How an entrepreneur saved a prestigious Swiss watchmaker.

Facing the threat of Asian digital watches in the late 70s and early 80s, the Swiss watchmaking industry found itself in decline. Jean-Claude Biver saw it as an opportunity, and purchased the rights to the name Blancpain, then recognized as Switzerland’s oldest watchmaker, in 1981 for $22,000 Swiss Francs.

Mr Biver developed a new, backward-looking slogan for the firm: “Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.” It turned out to be an industry-changing move. Last year [2008] mechanical watches accounted for 70% of the value of Swiss watch exports. A decade after restarting Blancpain, Mr Biver sold it for SFr60m ($43m) to the Swatch Group, having initially paid SFr22,000.

See the link below for more of Mr. Biver’s achievements in the Swiss watchmaking world.

Source: "Salesman of the irrational " | The Economist | 11/12/2009 | Visit