When I started in this hobby I still thought of Hamilton as the "American brand" and was disappointed, especially as a Pennsylvanian, to find how they gravitated away from manufacturing in Lancaster through the 1960's to be finally purchased and incorporated into the Swatch group. Of course, that is still more desirable than what happened to fine old company names like Gruen, purchased by faceless marketing conglomerates to sell the "name" on cheap quartz watches made who knows where. At least Hamilton is still associated with quality watches, albeit not at the same level they were at during the 1950's when a Hamilton was the pinnacle of American watchmaking.
Yes, I know Bulova fans will take issue with the last statement. I admire Bulova for keeping Accutron manufacturing in the US through the 1960's. But now Bulova has been absorbed too, by Citizen. At least they will continue to be associated with good quality automatic watches.
Companies like Elgin, once a high quality watchmaker, have disappeared into the faceless world of marketing conglomerates.
One thing to remember, prior to the 1960's American watchmakers were considered the best in the world. With a few exceptions like Rolex, Omega, Heuer and some others, Swiss didn't always mean quality. There were an awful lot of 1 jewel pin-lever watches manufactured through the 60's and 70's with the now coveted "Swiss" or "Swiss Made" on the dial.
As always, the moderators expect posters to adhere to the WatchUSeek rules, especially rule number 2. There is no need for personal attacks. Remember, we are talking about watches, an enjoyable hobby to be sure, but not a topic with earth shattering implications.
Good thread. Interesting info.
I have heard that Eyal Lalo is a descendant of the Picard family line on his maternal side. So, while he does not have the Picard name the claims to family ties with Invicta appear to be factual. I dont have any documentation so you can take that for what it is worth.
I also have heard banter about Sector and Invicta. The version I heard was that Lalo purchased the N and S American rights to Invicta initially. From whom he purchased these rights, I do not know. I guess it would of been from Invicta SA in EU at the time. Eyal mentioned many times about Invicta watches not being available in Eu due to marketing issues.
There were Invicta watches that were offered in the late 90's which were produced under the Sector group. They had slightly different Invicta logo and as such were not products of Lalo. I believe the Sector connection with Opera is factual as was the EU Invicta company which was also absorbed into Opera as a part of the Sector group.
Eyal stated back between 2002-2005, not sure when, that his Invicta did purchase the marketing and naming rights for Invicta in EU and perhaps even worldwide. I assume but have no proof that these naming rights were purchased from the Sector/Opera group.
As far as the operation of Eyal and his financing. I doubt Opera has much to do with that. I believe it may be Far East interests which may be his financiers. Seems to be where money is coming from these days for a lot of business operations and certainly nothing nefarious in that if it is the case.
Last edited by Dragoon; March 24th, 2011 at 18:12.
My apologies, I tend to open my mouth (or type in this case) before thoroughly reading and comprehending what I read. Carry on gentlemen!
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This was one of the most information laden threads I have seen in a while.
This is all making my head spin
Let's see if I've got this straight....
The original Invicta company passed out of the hands of the Piccard family probably some time in the 1970s and got handed around various Swiss interests during the 'Quartz Crisis' years. Eventually it faded away completely. Swatch acquired rights to the name. (when?)
Meanwhile in the 1970s(?), the Swiss owners of the Invicta name struck a deal with a South American group to distribute Invicta over there. At some point this group acquired regional rights to the name and continued using the Invicta branding on their products even during the time that Swiss Invicta was 'dead' (this is implied in the June 2000 Timezone interview with Eyal Lalo). Sector bought the owners of Invicta, and then leased the naming rights to the Invicta Watch Group (IWG), Florida, from 1991.
In 2001 the IWG bought the name, however this was still only valid for the Americas. Later, IWG bought the European rights from the Swatch Group, bringing the Invicta name once again under a single ownership, however this ownership is American, not Swiss. And this presumably is the reason why Invicta is not a member of the Swiss Horological Federation (FHS).
How did I score?
Moderator, Russian Watches & Chinese Mechanical Watches Forums
(no, I am not going to list all my watches here)
Europa Star - Features: Italy holds its breath From 2004
With its brand name sports watches and a market share in Italy of about 14%, Sector Group has a network of 15 production partners around the world, six commercial offices, and 50 distributors. It controls the brands Sector, Philip Watch, Invicta, MoDe, Chronostar and has acquired the licenses for Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli, Pzero Tempo (Pirelli), Moschino, Valentino, Sisley, United Colors of Benetton, Mariella Burani and Xenia (for jewellery). Sector Group manages, in-house, the styling and design of its watches that are produced by an outside contractor, either in Italy (gold watches with wide bracelets), or abroad (mainly in Switzerland, but also in Japan and China).
The group’s activity began with the Sector brand, which in the 1980s conquered a large share of the Italian watch market. During the same period, the Group revitalized the Philip Watch brand. At the beginning of the 1990s, Sector Group began a strategy of diversification, by creating the brands Chronostar, MoDe and Invicta.
I believe Sector aquired the rights to Invicta in 1991, buying it from the last of the Piccard family and ONDIX S.A. which had purchased the name in 86 or so and dissolved it in 91. Sector stopped claiming Invicta in 2002 or 2003 which is when the the Bulgari Group/Opera Funding purchased Sector. Eyal Lalo in that 2000 TZ interview stated he was 27 or so in 2000 and his family had been involved with the brand during the 70s which does strike me as a bit odd but that is niether here nor there. EL was marketing the brand in South America and I believe Sector struck a deal to end their active involvement with Invicta, either selling off the brand to the American based IWG or Bulgari Group/Opera Funding which may have started/funded IWG. That last portion is pure speculation on my part. I am still researching it as well as other zombie brands brought back to life.
Invicta is not a member of the Swiss Federation by choice. In a post last year Eyal stated several justifications of the reason why Invicta did not adhere to the Swiss rules which he chose not to discuss but than stated it was unfair that smaller companies should be compelled to adhere to these rules. That post is on my forum portal. I will not provide a link to it out of courtesy to this forum. I do know for a fact, through mails between myself and Yves Bugmann of the legal office of the Swiss Federation, that this is an issue that does not set well with them. But Invicta is not the only company doing this and this may be why the rules may change to 81% rather than 50% for the coveted SWISS designation.
This has been a very good conversation without drama as it should be. Thanks guys. All watch companies should have their histories presented so we can learn more about them, their place in Horology and increase our own knowledge.
Last edited by koimaster; March 25th, 2011 at 10:15.
Thank you everyone for the a tremendous amount of valuable information!!