicated to 16 cities around the globe with the engraving of the respective city on the case back. These limited-edition watches are an homage from Carl F. Bucherer to all these cities which we like to call home.
Of course, we will continue to raise awareness of our brand through our new watches, by developing our global retail network and by communicating our stories creatively. We are also exploring some intriguing new partnerships and look forward to making announcements about them soon. Carl F. Bucherer is proud of its worldwide reputation for innovation and creative design and we are excited about spreading the word to people who may not yet have experienced Carl F. Bucherer. Our research team will remain focused on peripheral technology and find some compelling new ways to maintain our market leadership in this field. Of course, there are some other interesting things in the pipeline that we’re soon ready to share. I invite you and your readers to stay tuned and, of course, thank you for your interest in our brand!