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Post by koimaster » December 5th 2014, 11:05am

From 2001 but worth reading




By Jack Freedman – October 2001

As one who has been associated closely with the IWC Watch Company for the past twenty years, it has been my distinct privilege and joy to have personally met Mr. Gunter Blumlein many times during my periodic visits to the IWC company in Schaffhausen.

Besides his love and passion for watches, and particularly the three brands under his supervision, IWC, JLC, and LANGE, Mr. Blumlein was very much a travelling salesman, chief excecutive, and statesman all wrapped together. But his achievements on a personal and business level far surpass the ordinary and common type of individuals normally found running large companies. His genius lie not merely in his foresight and sound grasp of juggling multi responsibilities at the three sister companies mentioned but that of injecting a personal interest on the human level into every phase of their operations.

Mr. Blumlein very well understood the total sum of the components within and outside of the corporation. He knew exactly what makes each individual in and out of the organization tick. It is, therefore, no wonder to me that each time I had the pleasure of being in his company that I felt that individual attention bestowed on me during and after our meeting.

On one of my visits in Schaffhausen, Mr. Blumlein had just returned moments before from an overseas trip needless to say jet lagged and not quite in formal business attire. Nevertheless, he graciously invited me into his office and discussed many serious subjects ending our conversation with light chit-chat.

I will sorely miss him as a special individual for his compassion, wisdom, and counsel as I’m sure so many others who knew him will.

To pay special tribute to this wonderful gentleman, I have taken the time to compile my own words among the many condolences and expressions of sympathy posted by many others on different forums in order to have as much as possible preserved as a lasting memorial. I have also included interviews made well before Mr. Blumlein’s untimely death.

I sincerely hope that this article will serve us as a reminder of the great industry veteran leader we had one time and who, unfortunately, is no more with us.

And, now, my best wishes to Richemont and their LMH division in finding a worthy successor to the late Gunter Blumlein.


Jack Freedman

Interview with Guenter Blumlein, head of LMH (IWC, JLC; Lange)

Base: TimeZone Forum - Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 23:02:10 GMT

From: Hans Zbinden <[email protected]>

Hello Forumners After last month’s interview with Michael Sarp, the new head of IWC, a talk with Guenther Bluemlein, the man who used to hold that same job and is now boss of LMH, the parent company of IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre and Lange. This article is from the Austrian magazine Uhren 2/97. As quite a few of you wrote me that they enjoyed the translation of the last interview, I’ll be including another, very special one done with Nicolas Hayek of SMH recently on my next News & Gossip page which should be updated in the coming weeks. For now, all I can say is that it will be very different ...

Regards Hans


Guenther Bluemlein (54) is the German head of LMH (Les Manufactures Horlogeres). He’s an engineer by profession specializing in fine mechanics and started his career in the watch-business as chief of quality control at Junghans.

In 1981, he was employed as a consultant by IWC, who at that time were in the pits, to say the least. The rest is modern watch-industry history ...

Some introducing information: LMH is held by VDO who again are hold by the giant multinational company Mannesmann. VDO are specialized in manufacturing instruments like speedometers and other measuring devices, especially for the automobile industry.

Uhren: Mr. Bluemlein, for a short time you’ve been residing in what’s probably the nicest and biggest office IWC have to offer. You have a great view over Schaffhausen but at the same time hardly have anything more to do with the brand.

Guenther Bluemlein: I wouldn’t formulate it that way. But you’re right. The operative business of IWC is now in the hands of others.

Uhren: Does that mean that the brand isn’t steered by remote-control by the prolific president Guenther Bluemlein ?

GB: No, not at all. I admit, that I’ll stay involved in product-design and -innovation and that I have a lot to say in regard to marketing and that I overview the complementary (meaning, all 3 brands make products that complement but don’t stand in competition with each other) direction of the houses. But basically, all three brands are run as individual profitcenters. By Swiss law, the board of each company is responsible for the results. But for the time being, I’ll be the third man in management at Lange and will be responsible for marketing. All in all, all three brands stand in complementary competition with each other.

Uhren: What advantages does Mannesmann expect from this constellation ?

GB: To understand the advantages and needs, you have to look back in history a bit. The “chronometric” activities of VDO, our direct mother firm, reach back far further than is generally known. 1978 was a crisis year for the automobile industry and VDO, who are an important furnisher for that industry, had the idea to use their know-how in the quartz-watch sector for the consumer market. A European watch-alliance was to be formed to be in a better position against the Japanese competition. That way, companies from Germany, France and Switzerland, amongst others, the badly hurting IWC and in form of a stock-majority, also Jaeger LeCoultre, landed under the roof of VDO. In 1980, I was appointed to coordinate this engagement.

Uhren: Did you at that time already have an promising recipes ?

GB: Not really, the healing of IWC and JLC was a real bare bones job. We had to break with fixated, Swiss traditions. In Schaffhausen and the the Vallee de Joux hold on to old values still ruled and flexibility wasn’t a strength of the industry. But in 1980, a new spirit - through the Porsche Design line - came to IWC. To that, the increased research in complicated watch-making was added which brought its first results with the introduction of the Da Vinci in 1985. Cutting off old traditions and turning away from the traditional solutions helped. The Da Vinci as a successful mixture of traditional watch-making and modern, engineer-type solutions for old problems. This was the only way we were able to offer it at a price that was more than once called “cannibalistic” by our competitors. But we really didn’t do anything else than cleanly calculate ourlist-prices.

Uhren: The rest of IWC’s success story is well known, but what happened at Jaeger LeCoultre at that time, they weren’t to that well either

GB: The grand old brand from the Vallee de Joux was for years operating on the virge of death. What I found in Le Sentier was a mixture of all possible things imaginable. They were making luxury products like pens and lighters for Christian Dior, they were making board- and measuring instruments, medical machinery, movements and traditionally of course, finished watches. The problem was, not a single department was profitable. So, first we had to get rid of the useless diversification products. Back to the roots of their original business was ordered. In1986, Monsieur Belmont came aboard as a technical director. In the same year, it became apparent that 12 million francs (then around 6 million US-$) were needed to survive. With that, the minority share-holders, a bank with 20 % and the family Ketterer of Vacheron-Constantin (25 %) couldn’t go along. In light of the difficult situation, VDO were happy to sell Audemars-Piguet a 40 % share in JLC. I reckon that was the best thing AP could do at that time. Just think of the enormous rise in value up until today.

Uhren: What part did you play in the fantastic reemergence of Jaeger LeCoultre ?

GB: In 1984, I took over the strategic and in 1986 the operative leadership of the manufacture. The incredible success of the Reverso and other models assured JLC one of the front-row seats in the small orchestra of top brands. The general manager, Mister Belmont, with whom I’ve been working together well in the last 10 years will lead the brand in to the next century. And there’s no doubt, that he can count on promising line of watches. Certainly, the new Reverso jewelry range will bring another boost. And, sportier lines will be introduced but I’d prefer not to discuss that at the moment.

Uhren: So, third in the round is probably your favorite pet, sitting in Glashutte. How did that happen ?

GB: This connection reaches back much further than to the German reunion. Walter and Ferdinand Lange were already looking for a possibility in the West to start a revival during the 60’s. They dreamed of manufacturing pocket-watches in the usual Lange style. They even had a Lange pocket-watch with a decorated and signed IWC calibre. But the dream didn’t last, there wasn’t a market for the watches they were imagining. But still, the idea was kept alive in their heads and after the fall of the wall it reawakened. Albert Keck, a manager at VDO and watchmaker was interested in the idea. So, in 1989, first contacts were made which were continued in Spring 1990. There were excellently trained people in Glasshutte and we could really use this potential when starting up production of our “Made in Germany” watches.

Uhren: Weren’t you interested in the Glashutte watch-manufacturing plant ?

GB: Yes, of course. We first had thought about a joint-venture, we were having intensive talks. But within the old structures, things didn’t go forward. And then the reunion on October 3, 1990 came to help. Suddenly, we didn’t need the Treuhand (sort of Chamber of Commerce in the GDR) anymore, Lange & Sohne could do it alone. At that time, I reckoned with a financial involvement of around 500’000 DM (300’000 US-$), we were baking small cakes back then.

Uhren: Quite a misinterpretation of the situation ...

GB: I admit ! But at that time, we were lacking the knowledge, how Lange & Sohne would make an impact in the lonely heights of the top segment of watch-making. When we were in, we quickly realized that we wouldn’t get around manufacturing our own calibres and the enormous development costs they require. When “Lange 2”, the new plant starts production next year, we’ll have invested about 30 million DM (18 million US-$) in Glasshutte - an amount that is well worth it for us and for the whole region. Our new catalog shows 10 different Lange watches including the new, revolutionary automatic with double-date, the rectangular Cabaret and the understated 1815 with power-reserve. That little indication at 8 o’clock needs around 100 additional parts and doesn’t make the 1815 calibre a millimeter thicker !

Uhren: How about Glasshutte Original, wouldn’t they fit well in to your portfolio ?

GB: At the moment, there’s absolutely no need to even lose a word about it. But who knows what kind of changes will confront the very lively watch-business

Uhren: Let’s talk about the market and the markets. How do you see the future of watchmaking ?

GB: In my view, it’s now the turn of the honest concepts with long-term planning. Honesty and believability are important prerequisites for a positive business, even in difficult times. The people who can afford expensive watches and want to will always have money. But the customers are getting more critical with time, and they’re also becoming more enlightened (thanks to Timezone). That’s why they’re looking for a healthy and somehow understandable price/performance ratio. The rip-off mentality you often find in newcomers is being seen-through more and more. A standard Lemania chonograph calibre in a 18 K gold case is fine with me. But when the whole thing costs 40’000 DM I have to ask myself ... Booming business in Asia shouldn’t close ones eyes for the European market. Short-term success in a strong-phase of the economy revenges itself as soon as the customers realize, that they somehow were pulled over the table (German expression for getting ripped off). Of course, every buyer of a watch is at the same time paying for taxes, margins and profits. But at the end of the day, you still have to have the positive feeling of haven gotten something of realistic and keeping value. (I have no doubt in my mind that above refers to Frank Muller)

Uhren: What’s in the future ?

GB: It’s no secret that the market for great complications is in a phase of saturation, useful innovations will be ahead in the future. But, a luxury watch can still be a useable watch. The big, easily readable wrist-watch will be successful on the market as will be the watch with a sporty touch. A masculine look is in demand but without being macho. And, the fine “banker’s watch” with small second-hand has a future. Apart from that, not in our group though, the overdone styling will still be around, many people need that. I can tell you, in my view they’re isn’t another field which produces so many hideous products as watch-making. Long live the small difference !

Uhren: What do you think about reissues ?

GB: Basically, I’m against reissues. First of all, they turn against the owners of the originals and somehow diminish their treasures, additionaly, they put a break on innovation. But I admit, it’s very difficult to come up with new things all the time in our field. Everything has been around at one time before. For some time now, retro models have been gaining in popularity. If they please, they’re bought. For that reason, we have to differentiate between authentic models that have a place in a brands history or if they’re from a newcomer who looked in old catalogs of traditional brands and copied them without shame.

Uhren: Do you see another crisis in the future of Swiss watch-making ?

GB: No. For example, I estimate the top-level, to which Lange belongs, manufactures 60’000-70’000 watches per year worth about 1.8 billion DM (1 billion US-$) at retail. The potential customers are there, so is money. And, the people are prepared to spend their money if they, as I’ve already said, get something of realistic value for it. That’s also a reason that it’s very important to me that all our products, regardless if from IWC, Jaeger or Lange, have the highest possible technical or design individuality. That’s what makes them desirable. “Me too” products can be manufactured by others. Something else the industry should take to heart: the word here is “self-control”. If the market is, for example, flooded with tourbillons and brands that never before produced complicated watches suddenly offer such models, that lessens their value, lessens their desirability. Suddenly, the merchandise remains heavy as lead in the shop-windows. Rarity and reduced availability increase the desire and stabilize the prices. There are enough examples.

Copyright by Uhren Austria 1997, All rights reserved

Raving comments about Mr. Blumlein from chairman Rupert of Richemont

Watches and Jewellery / Financial Times (London) ; March 24, 2001 - http://surveys.ft.com/wcj2001/

(a section of a lengthy and full report on Basel Fair 2001)

Last year’s big deal was the SFr3.08bn paid by the Richemont Group for three companies owned by Mannesmann - Jaeger-LeCoultre, International Watch Co, and 90 per cent of A. Lange & Sohne (of which Walter Lange, great-grandson of its founder, retains 10 per cent). Mannesmann was, of course, acquired by Vodafone.

Richemont is controlled by the family interests of South African Johann Rupert, and led by Alain-Dominique Perrin, executive director of Les Manufactures Horloge‘res. Meanwhile, Gucci and LVMH have also been adding to their stables of watch dial names, implementing cross-branding exercises, and taking fresh looks at distribution arrangements. The latter reflect perceptions that ownership of exclusive outlets is the coming trend, and that other retail points must be ever more carefully selected.

Mixing mechanics and marketing

When the history of the recent luxury watch boom comes to be written, Richemont’s SFrs3.2bn purchase last July of the three luxury watch companies in Les Manufactures Horologe‘res (LMH), will deserve a special mention.

Not only was the absolute sum paid a world record, but so was the valuation put on a group which manufactures fewer than 100,000 watches a year.

Richemont, controlled by South Africa’s wealthy Rupert family, made its money in the tobacco industry and has deeper pockets than most. Nevertheless, its willingness to pay around eight times estimated 2000 sales and 34 times estimated earnings - before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation - for LMH underlines the scale of the competition for the dwindling band of independent luxury watch brands.

The biggest name in the LMH stable is the 167-year-old Jaeger-LeCoultre. Its 900 craftsmen produced 48,000 watches and 3,300 table clocks in 1999. The second biggest is the International Watch Company, founded by Florentino Ariosto Jones, an American, more than a century ago. It sells 39,000 watches a year and its best known timepiece is the Da Vinci.

The smallest and most recent addition to the LMH collection is A Lange & Sohne. It can trace its roots back to 1845 when it was founded in Glashuttein Germany, and differs in that its watches are Made in Saxony, not Made in Switzerland. Its 180 staff produce just 22 watches per head a year.

Richemont, the world’s number two luxury goods company after France’s LVMH, already had its own collection of luxury watch brands led by Cartier.

“One of the main reasons for the fierce competition for LMH was the quality of its management,” says Richemont chief executive Johann Rupert.

Not many senior executives in the watch industry can match German-born Gunter Blumlein, 57, who has been running the Schaffhausen-based IWC for more than 20 years.

Philippe Stern of Patek Philippe and Cartier’s Franco Collogni have longer luxury watch industry pedigrees. But Mr Blumlein has been in the business longer than the likes of Swatch’s publicity conscious Nicolas Hayek, who the Swiss media call the Uhren-Konig.

Mr Blumlein started more than 30 years ago with Germany’s Junghans, which at the time was the world’s biggest producer of clocks and watches. But like many Swiss watchmakers, Junghans was badly hit by competition from Japanese mass-produced quartz watches.

Unlike Mr Hayek, who countered the Japanese invasion by launching the low-cost stylish Swatch, Mr Blumlein’s survival strategy was to concentrate on the renaissance of mechanical and technically sophisticated watches.

“To be a success in our industry you have to be able to handle the design and the engineering of movements,” says Mr Blumlein. “But you also have to be able to create emotion and get close to the end consumer. The ability to build a bridge between the two different skills is the great strength of Switzerland’s watch manufacturers.”

One of Mr Blumlein’s first ideas was to join forces in 1978 with Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, an Austrian member of the car making dynasty. His anti-magnetic watch design was the first of several new ideas for IWC. Co-operation flourished for over two decades until Mr Porsche bought his own watchmaker - Eterna.

Mr Blumlein also insisted IWC did not bow to the accountants and outsource its manufacturing. “It is important to have the ability to manufacture custom-made movements. If you pay a lot of money for a watch, you want the product to be different. Watch connoisseurs can tell.”

Nevertheless, Mr Blumlein’s engineering background has not suppressed his marketing skills. “This used to be an industry which concentrated on delivering top quality time pieces. Now it has become much more than that. It is also an industry of dreams.”

Mr Blumlein’s success in satisfying the dreams of the luxury watch buying public is reflected in LMH’s 19 per cent a year sales growth in recent years.

While an admirer of the marketing success of such giant watch brands as Rolex, he also sees a role for much smaller and exclusive brands. He does not subscribe to the idea that there are huge economies at the top end of the luxury watch market.

“A customer at the top end of the market does not want to buy a ‘group’ watch. He is interested in a Breguet, a Cartier, or a Jaeger LeCoultre. You are buying an idea, an emotion, a tradition.”

Mr Blumlein has equally forthright views on the scale of the threat from electronic commerce. “In our world of watches selling over the internet is excluded. We have a strong partnership with the best retailers in the world. They are our ambassadors. They show off our products.

“You cannot compete against your own customers by selling directly over the internet. It will not work. People want to see and touch our watches.”


Another very interesting interview with Mr. Gunter Blumlein appears on Peter Chong’s website.

Interview with Gunter Blumlein

Terrible News: Günter Blümlein Died

TimeZone / Public Forum

Posted By: MF <[email protected]> (proxy1-external.wkgn1.il.home.com) Date: 10/1/01 07:13

I am very sorry to report here that Günter Blumlein has passed away this weekend.

Mr. Blümlein had been one of the most influential persons in the Swiss watch industry. Originally the head of IWC, he became the head of LMH, the Mannesman holding company that owned IWC, Lange and part of Jaeger Le Coultre. When LMH was sold to Richemont, he was responsbile for those companies and others within the Richemont Group.

IWC has stated:

It is with deep sorrow that we must bid farewell to GÜNTER BLÜMLEIN

Chairman of the Board of Directors of IWC Co. Ltd., Schaffhausen.

He died of a serious illness, borne with great dignity and fortitude, in his 58th year.

Günter Blümlein was a true leader in every sense of the word and set the standards for a managerial style that mixed entrepreneurial values with a strong sense of humanity. We at IWC are strongly committed to maintaining his example of economic success based on the highest ethical principles.

One of the watchmaking industry’s most outstanding personalities is no more. We are deeply grieved and pledge to do our utmost to continue his life’s work as he would have wished.

With sadness,

Michael Friedberg

My deepest sympathy to his family ...

Posted By: Jack Freedman <[email protected]> (acadfb98.ipt.aol.com) Date: 10/1/01 07:30 In Response To: Terrible News: Günter Blümlein Died (MF)

... and all employees at IWC, JLC, and LANGE.

I always found Mr. Blumlein a well informed and understanding person who cared about individuals. It was indeed a privilege to be in his company and whenever so I felt he sincerely listened carefully to the concerns of his visitor.

I know I will miss him much.

With sorrow,

Jack Freedman

A very sad loss and an enormous legacy

Posted By: Hans Zbinden <[email protected]> (fw3ext.siemens-sbs.ch) Date: 10/1/01 08:57 In Response To: Terrible News: Günter Blümlein Died (MF)

Hello Forumners

Gunther Blumlein was one of the most important personalities involved in the resurruction of the Swiss watch industry. The way the then floored IWC and JLC were brought back to life under his leadership and of course, his vision to bring back the craft to Eastern Germany, are all most important milestones of current watchmaking history.

I am lucky to have met Mr. Blumlein at dinner Lange & Sohne hosted at the Basel Fair 2000. After our meal, he sat down at our table and insisted we all join him for cigars and a brandy. He was wearing a Datograph and although I was slightly intimidated by his overwhelming presence, I brought up the courage to ask him to see it. From WIS to WIS, such a request is not unusual and he unstrapped and passed over the watch without hesitating and let us play with it for the rest of the evening. I’m glad to have such a nice memory of the man.



My deepest condolescences! This is an incredible lost (more)

Posted By: Magnus Bosse <[email protected]> ( Date: 10/1/1 - 08:45:13 In Response To: Terrible news: Günter Blümlein has died (MF)

for the wachmaking/-admiring world! Mr. Blümlein was one of the today’s most important and pacemaking personalities and has done much efforts for the resurrection of the mechanical watch.

I believe that the high price Richemont paid for the former LVMH group was to a large extend a tribute to Mr. Blümlein’s outstanding work.

It is time to say ‘thank you’ that we had such a person in the horological industry.

My deepest condolescenes to his family, his friends and co-workers at IWC. Lest keep his remembrance!

Magnus Bosse

Memorial Service in Schaffhausen on Friday...

Posted By: Peter Chong (sbproxy3.mystarhub.com.sg) Date: 10/1/01 10:25 In Response To: Terrible News: Günter Blümlein Died (MF)

I was saddened when Dr. Frank Muller and the local Lange Authorized Dealer called me earlier today to inform me of the news.

Mr Blümlein is an icon in the modern watchmaking industry. This loss is not only a great loss for Lange Uhren, LMH and Richemont, but for the entire watchmaking industry and the wold at large.

My prayers are with him and his family.

I will be attending the memorial service in Schaffhausen this Friday as a representative of collectors worldwide. If there is anything you would like for me to do/say on your behalf, please let me know.

Great Loss

IWC Forum / Switzerland

Posted by Ralph Ehrismann on 01.10.01 at 17:48:06

A tragedy for his family, IWC and everyone who wears an IWC or an other watch if the Richmond Group.

We all can only thank for all he has done for us!

He had a spirit and a vision what time is and how to represent it with a watch.

He stronlgy influenced the development of some watch companys make for us pieces of time.

We will keep him in mind all the time which is given to us.


A few words in memoriam

IWC Forum / Switzerland

Posted by MF on 01.10.01 at 16:31:56

Dear Franco and all,

Normally this Forum reports on good news, but this time I have sad news to report. I had waited to see if a word would be posted directly by Schaffhausen.

Over the weekend, Günter Blumlein has passed away. Mr. Blümlein had been one of the most influential persons in the Swiss watch industry. Originally the head of IWC, he became the head of LMH, the Mannesman holding company that owned IWC, Lange and part of Jaeger Le Coultre. When LMH was sold to Richemont, he was responsbile for those companies and others within the Richemont Group.

This is a tragedy for everyone involved. His loss will be felt by his family—not only his personal family and his IWC family, but the world.

IWC has stated:

It is with deep sorrow that we must bid farewell to GÜNTER BLÜMLEIN

Chairman of the Board of Directors of IWC Co. Ltd., Schaffhausen.

He died of a serious illness, borne with great dignity and fortitude, in his 58th year.

Günter Blümlein was a true leader in every sense of the word and set the standards for a managerial style that mixed entrepreneurial values with a strong sense of humanity. We at IWC are strongly committed to maintaining his example of economic success based on the highest ethical principles.

One of the watchmaking industry’s most outstanding personalities is no more. We are deeply grieved and pledge to do our utmost to continue his life’s work as he would have wished.

On a person note, I was fortunate to have met Mr. Blümlein several times. I once asked him about his feelings about bringing back to life the great German watchmaking tradition with his leadership at Lange. He said, with the modesty only afforded a successful man, that he viewed his role as a “scratching on the wall of history”.

The last time I saw him was at this years’ Basel fair and I told him about this Forum. A few weeks later I learned of his illness.

My extreme sympathy to Mr. Blümlein ‘s family.

Regards, Michael

(Michael Friedberg)

My sincerest condolences to his family, friends and ...

TimeZone / IWC Forum

Posted By: Eugenio Demmenie aka Amadeus Gould (1cust91.tnt35.rtm1.nl.uu.net) Date: 10/1/1 - 14:01:14 In Response To: Terrible news: Günter Blümlein has died (MF)

colleagues at IWC, Jaeger-leCoultre, Lange and Richemont group.

I am saddened by the passing of Mr. Blumlein.

I met Mr. Blumlein personally during a Lange group dinner for which I was invited. Mr. Blumlein had a great passion for watches which he combined with great leadership and a great sense for creating/launching watches that make an impact, weither it was a new IWC, Jaeger or Lange. But more importantly, he was a very nice person, very open, friendly. He will be sadly missed.

My thoughts are with his family and friends.

Eugenio Demmenie

Mr Blunlein will long be remembered for his.....

Posted By: Marvin Arnold <[email protected]> (adsl-63-196-117-220.dsl.frsn01.pacbell.net) Date: 10/1/1 - 16:46:15 In Response To: Terrible news: Günter Blümlein has died (MF)

great achievements for the watch industry. His career was one of fine accomplishments with dignity, always.

Marvin Arnold

Given Mr. Blümlein’s tragic death, what will happen to the LMH co’s.?

TimeZone / Insights

Posted By: Stieglitz (proxy2-external.wkgn1.il.home.com) Date: 10/6/1 - 18:21:36

I hesitate to raise this question, especially now, but I think it raises issues that have to be considered.

Richemont’s acquisition of the LMH companies –Lange, IWC and JLC— raised a number of issues in 2000. In some ways, these companies were and are very different than the Richemont stable, lead by Cartier, with Panerai as a rising star and Vacheron added. There were differences in product, distribution and philosophy. There even were differences in management, both in quantity and style.

In some ways, the differences were complimentary: LMH’s strengths filled needed gaps within Richemont and Richemont offered strengths to LMH. Yet there were also concerns in some quarters that Richemont would change the essential qualities that made LMH and its products special.

However, there were rumors that one person –a legend in the watch industry— Günter Blümlein would prevent that. He reportedly was able to tell Johann Rupert of Richemont “let me run my companies”. I don’t know if that is true, but given his track record it is plausible.

Nevertheless, there reportedly was a great deal of political jockeying after the acquisition. It was rumored that Blümlein may have “won” –at least he would head up the major “horological” companies in the Richemont Group, including not only JLC, IWC and Lange, but now also Vacheron and Panerai. There were reports about “politics” and executive suite deals. What follows are excerpts from Richemont’s March 2001 Press Release:

Johann Rupert, currently Chairman and Chief Executive of Richemont SA, will remain as Executive Chairman of the Management Board, while continuing as Chief Executive at the holding company level. Alain Dominique Perrin becomes Chief Executive of Richemont SA. Jan du Plessis, Finance Director, will continue to report directly to Mr Rupert.

Richard Lepeu, currently Chief Executive of Cartier, becomes Chief Operating Officer of Richemont. ..Guy Leymarie, currently Chief Executive of Alfred Dunhill, succeeds Mr Lepeu to become Chief Executive of Cartier.

Günter Blümlein, previously Chief Executive of LMH, becomes Chief Executive of Richemont’s new specialist Watch Division with responsibility for Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, A.Lange & Söhne and Officine Panerai.

Recognising the need to coordinate the strategic development of these respective brands, Franco Cologni becomes Executive Chairman of both Cartier and the newly formed Watch Division.

My question then is simple: given Mr. Blümlein’s tragic death a week ago, what will happen to “his” former companies, Lange, IWC and Jaeger LeCoultre?

A very appropriate question

Posted By: Hans Zbinden <[email protected]> (pop-be-5-2-dialup-195.freesurf.ch) Date: 10/7/1 - 03:36:36 In Response To: Given Mr. Blümlein’s tragic death, what will happen to the LMH co’s.? (Stieglitz)


I’ve been wondering the same thing and didn’t come up with an answer yet, I believe the coming year will show the direction the companies will take. All three of them have been very successful in recent years, have grown steadily and basically sold everything they produced. So it would only seem logical that nothing is changed. Gunther Blumlein was unique because he wasn’t only a very capable manager but also loved the products he was creating, he’ll be very hard to replace.

On the other hand, Richemont paid an incredible amount of money for LMH. The worst thing that could happen is that they would try to force the increase of profits by comprising quality or introducing new lines that have nothing to do with the companies original product (like Must de Cartier). I really don’t foresee this though but under the circumstances of the current world affairs, it’s impossible to predict what strategies luxury goods manufacturers will chose.




Posted By: Watchbore <[email protected]> (ip124.zurich117.pub-ip.ch.psi.net) Date: 10/7/1 - 10:29:03 In Response To: A very appropriate question (Hans Zbinden)

that nice Mr Henry-John Belmont of JLC will assume the mantle?


Good call

Posted By: Kevin in London <[email protected]> (host217-35-213-201.webport-cl5-hg1.sheffield.mdip.bt.net) Date: 10/7/1 - 12:46:38 In Response To: Perhaps... (Watchbore)

H-J Belmont has done an excellent job at Jaeger-LeCoultre. I can remember when Jaeger was a non-descript company, producing everything from pens to lighters (and not very good ones at that). Mr Belmont has done tremendously well to make Jaeger what it is today - he does have the right stuff for the top job. If he does get it, I’m sure he’ll continue down the path that Mr Blumlein started.

I hope you’re right on this one Watchbore.

Regards Kevin

Wish I could I agree

Posted By: Anon. (web25.iuinc.com) Date: 10/7/1 - 13:46:50 In Response To: Good call (Kevin in London)

First off, Cologni will have him for breakfast.

Second, I respectfully suggest that you might personally be confusing your admiration of the product with a lack of knowledge of the business results. Rumours have it that Jaeger LeCoultre is doing just okay. Its Master Control models are reportedly not selling well and the company’s profitability allegedly is marginal. Although this might not be a reflection upon Mr. Belmont, its sales in several markets are reportedly declining and over the past few years it has been outperformed in terms of growth and profitablity by the other two LMH companies.

Don’t misunderstand me: I like Jaeger Le Coultre products, but I suspect your conclusion reflects a lack of knowledge of who Cologni is and the internal business numbers. I also hear Mr. Belmont is a nice guy.

I apologise for the need for anonymity on this post, but consider the possibility that the substance may be correct.

Re: Wish I could I agree

Posted By: Kevin in London <[email protected]> (host217-35-232-120.webport-cl5-hg5.sheffield.mdip.bt.net) Date: 10/7/1 - 15:38:01 In Response To: Wish I could I agree (Anon.)

You could be right; I don’t know how JLC has performed. But are the rumours you mentioned reliable?

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not arguing, and what you say could well be true. I had however, heard that JLC was cutting back on the supply of its ebauches to other brands (even IWC, its sister company) because internal demand had grown considerably. If this is true, then presumably the increased internal demand is due to an increased demand for its watches (specifically, the Master series)?

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. Incidentally, I met Mr Belmont very briefly at Basel and he does indeed come across as a nice guy. Perhaps too nice? Who knows?



Power struggle

Posted By: Watchbore <[email protected]> (ip38.zurich117.pub-ip.ch.psi.net) Date: 10/8/1 - 08:14:36 In Response To: Re: Wish I could I agree (Kevin in London)

Cologni is from a different brand culture: control of communications, contempt for consumers. It might work for Panerai and Cartier, but the JLC, IWC, Lange customer is perhaps a little more sophisticated.But Johann Rupert who ultimately calls the shots, prefers to be surrounded by older advisors.


Frank Muller the Managing Director of Lange would be a (more)

Posted By: alex ( Date: 10/8/1 - 11:46:31 In Response To: Given Mr. Blümlein’s tragic death, what will happen to the LMH co’s.? (Stieglitz)

great choice.

IWC and JLC being the top of the medium range brands already have high amounts of production and sale. They also have “reasonably” priced watches that remain accessible, their marketing is working and their brand image is set.

However Lange is another story and the slightest managerial decision that can bring the customers or potential customers to think that Lange is no longer the “creme de la creme” would be a terrible blow to Lange.

IWC, JLC and even more Lange should not only be run by business men but by aficionados who love the product that’s why a person comming directly from one of these 3 brands and not from Vendome would seem the best choice IMHO.

Tribute and memorial to Blumlein

TimeZone / Lange Forum

Posted By: Bernard <[email protected]> ( Date: 10/1/1 - 19:47:47

I hope those who have met Mr Blumlein would take some time to share on this forum a tribute and some memories for this good man.

I wish to start first by saying that although I have but met him on several occasions and I do not know him well, he made an impression on me. He was a humble person, and did not let color or money or class affect his dealings with others. These were my impressions, and I am a chinese doctor in singapore....a general practioner who works in the poorer parts....I see a great landscape of human emotions and feelings each day in my job, I meet and talk to over 100 patients each day,5 days a week.I don’t look rich or influential.

I first met Mr Blumlein in 1997 at a society event in his honour, and I remember he was wearing these absolutely tired looking brown loafers with an immaculate grey suit.He had as usual, impeccable hair, neat to the last follicle, but the shoes....ah. He asked me if I was Peter Chong....no I was not, he had not met you yet Peter. He said to me that if I were to meet Peter, tell him that he was very happy about the response on the internet to Lange.

Several years later, I met him again in Dresden...and after having dinner with him which he paid for...he actually walked us back to our hotel...more than 3 km away thru some back alleys and all. Hey, I am not some rich guy...I am just a fellow that likes watches..my mother is a nurse and my dad is a school teacher. Well it could have been some rich guys among our group...but no...I think Mr Blumlein was a good man...he was just naturally hospitable.

I remember being absolutely blown by the fact that he knew where every tool, screwdriver and loupe was kept in the Lange factory. I watched the man deftly open a drawer and remove a tool to pick up a bridge. I remember the way he operated those laser measuring machines, the assured way he swithced on the spark cutting machine. Great scott....this was the CEO of the company! This was hands on! He was bringing us on a walk thru Lange in July 1999. He was like a nurse in a trauma clinic, he knew every inch, every tool and every body that worked there. He even told me that the girl who normally does the engraving for the cock was pregnant, and they have let her bring the metal pieces home to work. I mean how many CEOs know their factories and staff that well?

I also remember the time he asked my wife to remove a stainless steel Franck Muller chronograph from her wrist and let him have a look at it....at a dinner table, so now I know this can be done in good taste, and he looked at it intently for a long time....and he said that he liked it, in a believable way and then explained why he admired it for certain traits. I wondered why he did not ask me then about the arkade....but the next day he spoke much about the arkade. I bought an arkade for my wife a year later.

I remember giving him a dreadful oil painting of a saxonia and said it was a piece of chinese Bauhaus, he laughed for some time and actually posed for some photos with it, it was embarrassing.

I salute you Mr Blumlein and bid you farewell. As a person, I have learned from you...in such brief meetings, it is a measure of your stature and character. Farewell.

Very, very touching, and wholly consistent

Posted By: ThomasM <[email protected]> (ac9406a8.ipt.aol.com) Date: 10/1/1 - 21:05:08 In Response To: Tribute and memorial to Blumlein (Bernard)

with my own experiences.

It is rare for a man with as much recent success as he to have managed to keep both feet firmly planted on the earth.

That he was gracious and cordial, even knowing that he was gravely ill at the time, is the ultimate testimony to his character and style.

Under his leadership, I was comfortable that VC and Lange could co-exist, one regaining its rightful place in the watch firmament, the other ascending to that same throne.

May the foundation you so ably laid continue to grow and prosper, to do justice to your memory.

My deepest respects to you, Herr Blumlein, and may you rest in peace.

Thomas Mao

He was responsible for the existence and appearance of the Lange 1

Posted By: dermawan <[email protected]> ( Date: 10/1/1 - 21:32:36 In Response To: Tribute and memorial to Blumlein (Bernard)

Blumlein was the decisive factor in the appearance of the face and dial of the Lange 1.As well as the ressurection of the company.

His passing will be like a landmark for Lange owners in this timeline.

Eloquent homage...

Posted By: Peter Chong ( Date: 10/1/1 - 21:35:49 In Response To: Tribute and memorial to Blumlein (Bernard)

I am lost to add any, except Amen, and to add my condolences.

As mentioned in the post below, I will be in Schaffhausen this Friday to attend the memorial service. Please send me an email if you wish me to deliver a message to the family and/or the company.

Peter..we must petition....

Posted By: dermawan <[email protected]> ( Date: 10/1/1 - 21:56:17 In Response To: Tribute and memorial to Blumlein (Bernard)

The Lange company to include a chapter on the actual process of building up Post War Lange in 1990 and the figures behind it...Blumlein, Reinhard Meis and Walther Lange.

Ut should explain how the initial Lange watches were made...Lange 1, saxonia and arkade...and how Blumlein et al resuurected the company.

This chapter should be in the Lange catalogue, or the newer Lange enthusiasts will forget the contributions of Blumlein....this thought is actually quite upsetting.


Posted By: Richie <[email protected]> ( Date: 10/5/1 - 22:07:54 In Response To: Peter..we must petition.... (dermawan)


Deep condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Blumlien. I have known that he was ill, yet am still shocked by this news.

I have never met him, yet have followed his career peripherally. Yet, per this post, I would be most interested if the details of the Lange re-birth, along with roles of the people who made it happen, could be documented.

Kind regards,


Thank you, Bernard. As one who

Posted By: SteveG <[email protected]> (dhcp065-024-252-021.insight.rr.com) Date: 10/2/1 - 05:06:35 In Response To: Tribute and memorial to Blumlein (Bernard)

who could not have known him, I appreciate your taking the time to provide some personal reflections of this evidently accomplished and compassionate gentleman.

Over the past year or so I have bought several Frey-era Minervas, largely because the people behind the watches were so interesting, dedicated and personable; it is gratifying to now consider that my 2 Langes were also crafted by a company whose management has great substance beyond the concern for turning a profit.

Thank you for your eloquent testimonial.


Steve Gurevitz


“Your heart was warm and happy

With the lilt of Irish laughter

Every day and in every way

Now forever and ever after."
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Post by Darksider » October 28th 2016, 4:16pm

Recommended Reading A Tribute To A Forgotten Giant Of Watchmaking Who Helped Shape The Modern Watch World

Saturday October 08, 2016

Despite the fact that the watch industry loves to beat the drum of tradition, the fact is that it can have a shockingly short collective memory when it comes to anything that doesn't grab the attention of customers and help sell watches. Unfortunately this means that an awful lot of important companies, watches, and people get swept under the rug. It also means that customers often form views about watches and brands that lack grounding in actual – as opposed to brand-curated – history. Today we've found a must-read story about one such person, who all real watch lovers should know and remember.

Günter Blümlein passed away fifteen years ago today, and our friend Peter Chong – the internationally known Lange collector and historian (among other things) – has put together a biography of this remarkable individual. It's not too much to say that without Blümlein, modern watchmaking would look very different.

https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/tribu ... ign=buffer


Quotes from the fake naval aviator misterjingles. Not a pilot, or 9/11 survivor.
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