Carl F Bucherer Watch History: Innovation And Design For Spirited Personal Expression

Carl F Bucherer Watch History: Innovation And Design For Spirited Personal Expression2018-06-12T23:35:41+00:00
Carl F Bucherer Open Case Back Movement

Images courtesy of Carl F Bucherer

Carl F Bucherer is a luxury watch brand known for fine complications, jewelry-grade decorative elements, and refreshingly original designs.

One of the major technological innovations the firm pioneered is the peripheral rotor automatic movement, seen in the CFB A2000 pictured.

This groundbreaking mechanism enables the movement’s architecture to be clearly viewed rather than mostly obscured as in traditional central rotors.

CFB’s peripheral rotor system also allows for movements to be built thinner than central rotor automatics and with superior shock resistance.

Founded over 125 years ago, Carl F Bucherer remains family-owned and consequently true to its original founder’s philosophy of bold independence. It’s also the only leading luxury watch brand that originated in the city of Lucerne, located in German-speaking Central Switzerland.

CFB continues to draw inspiration from its beloved hometown, which boasts charming, stately medieval architecture even today. In a similar vein, the brand’s watches may at first seem quite traditional in style.

Lucerne Switzerland Home Of Carl F Bucherer

CFB’s digital rendering of the beautiful Kapellbrücke (“Chapel Bridge”) in Lucerne

Yet further examination often reveals unusual details, such as unorthodox dial compositions, which solidly distinguish CFB timepieces from similar offerings on the market.

CFB maintains a number of high-profile partnerships, especially with organizations in the sports world and film industry. However, it’s most famous for its affiliation with Manta Trust. This U.K.-based charitable organization conducts extensive research to aid in the conservation of endangered manta ray species.

When Was Carl F Bucherer Founded?

Carl Friedrich Bucherer Company Founder

Carl Friedrich Bucherer

The company founder, Carl Freidrich Bucherer, first established his business in 1888 as a watch and jewelry retailer.

Bucherer and his wife, Luise, chose Falkenplatz in Lucerne, Switzerland for the location of their first storefront. Right after opening shop, Bucherer quickly experienced considerable success.

In fact, the business had already earned sufficient capital to establish a second boutique only several years later!

Though he would continue to offer jewelry, Bucherer soon found himself drawn to focusing more heavily on watches.

Indeed, fine Swiss watchmaking was steadily garnering fame worldwide in the late 1800s. Armed with keen business sense and exquisite aesthetic tastes, Bucherer was well-equipped to become an influential force in the burgeoning Swiss watch market.

Carl F Bucherer Vintage Bucherer Watch Advert

Vintage print advertisement for Bucherer

Is CFB Related To The Bucherer Group?

Indeed, the Bucherer Group / Bucherer AG is the parent company of Carl F. Bucherer. Both entities can also trace their beginnings directly from the company originally founded by Carl Freidrich Bucherer in 1888.

Carl F Bucherer First Storefront

Storefront of Bucherer’s original watch & jewelry shop

Watch Brand Carl F Bucherer

Carl F. Bucherer is the Bucherer Group’s own watch brand. It was revamped in 2001, renamed from “Bucherer Watches” in order to more pointedly honor its founder.

Carl F Bucherer Inauguration Baselworld 2016

Official inauguration of the “Carl F Bucherer: Made in Lucerne” brand identity at Baselworld 2016

To avoid confusion, since we will be focusing solely on watches in this article, we will refer to the company by its current-day name, “Carl F. Bucherer,” even as we describe events in its history that took place during periods where its official name was “Bucherer Watches” or simply “Bucherer.”

What Is The Bucherer Group?

The Bucherer Group ranks among the largest chains of watch and jewelry retailers in all of Europe. In particular, because of its early ties to Rolex, the Bucherer Group remains a leading Rolex retailer.  It’s known for offering customers perhaps the greatest variety of Rolex models in the world.

Bucherer Zermatt Storefront Winter 2017

Bucherer storefront on Bahnhofstrasse street in Zermatt, Switzerland

The company also sells a wide selection of pieces from many other top watch brands. Their offerings encompass the range from more affordable brands, such as Swatch, to high-end luxury classics like Audemars Piguet. The Bucherer Group also boasts a first-class customer service department, which is authorized to service and repair watches for any of its constituent brands.

You can find the complete list of companies represented by Bucherer AG, as well as detailed brand portfolios, on the Bucherer website.

Early History & Distinctions

Let’s examine some of Carl F. Bucherer’s historic models and discuss what set the brand apart from competitors throughout its history:

Early Adopter Of Wristwatches & Quirky Pocket Watches

Carl F. Bucherer was one of the first watch companies to seriously adopt the watch strap. Before the mid-1900s, especially for men, pocket watches were overwhelmingly the watch of choice. Indeed, wristwatches were viewed as more as jewelry than anything, and yet they were relatively uncommon even among women.

Carl F Bucherer Early Ladies Wristwatches

Unlike many other brands, however, CFB was quick to recognize the enduring charm and practicality of the wristwatch. By the early twentieth century, the brand had already created and released countless wristwatch designs for both men and women. At the same time, Carl F Bucherer also produced many charming, unusual pocket watch designs, such as the peek-a-boo carriage watch shown below.

Carl F Bucherer 1920s Wristwatch 1930s Pocketwatch

Left: One of the earliest Bucherer ladies’ wristwatches; Right: Fancy carriage pocket watch

In 1919, CFB launched its very first collection, a line of delicate, ornate Art Deco-style jewelry watches for women. CFB, with its jewelry house beginnings, has always been welcoming to female customers. It would pioneer many stylistic innovations in ladies’ watches. Many ladies’ CFB designs include elaborate bracelets, intricate engravings and gem work, decorative watch covers, and other beautifully feminine details.

Carl F Bucherer Ladies 1930s Wristwatches

Vintage Bucherer ladies’ wristwatches released in 1929 (left) and 1930 (right)

Early Carl F. Bucherer men’s’ and unisex wristwatches, though typically more reserved in style, also exhibited avant-garde elements such as cushion, rectangular, and tonneau case shapes.

Carl F Bucherer 1930s Mens Unisex Wristwatches

Bucherer men’s / unisex wristwatches from the 1930s

Masculine pocket watches from CFB in the 1920s and 1930s, many of which featured square or rectangular rather than traditional round faces, were also stunningly clever and original in design, as seen below:

Carl F Bucherer 1920s 1930s Pocket Watches

Quirky pocket watches with unusual dust covers and hideaway mechanisms remained a signature staple for Bucherer watches throughout history, as seen in the examples from 1970 (left) and 1981 (right) below:

Carl F Bucherer Hideaway Pocket Watches

Continuously Family-Owned & Independent

Nearly from the time they were born, Carl Bucherer’s two sons, Ernst and Carl Edward, were trained to become part of the family business. Both sons took up professions directly related to watchmaking and jewelry. Ernst studied to become a watchmaker and Carl Edward went into goldsmithing.

Carl F Bucherer Sons Carl Edward Ernst

Carll F. Bucherer’s sons, Ernst & Carl Edward

After inheriting leadership of the company, the brothers made sure to adhere closely to their father’s original mission and philosophy.  So, instead of bending to meet the latest fashion trends, they ensured that CFB bravely forged its own path with unique signature styles.  The brand’s designs appeal highly to free-thinking, iconoclastic individuals who highly value personal expression.

Carl F Bucherer President Joerg Bucherer

Current Carl F. Bucherer President Jörg G. Bucherer

Today, the company is one of the few watch brands that remain fully independent and owned by their founding family. The third-generation Bucherer president, Jörg G. Bucherer, took leadership in 1976. Under him, the firm continues to uphold the family legacy of watchmaking with a daringly unconventional bent.

Longtime Partnership With Rolex

In 1924, Ernst Bucherer started selling watches from Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex. Though Rolex watches were virtually unknown back then, Ernst felt they were an excellent addition to CFB’s repertoire.

Early Rolex Watches Sold By Bucherer

Early Rolex Oyster, the world’s 1st waterproof wristwatch (left) and a Rolex ladies’ bracelet watch (right)

Little did Ernst know that Rolex would grow to become one of the most notable watch brands in the world! Today, Rolex remains one of the Bucherer Group’s top watch industry partners.

Pursuing International Markets

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Bucherer watches were only available in Bucherer retailers. Thus, for much of the company’s history, the Bucherer name hadn’t ventured past Swiss borders.

Carl F Bucherer Opens Dubai Mall Boutique

Carl F. Bucherer CEO Sascha Moeri introducing a new Dubai Mall boutique in 2015

Jörg G. Bucherer changed this in 2001 by creating the Carl F. Bucherer brand and debuting it on the international stage. For the first time, Bucherer watches were promoted and sold all over the world.

Carl F Bucherer Brand Ambassador Li Bingbing

Chinese actress Li Bingbing, CFB’s first global brand ambassador, at a 2016 boutique opening in Shanghai

Today, Carl F Bucherer is continuing to build and expand its international reputation. The brand recently established boutiques in Shanghai and other key cities throughout China and other Asian countries. According to CEO Sasha Moeri, it also plans to heavily pursue further development in the Middle East and South America, particularly in the promising Brazilian luxury watch market.

Quartz Pioneer

The “quartz crisis” began in 1969 with Seiko’s introduction of the Astron, the world’s first quartz wristwatch. The innovation of quartz movements afforded incredible precision and reliability, unprecedented by any mechanical movements, yet at a fraction of the price.

Though the Swiss watch industry undoubtedly recognized the immense power of quartz, many Swiss firms believed it was safer to stick to mechanical movements. You can learn more about various movement types on our watch movements guide.

Beautiful Architecture In Lucerne Switzerland

After all, Swiss brands held a monopoly share of the global watch market. With their long traditions in mechanical mastery and artisanal decorative techniques, it was not hard to see why. Also, Swiss neutrality had allowed Swiss companies to solidly establish themselves on the global market while competitors from other countries were obliged to focus on war efforts during the First and Second World Wars.

However, most Swiss watch companies, even those who were immensely successful prior to the quartz crisis, soon found themselves close to bankruptcy. Clinging purely to their mechanical roots, in hindsight, was a dangerous move in a world revolutionized by quartz.

Early Carl F Bucherer Quartz Wristwatches

Quartz CFB wristwatches released in 1969 (left) and 1970 (right, contains Beta 21 movement)

CFB, on the other hand, while still treasuring its time-honored mechanical traditions, fully pursued quartz development. In fact, it was one of about 20 forward-thinking Swiss brands that funded work on the Beta 21 movement, concurrent with Seiko’s Astron development.

The Beta 21 ultimately proved unsuccessful due to a poor choice of semiconductors. However, CFB’s readiness to adapt to briskly-changing times allowed it to ride out the worst of the crisis relatively untouched. Furthermore, the brand’s early experience with quartz technology lent it a head start. CFB would release many fine quartz wristwatches throughout the 1970s and 1980s, like those below:

Carl F Bucherer Quartz Models 1970s 1980s

What Are The Advantages Of Peripheral Rotor Movements?

CFB’s development of its famed peripheral rotor automatic movements was a major technical breakthrough. It’s an impressive feat that many brands pursued but then eventually abandoned. Even juggernaut luxury brand Patek Philippe had all but given up on developing a successful peripheral rotor movement.

Carl F Bucherer Peripheral Rotor Movement

But what exactly is a peripheral rotor? Manual-wound watches must be wound through the crown periodically in order to keep running. But automatic watches can wind themselves through a component called a winding rotor, which rotates whenever the watch is moved.

Therefore, as long as one wears the watch daily, it can generate enough power to run continuously solely through the natural motions of the wrist.

Traditional Rotor Drawbacks

However, traditional central rotors can add a considerable amount of thickness to the movement, which is undesirable for those who prefer the sleek elegance and wearability of thin watches. Also, those who love transparent case-backs know that central rotors cover over half of the back of the movement, obscuring much of the movement’s beautiful intricate architecture.

Carl F Bucherer Central Versus Peripheral Rotor

Central rotors (left) hide more of the movement than peripheral rotors (right)

Micro-rotors, which are small rotors built right into the movement, allow for thinner movements and hide less of the movement. However, the micro-rotor solution introduces other problems. For example, micro-rotors are typically very heavy and suffer from increased wear and poor shock resistance.

Peripheral Rotor Improvements

CFB’s peripheral winding rotors, on the other hand, run around the circumference (the periphery, thus the name) of the movement. This makes for a thinner movement that enables full viewing of its components.

Carl F Bucherer Watchmakers

Carl F Bucherer watchmakers hard at work

Carl F Bucherer’s first peripheral rotor movement, the CFB A1000, was among the first projects undertaken by the firm after it became a full Manufacture in 2008 by acquiring Techniques Horlogères Appliquées S.A. (THA) in Sainte-Croix. It took about 3 years of research and development to refine the unique, rather complex design principle, which includes several patented state-of-the-art features:

  • Bidirectional winding – turning in either direction creates energy
  • Dynamic Shock Absorption (DSA) – protection against shocks with DLC-coated rollers
  • Central Dual Adjusting System (CDAS) – nearly eliminates the need for adjustment

You can see the peripheral winding rotor in action in this official CFB video on the newer A2000 movement:

Men’s Watch Collections

CFB currently offers two dedicated collections targeted to women and three men’s / unisex collections. Let’s take a closer look at the men’s collections:

Adamavi

The Adamavi is CFB’s family of classic dress watches. This line is all about loving life and indulging in its luxuries. This is reflected in the name “Adamavi,” which roughly translates to “I have loved” or “I have enjoyed” in Latin. They’re the perfect choice for a modern gentleman, exuding timeless, highbrow elegance.

Carl F Bucherer Adamavi Rose Gold Luxury Watch

The watches in this family exhibit a more traditional look than those in the other collections. The dials are classy and tasteful, with slim dauphine hands and clean Roman or Arabic numerals. Available functions include date windows and small seconds sub-dials. Most Adamavi models are manually-wound with sapphire crystal case-backs that permit clear viewing of their immaculately-finished movements.

Carl F Bucherer Adamavi Style Variations

Carl F Bucherer offers Adamavi models in 18K rose gold or stainless steel. Dials come in white or champagne, and straps are black alligator leather, steel with folding clasps, or a combo of steel and rose gold.

Manero

The name “Manero” was derived from the Latin word manuaria, meaning “that which is lead by the hand.”

Carl F Bucherer Manero Tourbillion Watch

Manero watches house most of CFB’s most noteworthy complications, from perpetual and retrograde calendars to flyback chronographs. In fact, CFB’s very first tourbillon model was a Manero, shown above.

Carl F Bucherer Various Manero Models

Manero Chronoperpetual (left), Peripheral Limited Edition (center), & Moonphase (right)

Style-wise, the Manero line tends to keep it simple, so that the main attraction remains the impressive complications offered. Dauphine hands, geometric hour markers, and cleanly-arranged sub-dials and windows are stylistic hallmarks of the family. Most models feature luxe Louisiana alligator leather straps in a stunning array of rich colors, though variations with gold or steel folding clasp bracelets can also be found.

Carl F Bucherer Manero Flyback Blogger Campaign

Clockwise from top left: Luke Ditella, Blake Scott, Igee Okafor, Adam Gallagher, and Brian Sacawa

Carl F. Bucherer recently launched a brilliant advertising campaign involving the Manero Flyback, entitled “Lucerne Travels with You.” The brand selected five popular men’s lifestyle bloggers to serve as “digital ambassadors.” Each of the five bloggers was given his choice of Manero Flyback and invited to share his unique experience with the watch, commemorated through a series of short videos, candid snaps, and stylish photo shoots. This campaign was part of CFB’s extensive digital rebranding efforts, initiated in 2016.

Patravi

Finally, Patravi is CFB’s line of sport, tool, and diving watches, all built for durability and excellent precision. Fittingly, Patravi means “I have accomplished” in Latin. Many Patravi models are certified chronometers, which means they’ve met the exacting standards of the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC). This is a truly impressive feat, considering that only 3% of all Swiss watches achieve COSC certification!

Carl F Bucherer EvoTec TravelTec ScubaTec Watches

There are three main sub-families of the Patravi line. The EvoTec, at left above, has a unique rounded rectangular case and often includes a power reserve function. The TravelTec (center) is a traveler’s chronograph featuring 3 time zones. The ScubaTec (right) is the Patravi diving watch. It’s water resistant to a whopping 500m and quite popular among amateur diving enthusiasts and professional divers alike.

Carl F Bucherer Patravi T Graph Watch

Carl F. Bucherer’s Patravi “T-Graph” with its distinctive tonneau (barrel) shaped case

In terms of style, Patravi watches are big, bold, sporty, and rugged. The line also features the highest variety of different case shapes, functions, and dial compositions. A wide range of useful complications are available, such as GMT, power reserves, and complex chronographs, some of which include multiple time zones!

Carl F Bucherer has released many exciting limited edition series in the Patravi line, some examples of which we will discuss in the brand partnerships section later in this article.

Current Leadership & Future Plans

Charismatic Carl F. Bucherer CEO Sascha Moeri was born and raised in Bienne, Switzerland.  He grew up steeped in the world of watchmaking, with many of his family and friends working in the industry.

Carl F Bucherer CEO Sascha Moeri

After studying marketing and economics in college and graduate school, Moeri quickly found work with the Swatch Group. Early in his career, he worked with Nicolas Hayek, the Swatch Group’s founder, a period Moeri describes as “inspirational.” Actually, it was a touching personal exchange with Hayek that made young Moeri aspire to become a watch company CEO.

After his work with the Swatch Group came to a close, Moeri tackled rebranding for the watch firm Milus. Over eight years, he helped the struggling firm rebuild itself and ultimately find a path back to success. Then, in 2010, he applied to work at Carl F. Bucherer.

The position was extremely competitive, but after meeting Jörg Bucherer, Moeri was determined to land the job. He deeply admired Bucherer’s straightforward, honest manner and his visionary focus for his company.

Today, Moeri works closely with President Jörg G. Bucherer to preserve the Bucherer family legacy as well as to usher the brand into a new era of watchmaking.

Free-Spirited Personal Expression

Carl F. Bucherer recognizes the chief role that customers’ expressions of individuality play in their personal experience of luxury. The company believes that designing timepieces that can truly express each watch enthusiast’s unique personality is just as important as providing top quality workmanship and materials.

Carl F Bucherer Vintage Watch Catalog

Offering variety has always been a leading concern for CFB, as seen in this vintage catalog

Therefore, CFB strives to consistently produce enough watches each year to offer its customers a variety of choices. At the same time, it recognizes the importance of maintaining exclusivity and keeping production standards sky-high. For CFB, that sweet spot between “growth and exclusivity” translates to an annual production of roughly 25,000 watches a year.

Plans For International Growth

CFB is aiming to considerably strengthen its position in North America by targeting the needs of the U.S. market. For example, because recent models in the Patravi TravelTech and ScubaTec lines were such a huge hit among American consumers, the company plans to focus more on its sports watch offerings.

Carl F Bucherer Pathos Launch Lisa Haydon

CFB brand ambassador Lisa Haydon at the Nov. 2014 launch of the Pathos line in Mumbai

Furthermore, the brand is also seeking expansion in the Greater China area, opening up a number of boutiques there in recent years. Another promising Asian market of interest for CFB is India. Here, the brand has a strong partnership with Ethos Watches, the largest retailer of luxury watches in the country.

Brand Ambassadors / Partnerships

Carl F Bucherer leverages its considerable global influence through key partnerships in:

The Swiss Sports World

First of all, CFB has a number of high-achieving brand ambassadors in Swiss athletics:

  • Swiss ski racer Wendy Holdener
  • Olympic champion skier Sandro Viletta
  • Congolese Swiss champion sprinter Mujinga Kambunji
Carl F Bucherer Sports Brand Ambassadors

Wendy Holdener (left), Sandro Viletta (center) and Mujinga Kambunji (right)

But most prominently, since July 2016, CFB also served as the partner and Official Timekeeper of Swiss national football teams. In honor of this partnership, CFB designed a special limited edition ScubaTec, replete with red accents denoting team colors and a team logo.

Carl F Bucherer Swiss National Football Teams

The Film Industry

Carl F Bucherer has a diverse group of brand ambassadors hailing from the film industry, such as:

  • Indian-born actress, supermodel and designer Lisa Haydon
  • Stunt coordinator and 87eleven company founder Chad Stahelski
  • Chinese actress and vocalist Li Bingbing, CFB’s first global ambassador
Carl F Bucherer Film Brand Ambassadors

Lisa Haydon (left), Chad Stahelski (center) & Li Bingbing (right)

Through its relationship with Chad Stahelski’s stunt and action design firm 87eleven, CFB also became an official partner of at least two big-name Hollywood action movies: “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde.”

Carl F Bucherer Moeri With Keanu Reeves

CEO Sascha Moeri with “John Wick” star Keanu Reeves at the movie’s Oct. 13th premiere in NY

Impressively, in “Atomic Blonde” starring Charlize Theron, CFB watches were very prominently featured. Rather than being mere incidental items shown onscreen, three CFB watches actually played pivotal roles in the movie’s plot. Therefore, Sascha Moeri proudly proclaims, the watches are “heroes” in the story!

Carl F Bucherer Atomic Blonde Movie

Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde” (left) & at the movie’s July 2017 premiere in Berlin (right)

Classical Music

Carl F Bucherer honors both its Lucerne heritage and its deep appreciation of classical music through its ongoing sponsorshop of the American Friends of Lucerne Festival. This prestigious music festival supports young musical talents from the U.S. who aspire to attend the Swiss Lucerne Festival Academy.

Carl F Bucherer Swiss Lucerne Festival Academy

Automobile Design Labs

Rinspeed, a Swiss automotive innovation lab, integrates Carl F Bucherer watches right into some of its concept cars! A recent example is Rinspeed’s rule-defying Σtos car, based on the BMW i8. The self-driving hybrid sports car, which boasts a plethora of extravagant high-tech features including a built-in rear drone, comes with a special CFB TravelTec at the center of the dashboard.

Carl F Bucherer Rinspeed Σtos Builtin TravelTec

Conservation: Manta Trust

CFB works closely with the U.K. charity Manta Trust. This organization works in over 20 countries to help preserve manta rays species endangered by overfishing and other man-made environmental threats.

Carl F Bucherer Partner Manta Trust

Though manta rays are one of the most recognizable sea creatures, manta research has been rather limited thus far. Consequently, scientists still have much to learn about manta ray behavior, life cycles, and habitats.

Manta Trust uses rather sophisticated tracking methods to study individual manta rays. Because of this efficient tracking, the organization’s scientists can uncover detailed trends and other key data on manta rays, both as individuals and as parts of larger groups.

Carl F Bucherer ScubaTec Manta Trust Watch

CFB’s limited edition watches for Manta Trust most of all exemplify the brand’s emphasis on personalization. Most noteworthy is how every watch is connected to a real individual manta ray, identified by unique patterns on its stomach. These patterns were recorded via underwater video by the Manta Trust team and are engraved on each of the 188 limited edition Manta Trust ScubaTec pieces.

Furthermore, each watch’s owner can even name and keep track of his/her manta ray online  It’s truly a creative way to provide CFB customers with a personalized timepiece. At the same time, it offers CFB customers an important opportunity to aid conservation efforts.

For More On Carl F Bucherer

If you enjoyed our guide to the history, company milestones, and major watch families of Carl F. Bucherer, be sure to visit the official website for more information.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about watches in general, check out the detailed guides, brand histories, and watch model reviews on the Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage. Thanks for reading!

Carl F Bucherer Watches
Reviewed by Paul Anthony, on .
"Traditional Swiss watches with an appealing twist. Carl F Bucherer never fails to impress with its inventive designs and world-class sophistication."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★