The grandsons of watch brand Raymond Weil’s eponymous founder have set up a new brand of Swiss-made watches targeting at delivering affordable, classically designed timepieces for young adults.
The brand, dubbed 88 Rue du Rhone, will have its global launch at the Wonder Room in Selfrdiges’ London store in July. The department store will retain exclusivity of the brand until August but after that it will roll out to other retailers in the UK.
88 Rue du Rhone is the brainchild of Pierre and Elie Bernheim, who are the grandsons of Raymond Weil. The brothers have both previously been working for Raymond Weil, and will continue to do so, but have created this new brand from scrath after identifying what they believe is a gap in the market.
All of the watches in the 88 Rue du Rhone brand, which has been named after Geneva’s premiere luxury shopping street, are Swiss made, with 25% of the stock automatic and the majority Swiss quartz. Prices will be lower than Raymond Weil, starting at £180 and rising to £680 for diamond-set models.
The first raft of watches to be released by the brand have very classic yet contemporary stylings, and Pierre Bernheim told WatchPro that this is an essential element of capturing the gap in the market that he feels exists for a watch that will sit somewhere between Swiss sports brands such as Tissot and fashion brands such as Michael Kors or Burberry.
Bernheim said that he and his brother have been working developing the brand for the ween 18 and 35, or 25 and 40 for the upper end of the range.
He told WatchPro: “I am 30 now and I know a lot of my friends graduated a few years ago and they don’t want to wear their father’s watch,” he said. “It’s perfect for that guy who is looking for a Swiss made watch to go to work, who wants the best quality for the best value. It’s a watch that you want for a price you can afford.”
The brand will make watches for both men and women, with 35% of the ranges dedicated to women’s models.
Bernheim said that the company has managed to create high-quality Swiss watches – the watches have guilloche dials, Arabic numerals, engraved casebacks and sapphire glass – for affordable price points by utilising the relationships that the family business has built up with suppliers over the years through Raymond Weil. “To get these prices you need to get the best suppliers and then get the best out of them,” he said. “You need those relationships.”
While Raymond Weil currently operates at a higher price point than the level 88 Rue du Rhone is pitched at, Bernheim said that the company, which has been trading in the UK with its Raymond Weil brand for 35 years, has expereince of. “Raymond Weil 10 or 20 years ago was operating at that price point but for some reason or other we have had to move up, so we have the knowledge,” he said. “That’s why I believe there is a gap because it is very difficult to produce Swiss-made watches at that price.”
Once the exclusivity agreement with Selfridges expires 88 Rue du Rhone is planning to build up a wide retail distribution. Bernheim said that he is not planning to target high-end watch retailers with the brand due to the relatively low unit price. What he said is essential in a retail partner is a knowledge of Swiss watches.
Bernheim said that he has plans to distribute the brand directly rather than going through a third-party distributor and in mid July he said that the brand will have set up a dedicated UK office.
While the brand will launch in the UK, the plan is to take it to market globally. 88 Rue du Rhone will make an appearance at US trade show JCK next month. It will launch in the US in August and has already signed up 300 doors but Bernheim is confident that the appearance at JCK should lead to about 100 more.
The brand also has its sights set on most other major international markets. It will also launch an e-commerce site.