The Saxon family business Mühle-Glashütte is looking back on an eventful year 2016. The slump in international watch sales left its mark on Glashütte, however, since August, turnover has been rising again and despite difficult conditions on the international markets, Mühle-Glashütte could grow further thanks to an investment in its online presence, advertising and an expansion of its manufacturing operation.
Summarising his views on 2016, and looking forward to the new year, Mühle-Glashütte CEO Thilo Mühle suggests that the worst is over and the signs are good for 2017.
Q: How would you summarize the year 2016 for Mühle-Glashütte?
Mr Mühle: The fourth quarter of 2015 suffered a fall that essentially affected the entire industry and all markets. In all the past years, I have never witnessed a similar situation. Actually, as of yet nobody has been able to find a comprehensible explanation for the fall. Especially our new models helped us to tide over the industry-wide leaner summer months.
Since August, sales turnover has been nicely increasing again worldwide. This way, we will conclude 2016 with a plus once more. We have benefited from our clients being very well informed, they prefer products with a good price-quality ratio.
Q: What were significant developments at Mühle-Glashütte last year?
Mr Mühle: Crucial was the presentation of the new brand image. With our new claim, new homepage and new advertisements, we position ourselves even more strongly as a brand from Glashütte, operating in the field of mechanical sports watches, purposefully refining our profile. Both with our presentation of the ProMare watch family and our new campaign – Enjoy being different – we have given Mühle-Glashütte an additional course.
Apart from that, the manufacture line “R. Mühle & Sohn” means a lot to us. The line is our indicator for our vertical range of manufacture and our constructive competency. You can see it clearly in the Robert Mühle Zeigerdatum that was introduced this year: From the design of the movement and its complications to the manufacturing of a large part of the parts used to assembly, everything happens in-house. For me, every timepiece of this line that is completed certifies that we invested time, knowledge and money in the right place in the last years.
Q: Which newly introduced model in 2016 is especially close to your heart?
Mr Mühle: It is the ProMare Chronograph for me. The watch is a logical step when you consider our brand’s DNA. Because with our nautical wristwatches, we have been producing mechanical timepieces for a long time that are meant for sporty endeavors. They adhere to our nautical virtues, are especially robust, precise, and have optimal readability – features that make an outdoor watch.
The ProMare Chronograph combines these characteristics and at the same time the watch is intended as a sporty mechanical watch by its design and coloring – a piece that can be worn at all times and everywhere. A watch for people like me: People that sit in their office during the day and get on their mountain bike after hours or go running.
Consequently, it is a personally very significant watch for me, if I am being honest.
Q: As a family-run company you look back on a long tradition. How does Mühle-Glashütte position itself to meet the challenges of the future?
Mr Mühle: With the new campaign we took a new path that we will consistently follow in 2017. This pertains to our brand presentation as well as for upcoming novelty models. In this respect, we also want to focus more on the manufacture line “R. Mühle and Sohn” – next to developing new models for the nautical and functional collections. Financially, the principle remains: investments are made with care and in the long term to achieve moderate, yet therefore an even more stable growth. It will also be important that we further optimize our distribution potential and expand on our partnerships with retail and wholesale.
Q: Could you give us a hint about the product novelties we can expect next year?
Without being too concrete, I can let slip that we will remain sporty and elegant in the future. This development will also be evident by the presentation of the new models in Basel.
Q: Which resolutions do you personally have for the year 2017?
Mr Mühle: Next year I would like to do more sports again and take greater care with my health – simply enjoy the time that I have more consciously. My wish for Mühle-Glashütte is that we can continue our sustainable company and growth philosophy and that our new models that we will present at Baselworld in March will appeal to our clients as much as they do to me.
Q: As always, the big jewellery and watches trade fairs are going to take place in 2017. Where will it be possible to strike up a conversation with Thilo Mühle?
Mr Mühle: In 2017, we will definitely have an exhibition at Baselworld. Additionally, we will be at the Munichtime again in November. Naturally, I am also looking forward to lively exchange, just as in the past years. I am excited to see the developments during the upcoming year.
Matthias von Carlsburg