By Roberta Naas
As Ernest Borel celebrates its 155th anniversary this year, it pulls out all the stops in product and service – offering consumers Swiss watchmaking at value-oriented prices. The brand is steeped in rich Swiss watchmaking tradition (it was founded in 1856 by Jules Borel and Paul Courvoisier) and with the recent establishment of Ernest Borel USA, comes back to the United States after a 30-year respite.
“We are excited to be here in the U.S. market again, where we bring a great product under the designing philosophy of pursuing constant perfection and offering good value,” says Thomas Huggler, business development manager of Ernest Borel USA.
The collection retails from $650 to $2,500, with the core of the business being in the $1,300 to $1,500 range for thin automatics and chronometers. Among the newest pieces, unveiled at BaselWorld and making their way into the U.S. market now, are key anniversary watches and special models.
The 155th Anniversary Limited Skeleton Collection commemorates the brand’s achievements over the past 155 years. It’s a masterwork with its ETA 2892 skeleton automatic movement and carved Louis XIV decorations. Technically advanced and requiring hundreds of hours of intense engraving workmanship, the 155th Anniversary Limited Skeleton Collection watch is offered in pink gold-plated steel, or in stainless steel, rhodium plated. The case is 40.5 mm with antireflective sapphire crystal and case back. The rose gold version (which retails for $4,505) is equipped with a brown alligator strap and created in a numbered limited edition of 1,000 pieces, while the steel piece ($4,120) features a stainless steel satin finished bracelet and is built in a numbered limited edition of 550 pieces.
Also a testimony to the rich heritage of the brand and commemorating Jules Borel’s dedication to fine mechanics is the new Jules Borel Collection Retrograde Model, created in a limited numbered edition of 688 pieces. The stainless steel 40 mm watch, with steel bracelet, offers hour, minute, second and day indicated by hand, with retrograde date indicator and power reserve indicator in a clean, well-balanced, sublimely beautiful guilloche white or anthracite dial. In steel the mechanical watch with Swiss made automatic movement retails for $3,355. A gold version is also available.
The brand is also adept at diamond work, and in the Borel series it has added a BorelChrono with mechanical movement and diamond-set bezel.
Each watch is built with extreme attention to detail. The brand deftly moves from complexities to sporty design, and offers a grand balance of function and distinguished appeal in its Athletic Collection. Among the new models are a self-winding chronograph and a classically sporty Braque COSC-certified Chronometer with automatic ETA 2834-2 movement with two-toned bracelet and sun-brushed dial ($1,584).
In contrast, there is also a bold chronograph model with engraved bezel and tachymeter scale with luminescent hands and chevron guilloché. Priced at $2,384, the 42 mm watch is water resistant to 50 meters and brings the sports watch category full circle – offering consumers everything from subtle to professional sports attire.
Complementing the Athletic series is the Romance Collection, which celebrates romanticism and classic beauty. Ernest Borel is one of the few brands that celebrates couples and offers couples watches. Its newest COSC-certified chronometers in the Romance series are sleek beauties that a woman can be proud to wear.
“We have always had a solid reputation of offering good product and selection, and great customer service and we will continue this,” says Huggler, who notes that one of the great assets of the Ernest Borel line is that retailers can choose exactly which product and how much of it they want to carry—so they can easily sate their clientele’s needs.