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A Closer Look At: Ebel

by Jonathan Fairfield
13 December, 2012
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About the author

Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

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The A Closer Look At series explores second tier Swiss watch brands that for whatever reason might not always enjoy their fair share of the limelight. This week’s article focuses on luxury watch brand Ebel.

Formed in 1911 by the husband and wife team of Eugene Blum and Alice Levy, the brand originates from the historic home of the Swiss watch-making industry, La Chaux-de-Fonds. The brand takes its name from Eugene Blum et Levy –Ebel

In the early days, Ebel built up quite a reputation for its high standards of watch production to such an extent that other watch brands would order timepieces from Ebel and then resell them using their own names.

By the 1930’s orders from Vacheron Constantin and other luxury watch brands were common place and not only helped to raise awareness of the Ebel brand but also became an integral part of its overall business viability. Ebel also made a number of watches that were sold under the Paul Breguette name and aimed at solely the American market.

However, it wasn’t until 1971 when the Ebel brand really shot to fame, thanks in no small part to Pierre-Alain Blum, grandson of Alice and Eugene, who decided to reinvent the brands identity that featured the tagline ‘The Architects of Time’.

The slogan made reference to the brands links within the world of design and architecture, having previously sponsored the works of famous architects including Le Corbusier and Andree Putman.

Where Blum took the brand next was nothing short of brilliant and helped to turn the 1970’s into the brands most profitable decade. This was quite an achievement as many other watch makers were struggling to survive during this time, partly due to the impact of the Quartz crisis.

In 1975 Ebel won a contract that would see them produce a staggering 300,000 watches for luxury brand Cartier. During this time Blum was also eager to maintain the brands independence and in doing so he created the Sport Classic collection, which would go onto to be one of the brand’s most popular series.

Featuring a ‘wave’ bracelet the Ebel Sport Classic range made the brand more appealing to a younger, more fashion conscious client base. Other popular new collections followed including the Sport Wave, Beluga and E-Type.

In 1994, Ebel was sold to InvestCorp and by 1996 Pierre-Alain Blum had left the company. Between 1999 and 2003 it was part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey group (LMVH) but was sold to the American watchmakers Movado in 2004.

Today, Ebel is still under the leadership of the Movado Group and has since undergone a number of re-launches of some of its classic timepieces.

Ebel Sports Classic

 

Launched in 1977, the Ebel Sports Classic featured a monocoque case, an integrated wave bracelet and bezel held into place by 5 screws. The success of this particular watch shouldn’t be underestimated.

Not only was it stylish and had a distinctive look but it was also excellently marketed by Pierre-Alain Blum as the Ebel brand started to sponsor some of the world’s leading sporting events such as the Davis Cup tennis tournament and the European Masters Golf Tournament.

Ebel also got some of the most famous sports stars of the time to advertise their timepieces including F1 drives Nikki Lauda and Alain Prost, tennis stars Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Yannick Noah and Stefan Edberg, as well as famous actors such as Harrison Ford and Dennis Hopper. Even Madonna endorsed Ebel watches in the 1980’s!

In 1982, Ebel added a Chronograph version to its Sport Classic collection. The watch featured the Ebel 134 calibre movement that had a frequency of 36,000 vph. The design of the Chronograph version was very much kept in line with the existing collection, also featuring the now trademark wave bracelet.

The Chronograph also benefited hugely from celebrity endorsements and was very much seen as the must have watch of the time. Worn by Don Johnson, who played Sonny Crockett in the hit US TV show Miami Vice, the watch made more than its fair share of on-screen appearances. In fact, when the third series of Miami Vice aired in September 1986, Ebel announced that it would be sponsoring the whole cast!

 

Ebel Classic Hexagon

In 2008 Ebel released updated versions of its Classic collection, featuring its trademark hexagonal shaped steel case. The 41mm timepiece also accommodates a large date display, positioned just under 12 o’clock and also a power reserve indicator that has been embellished with a Clous de Paris pattern; all of which really stand out against the black galvanic dial. The dial is then completed with diamond polished, faceted hands. The series is available for both men and women.

 

Ebel Beluga Limited Edition Chocolate Collection

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its iconic and popular Beluga series, Ebel released three limited edition timepieces in 2010 themed around chocolate – Beluga Black Chocolate, Beluga White Chocolate and Beluga Milk Chocolate. Each watch measures in at 42.5mm x 37mm and features a fully polished surface, as well as 68 cut diamonds, which are set in various sizes around the outside of the dial and total 1.8 carats. The dial itself is also features a chocolate inspired motif.

 

 

Ebel 1911 Tekton Football Watches

From 2008, Ebel became famous amongst football fans after it formed close commercial partnerships with some of Europe’s best known football teams including FC Bayern, Rangers, Arsenal, Ajax, Olympique Lyonnais and Shakhtar Donetsk. The limited edition Ebel 1911 Tekton club branded watches feature a titanium case measuring 48.5mm in diameter.

The mechanism is said to be the first watch of its kind to measure ‘football time’ as it comes complete with a 245 calibre Chronograph that can measure two 45 minute periods of football, as well as an extra time period where necessary. It also has a 48hr power reserve and is water resistant to 200 metres. The one pictured above is the Real Madrid version, which Jose Mourinho himself might even describe as a ‘special one’.

 

Ebel Classic 100

In celebration of the brands 100th anniversary, Ebel released the new Classic 100 watch, which is part of the limited edition 1911 series. The silver dial features four bold baton shaped hour markers, with silver leaf shaped hands. The blue seconds hand goes well against the silver background. There is also a date display at 3pm. The watch is powered an automatic Ebel 120 movement. The case is finished with an anti glare sapphire crystal.

 

Ebel Celebrity Partnerships

As mentioned, Ebel has a history of partnering itself with some of the world’s most famous sports and movies stars. More recently the brand has formed partnerships with the likes of Thierry Henry, Charlie Sheen and Supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

 

Jonathan Fairfield | Website

Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

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