Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S04 ep1 : Yann Gamard, Glashutte Original Watches, [Germany]

Interview with Yann Gamard

Glashütte Original is a German luxury watchmaking company founded in 1994 by the privatization of VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB).[1] GUB was an East German conglomerate formed in 1951 from the watch companies based in Glashütte. This included A. Lange & Söhne, founded in 1845, and now owned by Richemont. Glashütte Original is one of the few watchmakers that uses its own movements, and it has 10 proprietary movement innovations.


Glashutte original is the continuation of 170 years history of German watchmaking. It was created by four watchmakers in 1845 who sought to put together an alternative to Swiss watch making.

They went through three wars, four different philosophical and political systems, Royalism, Nazism, Communism, Democracy, all sorts of different chaotic changes in their lives contrary to this history being a little bit more in quieter zone. And because of this the population sort of built its survival through watchmaking and through the belief and faith in watchmaking.

They actually learnt watchmaking in Switzerland and they discovered this Valley where people were mining silver and working silver. So they thought the talent was quite an adequate talent to be able to do watchmaking. And with the German culture, German mindset, and German skill setthey thought it would be a good combination to be an alternative to Swiss watchmaking.

I was born in Paris. I have sold kebabs, I didn’t drive a bus because I didn’t have the driver’s license, but I did just about everything else you could think of when I was a kid and a student. So after that I worked for a big American company Proctor and Gamble and then I fell in love with the watchmaking 25 years ago.

The profession of watchmaking is such a great proficient that once you meet these people you sort of tend to admire them and tend to want to support them if you can.

At Proctor I work with brands, here I work with brands. For me it’s the brand that makes the difference. I don’t think I went from big to small or whatever. What I did withGlashutte Original was I help to support a top brand, completely exceptional brand at the top of the value pyramid and the percepton pyramid.


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Their German mindset, the German spirit, the German level of expectation, the German care, German attention, German quality and German finish.

When the Swiss have developed a good process and a great way of doing things, the Germans will take the same or have developed it too. By then the check every step again and again anyway because they are Germans.


The Swiss watchers make the norm so everybody has the impression that they are international. There’s a Swiss trade for watches also yes verify fine. The German watches are high end quality also, a bit more sturdy a bit more robust and they have their own distinctive look. And the movementsimportant thing also are a little bit distinctive.

I joined the Swatch group in 1988 and when I was asked by the group to support Glashuttewhich was three years ago, I jumped at it. Because I knew the brand I had been working with the Swatch group in countries to distribute and sell GlashutteOriginal. I had appreciated it from that angle and when he asked me if I would support them  I said gladly.

It’s in the Statt of Glashutte which is the reunion of seven villages we call it the StatoGlashutte. And so we have 2 of our factories and the third factory we have it in Pforzheim which is in the south of Germany and that’s more the jewelry part of Germany and that’s where we do our dials and our cases. But the movement is done in Glashutte.

We make 95% of the watches in-house and of course we are supported by inaudible [13:25] andinaudible [13:26] which are few of the very high-end brands of the swatch group which provides us with the pieces we don’t produce ourselves.


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Glashutte has been existing all along. During the DDR times it was a big company. It was the biggest exporter to the West, actually a big revenue maker for the DDR at the time. It’s always been there all along. What people have known of lately is once the wall has gone down and once they have sort of re-launched it in a modern way. But it’s always been there.

Before that it had already started. It had re-started in this new modern economic world and it had reached out to the Germans, Austrians and the Swiss. Then rapidly Glashutte came to a plateau in its resources, joining the group was probably the best thing that could ever happen to Glashutte now taking advantage of the Swatch group distribution network, the Swatch group engineering skills, the Swatch group exclusive pieces  and of course the Swatch group finances.

I have never thought of Mr. Hayek as a Lebanese guy because he is so international and I have seen him acting in so many different projects. But I agree he is a little bit of a crazy guy. That’s what I admired about him, he was a great man. I have had the opportunity and the luck to work with him. It was the experience of my life. He saved the world of watch making. I think all of this around us wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t had the courage at the point in time to resist the envy of the banks to try and sell the brands away. He has been true to the industry, true to the watch maker. Everybody in the watch industry and I mean everybody in the watch industry should be thankful to him because without him they wouldn’t be around and would have a job.



Jewellery Theatre Elements

I can tell what the challenge is for Glashutte Original. It is to satisfy the demand of our customers. We enjoy through the new mediums, through internet, through blogs, through forums, we enjoy a customer that is more knowledgeable. We enjoy a customer that is more and more informed, more and more curious, more and more immediate in his expectations. That I think suits for us, probably suits for the others too and our responsiveness to this new demand, to this new expectation and our capability of responding properly will probably determine the success of some of the brands. What I’m really saying is that way back when we were using a distribution system that had the time to talk to a consumer who would have the time to come visit him several times and so on. Nowadays tings have a rhythm which is completely different.

For a man his main piece of jewel and for women one more piece of jewel. It’s also a very intimate piece of you because you wear it on your skin and you want it to represent who you are or what you feel like saying at the moment when you wear it. Because you wear several or people have several watches it’s not necessarily for the time saying but it’s necessary for the saying and the time giving, and it’s a great story teller. More and more a storyteller, that’s why I was talking about these informed customers. Men want to be able to talk about all these complications and the swan neck and color wheel and so on.


Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

Many things have already been in existence or again invented most of the things that had to do with the tourbillon. He invented most of the simplest tourbillon. Glashutte invented a flying tourbillon and from then on some people did different things, the 51 systems watch and the mechanical watch with one screw. So you see I can still surprise you with a lot of innovation which are determining innovations of the future. The difficulty nowadays is for people to keep up with all the innovations. Not so much that they are no innovations but that so many new things are developed, so many patents are made about that even we do not necessarily know of everything happening.

We launched two years ago a watch that managed the 37 time zones of the world on a perpetual calendar basis. Managing including the summer time and the winter time, forward and backward on one crone, this was in 2011. Somebody asked me when we presented the movement that we did this year if we were actually going to sell this movement to other brands, and that I found really funny.


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Yann Gamard, Glashutte Original Watches, Germany