Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Few Minutes with Uwe Ahrendt

Courtesy of NOMOS Glashütte
Tempus Fugit - What was your first watch?  Was it a gift?  Is there a story behind it?

Uwe Ahrendt - Right after university, on the day I received my Diploma, I bought myself an IWC Ingenieur timepiece; I had written my thesis at IWC.  I still like it, even though it stays in a drawer in my bedside table these days.

TF - When you were a boy, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

UA - I didn’t necessarily want to become a watchmaker—and, in that sense, I was an exception in Glashütte. But I always answered “something with technology” when I was asked as a child. That, at least, was somewhat free from ideology in the GDR years.

TF - Where did you go to school?  What did you study?

UA - In Glashütte: I attended elementary school, graduating in 10th grade, before heading to the notable (and notorious) Engineering College, also in Glashütte—we used to have some wild parties there! After that, I completed a joint degree in Mittweida: Business Administration and Engineering.

TF - How did you get involved in the watch industry in the first place?

UA - My great grandfather, grandfather, and father: they were all watchmakers. They all tick-tocked. 

TF - What brought you to NOMOS in the first place?

UA - My wife, Heike. She got to know Roland in 1994/95, after approaching him with: “You’re the one with the beautiful watches, aren’t you?” Heike introduced us in 1996; and then in 2000 I started at NOMOS.

TF - What is special about NOMOS?

UA - The very high added value and the great degree of in-house production, but also the fact that an independent watchmaking company is able to produce beautiful timepieces at affordable prices. And, of course, the combination of Glashütte and Berlin: we construct the watches in Glashütte—this is the best place to do it, as this is where the experts are. And we bring them to the rest of the world via Berlin, as Berlin is the European capital for art and design. People there are simply more internationally minded: this is why our design and marketing is done there, around 200 kilometers north of Glashütte. 

Courtesy of NOMOS Glashütte
TF - I realize that it might be difficult, but what is your favorite NOMOS?

UA - Right now, my favorite watch to wear is Ahoi Datum—but Lambda Weissgold has also caught my eye, so I may have to change allegiance at some point.  

TF - What is the biggest market for NOMOS Glashütte?

UA - It’s still Germany at the moment. But our global market is growing: we are seeing more and more demand from overseas, more retailers, media attention, interest… we’re expanding!

TF - What are some of the biggest challenges facing NOMOS?

UA - We want to hold our ground in an industry that is increasingly run by corporations. We don’t want to grow too quickly, but rather in a consistent, controlled manner. We also want to continue increasing the degree of in-house production for our key price range of up to 2000 EUR—and offer our customers top quality watches for very fair prices. Since we do everything from A to Z ourselves, we are able to ensure quality at every stage—but that’s not always the cheapest option…

TF - What is a typical day in the life of Uwe Ahrendt?

UA - Get up, make sure the kids eat breakfast, into the office for 7:30am, back home around 7pm (doing the sort of things Managing Directors usually get up to in between). Drink a beer in the evenings, annoy the family and head to bed. (And missing out on sport again!)

TF - Up to this point, what has been the greatest achievement for NOMOS?

UA - That we’re still here—and growing, in fact: flooding, 9/11, global economic crisis. None of this affected us, apparently. We survived it all and in 2005, at the half-way point, we started constructing our own movements in-house. Now we are producing haute horologie models, have expanded the number of employees, are in rude health financially—and are still very much enjoying what we’re doing. We’re continuously evolving and aiming for ‘The Three Es’; that is, Ethics, Enthusiasm, and Excellence. I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather be doing than working for NOMOS Glashütte with my colleagues. 

TF - What do you like to do in your spare time?

UA - I have three kids. And of course, they’re the ones I want to spend my free time with.  That said, the pile of books I’ve either started or not got round to yet is threatening to tip over soon…

TF - If you weren't doing this, what do you think you might be doing?

UA - I’d probably be working for one of our competitors—maybe I’d still be at Lange & Söhne, as I was before I started at NOMOS Glashütte.

TF - What advice do you have for future watch company leaders?

UA - Be patient, keep things realistic, be passionate about your work. But you should also never forget that there are more important things in life than watches. 

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