Europastar Entry-level Swiss Watchmaking on the counter-offensive
Alexander Bennouna, former CEO of Victorinox watches and an expert in the challenges facing the most affordable segment of Swiss watch production, is launching a Swiss-made brand priced under CHF 400 – DecideAndAct – positioned around “21st-century values”. He is betting on the engagement value of a brand with “social meaning”, at a time when the entry-level segment has been struggling with structural problems for several years.
A former CEO of the Victorinox watch division and sales manager at Swatch Group, Alexander Bennouna has been a regular in the columns of Europa Star for decades. His latest job, however, has taken him in a new direction. He has become an entrepreneur, launching a watch start-up, DecideAndAct (d&a), with Martin Riemer, another industry veteran who has been active in the high-end watchmaking sector.
The start-up’s brand concept aims to shake up the Swiss entry-level segment, which has lost a lot of traction in recent years, in terms of both value and volume (8 million Swiss-made quartz models were exported last year, compared with 13 million in 2019 and over 20 million in 2015). In short, there is an urgent need to save a segment that, in its time, helped to save the Swiss industrial fabric! Many observers believe that a healthy watchmaking ecosystem in Switzerland requires strong supply at all price levels, despite the sector’s general move upmarket.
Can taking a stand on societal and environmental issues be a vector for reviving a more “democratic” product offer? Alexander Bennouna firmly believes so: the DecideAndAct concept is strongly rooted in “committed” watchmaking. His collections, positioned in a price range between CHF 200 and 400 (with a first Kickstarter campaign starting at CHF 195), are made from sustainable materials, notably recycled PET fibre and cactus leather, and their packaging is reusable, biodegradable and vegan. They are thus fully in line with the new environmental focus of watchmaking (which we described in a long article to be found here).
Beyond the ecological design focus, another defining feature of the Geneva-based start-up is its partnerships with NGOs, through which a percentage of the profits are donated to specific projects chosen by the clients themselves. Peace, diversity and ecology are among the themes addressed. We interviewed its founder.