Thursday, April 6, 2017

Connecting the Dots - Guinand

Courtesy of Guinand
As we continue our game of "Seven Degrees of Helmut Sinn"...

So let's pick up the thread and connect the dots on the Guinand story.  Everybody always likes to start at the past and work their way forward, but at Tempus Fugit we like to mix it up a bit, so let's start with the present -

Guinand is currently owned by Matthias Klueh, who purchased it towards the end of 2014.  Mr. Klueh is a Frankfurt native and was a fairly enthusiastic collector of Mr. Sinn's watches.  Prior to his acquisition of Guinand, Mr. Klueh worked for a tiny little mom and pop operation called Honeywell ; )

Currently, Guinand offers an impressive, but well edited collection of chronographs and watches that are priced extremely well.

Courtesy of Rod Hess
As mentioned earlier, I got the chance to check out a few of the models.  And they are definitely of a quality that easily demand a higher price.
Courtesy of Rod Hess
And although Guinand is now safely ensconced in it's current hometown of Frankfurt, not unlike the Red Violin, this is a brand that has a long and interesting life.  And only recently has that life been in Frankfurt.

So let's hop in the way-back machine and travel to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  Guinand started out life a bit south of their current location, in Switzerland.  Yes pals and gals, Switzerland.  

And things had been humming along quite nicely for them, and business while not through the roof, was steady.  And it is here that a certain well known legend of German watch lore enters the frame.  In Switzerland.  Because, one of the most "down-home" German brands out there did not exactly start out life as 100% German.  

Because... back in the day, Helmut Sinn was not the legendary maker of famous watches bearing his name.  He was a watchmaker looking to start his own brand, and as a result, Sinn came into being.  And although he was a watchmaker, Mr. Sinn did what pretty much most independent brands did at the time, he used an assembler - what we now refer to as "private label" or "white label" provider.  And as it happened, that was the business that Guinand (the original Swiss iteration) was in the business of doing.

And hence, many of the early, early Sinn watches bore the Swiss made legend on their dials.  And I know what you're thinking - Big deal, so Sinn was a customer, but what's the real connection?

Well, like Willy Wonka, Helmut Sinn did not want to necessarily go on forever, and he sold the brand that bore his name in 1994.  And that might have been the end of the story.  

But then, that wouldn't be the feel-good, love story, comeback triumph of Guinand, would it?

Re-enter Mr. Sinn who was, apparently, still not quite finished with the watch business.  And although he did not own his own name (at least in terms of attaching it to a brand), he did have his eye on a different little piece of his horological past and he purchased Guinand.  He relocated the company to Germany, ceased the private label operations, and focused on creating one or two solid brands.  In 2006, Mr. Sinn stepped aside once more, and Horst Hassler was entrusted to run Guinand.  And so he did, but none of us is set to go on forever and Mr. Hassler was ready to retire himself around 2014.  

And once again, that would have been the end of it, but one of Frankfurt's own favorite sons stepped forward and rescued Guinand from what appeared to be certain oblivion.  And that is what brings us up to the present, and connects the dots of this story to where we began - Matthias Klueh stepped in, purchased what was left, cleared the debris, refocused the brand and here we are!

Courtesy of Guinand

And now Guinand is back, making watches in Germany and carrying the torch for affordable watchmaking.
Guinand is available through their online store, and for those who can make the trip to Frankfurt, a wonderful space to come in, try something on, and if it takes your fancy, make your purchase!

Courtesy of Guinand
And this is another very strong tie to what Sinn was really in the business of doing - connecting to individual customers on a very personal level.  
Courtesy of Guinand
And when I think about it, this is really the way that a watch purchase should be in this impersonal age -
Courtesy of Guinand

I strongly encourage you to check out Guinand either via their site, or should your travels make it possible, by visiting their store in Frankfurt.  It's a great watch and an even better story.

No comments:

Post a Comment