Interview with Mr. George J. von Burg III
1. Can you let us know a bit more about yourself, as well as Boutique von Burg? How long have you been working in watch industry?
I’m a 3rd generation Swiss watchmaker, working in a family business with an interesting heritage of movement development and watch designing. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time of rapid change in our industry and be able to see and then be part of these changes in both Switzerland and here in Hong Kong.
Our family decided it was time to go into and develop our own platform to sell unique and quality branded watches in the ASEAN market, offering great quality, at affordable prices. With our long history and back ground in designing and manufacturing watches for many different brands around the world, it made complete sense for us to use our background and connections to bring great products to as many potential consumers as possible.
We decided an online platform would be best way to reach new customers in this important part of the world. We also wanted to offer something different, which I think is lacking in online sales in the ASEAN market place. Our approach is to be more like a boutique, offer specially selected items that we choose and importantly, offer our customers a complete service – the same approach you would find in a family run boutique anywhere in Europe.
2. It has been 3 generations since your family gotten into the watch industry (1914-1986), what motivates you to take over the family business and persist until now? Do you have a family's traditional injunctions passed from generation to generation?
It is both a privilege and also a major responsibility to continue working and developing a family business. Businesses must evolve over time, to suit new fashions, consumer tastes, market trends and customer requirements.
Throughout our history, we have always kept our core principles in place; Quality, Precision, Durability and Affordability are the followed in every activity undertaken by our companies.
3. How many watches do you think you have created so far and how often do you create them?
We have created many millions of watches in the last 40 years and we are constantly designing new models through out the year. Our design department produces new designs monthly and we manufacture between 1-5 new designs on a monthly basis.
4. What is the first wristwatches you designed? Can you tell us the story behind it?
I designed my first Automatic Chronograph watch back in 1998. I actually wanted to create a lasting and memorable gift for my Best Men (I had 3), whom helped me at my wedding. The original designs then developed into the Manufacture George J von Burg watch brand.
Manufacture George J von Burg is headquartered in Biel-Bienne, Switzerland, which is situated in the heart of the Swiss watch industry.
5. Can you guide us through your design process? What was the hardest part of designing watches? What part of making a watch is your favorite?
Design is very personal and the inspiration can come from completely unrelated sources. When we design for ourselves or for our clients, we normally work off design brief, which provides a guideline/frame work on what we and/or the client is looking to do.
My personal influences come from art, fashion, architecture, visiting many watch boutiques around the world and from attending watch trade shows throughout the year. I am more of a traditionalist, so I prefer classic design influences. I do however enjoy working with new materials and enjoy incorporating design cues from different cultures from throughout the world.
The hardest part of the design process is getting the design idea requested from a client currently executed on paper.
My favorite part of making a watch is actually the entire process. Creating a watch design, producing the first prototypes, the modification process and then getting the final production piece on my wrist. In some cases this entire process can last up to a year, so in the end it is pretty special to get the first production piece on the wrist, understanding what was needed to get it to that stage. Our latest CLARO watch line took 18 months to produce, which shows how much time we need to get the designs just right, so only when we were 100% comfortable with the finished watches, we will now promote and offer them on our www.boutiquevonburg.com website.
6. Who are your customers at the moment? How do you want them to feel when they wear one of your products?
We have a few different clients in Europe and in the USA. The fact that we continue to get new business , makes us happy and we are glad that they trust us to continue to develop and manufacture their branded watches for them.
7. By checking the price of the products on Boutique von Burg website, most of the watches are quite affordable, why are the prices is so affordable compared to other luxury watch brands?
Our motivation to start Boutiquevonburg.com was to have a platform to offer best quality at competitively and affordable prices. We have many long standing relationships with quite a few brands and have developed our own in house brands as well.
We have cut out many of the costs associated with traditional distribution and therefore are able to give affordable prices.
8. What is your next watch that you are going to make? What the most challenges are of make it?
We have just launched a brand new range of our CLARO watches, building on our heritage and using design cues from our very successful Beach Star line for the 1960’s and 1970’s.
We also have a few new designs for the Manufacture George J von Burg brand in the works. We want to develop a new automatic series, focusing on a 3 hand & date range. The designs will be both sportive and also dressy.
The challenge is to be able to convince enough customers to buy them, as we need to produce a minimum quantity to make the prices affordable.
9. What can you say about the watch world’s brands? Which ones do you like the most?
There are so many watch brands in the world today, offering customers a big diversity of functions and looks. Watches are very personal and not everyone looks at them in the same way. My view is the watch you choose should be functional and is something you would like to wear daily. I personally tend to wear my own designs, but I do very much like to always see new watch designs and enjoy following trends.
10. What were your biggest challenges for Boutique von Burg at the moment?
I think our biggest challenge at the moment is to get our site viewed by as many people as possible, so we share our story and hopefully start a relationship with them as our customers. Developing trust always takes time to achieve.
The heart of every Manufacture George J von Burg automatic chronograph watch is the Valjoux 7750 automatic mechanical movement.
The Sport II Blue Sunray Chronograph is sized in a 44mm case and consists of a blue dial with stainless steel case and solid stainless steel bracelet. Limited in edition and specially-priced, it’s available now HERE