Monday, November 30, 2020

The Transfer Window Opens...

At ochs und junior.

Let's hop in the "WABAC" machine and hurtle back in time... to November 29th, 2019 -

Shamelessly borrowed from the worldwide infoweb

November 29th, 2019
Beat Weinmann, ochs und junior’s longtime CEO, has decided to leave the company. The Board of Directors would like to thank him for his strong contribution over the years and wish him much success in his new endeavors. Along with Kurt K├Ânig and Ludwig Oechslin, Beat co-founded ochs und junior in 2006. He has been instrumental in elevating this company to where it is today. His dedication, commitment and expertise will be missed. Beat’s successor and the company’s new organization and products will be announced shortly. In the interim, Marc Bernhardt (oj@ochsundjunior.swiss) will act as a consultant for the company in order to ensure the continuity of operations and services. We would like to thank all of our customers, partners, and friends for their ongoing support.

-The Board of Directors


Then fast forward less than 120 days -

March 16th, 2020
After managing the affairs of ochs und junior for the last three months, we are pleased to announce that Marc Bernhardt has permanently joined ochs und junior as new managing director. His appointment coincides with our imminent move to the new premises in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

And then just this past Friday -

November 27th, 2020
Marc Bernhardt, director of ochs und junior since the beginning of the year has resigned from his post, effective November 30, 2020, to pursue other professional challenges. Marc was instrumental in facilitating the transition and move from Lucerne to La Chaux-de-Fonds. The Board would like to sincerely thank him for his work and dedication during this important period and wishes him all the best in his future career and professional activities.
We would also like to announce that we are pleased to welcome three new people to our ochs und junior team: Christian Gafner, Design / Design consultant, Violaine Baudouin, Marketing, and master watchmaker Masaki Kanazawa, who works for us on a part-time basis on Ludwig Oechslin’s special ochs und junior projects.
We wish all of our new colleagues a successful start and look forward to our collaboration.

Last but not least: We are intensively working on two new watch launches, coming soon this December. We will keep you informed on our website, Instagram and Facebook.

With kindest regards.
The board and team of ochs und junior

Okay, a lot of news there, but it left almost as many unanswered questions. First and foremost, it's not lost on this guy (and I am assuming some of you readers) that Mr. Bernhardt's departure is for all intents and purposes a year to the day that Beat Weinmann departed. One thing indeed may have absolutely nothing to do with the other, but it is curious nonetheless.  

So the question now becomes - who will steer the ship? 

Beat Weinmann moved on to Chronoswiss, where it seems he has adapted the idea of creating a personal relationship with the buyer - never a bad idea.  And there he is "under the wing" of Patrik Hoffmann who has the role of "Mentor" to (I assume) the ownership and one would assume not holding the warmest and fuzziest feelings for his former employer - Ulysse Nardin.

In listening to a podcast with Marc Bernhardt from earlier this year, he did actually say a lot of things that gave me some hope for the direction that ochs und junior might take.  One key thing he mentioned was increasing the turnover.  He said it much more politely than I would (and certainly more politely than I have previously). It does not take a world class economist to read and understand a balance sheet. But it does take a willingness to adjust to realities. And the one thing that I heard Mr. Bernhardt mention was the need to make ochs und junior more "knowable", more discoverable. And on that score he is right. Because with more awareness will come more sales, and with more sales will come more turnover. More turnover - well I think you get the idea.

Now whether or not he might have turned things in a more cashflow positive direction, we will never know.  And as of this writing, there was not any indication from the ochs und junior website as to who would replace him, or if he would be replaced at all. 

What had been clear previously (per the website) was that although ochs und junior was primarily owned by Ludwig Oechslin and family, it was financially backed by Ulysse Nardin. It is clear that this is what precipitated the move southward. But it is not clear what precipitated the departure of Beat Weinmann or later of Marc Bernhardt. And as with so many things, in the final analysis, it probably doesn't really matter. 

And that is what makes the curious case of ochs und junior even more curious. Because while there is discussion about new models and enthusiasm for a path forward, it remains a bit fuzzy as to what the future will fully hold.

So watch this space, and I will do my best to report.

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