97 years of Titoni watches | A look at their past & where they are today9:35 am
For almost a century, Titoni has been creating watches in Grenchen. Infact Titoni watches have a long history with India. Titoni was one of the first Swiss Watches that was actively doing business in India. Titoni started selling watches in India just after India gained its independence. Its popularity in India was unparalleled in the 1950’s and 60’s . However in 1975 when Emergency was declared in India, Titoni chose to leave the country as the environment was completely unfavorable for the luxury watch manufacturer. After a break of over four decades, Ethos was able to convince the owner to re-enter India and bring its stunning Master Series, Airmaster Series, Miss Lovely collection and 5 other collections back to India. The Ethos team looks into its milestones and captures a few images from their factory.
Milestones of the Titoni History
1919 – Titoni is founded under the name of Felca AG
The watch-making industry was introduced to Grenchen, a small town in Switzerland, in 1851. With economic conditions still unstable, Fritz Schluep set up a watch company with just three employees, under the name of Felco in 1919 which was later changed to Felca AG. Historically, the year 1919 was the year to start afresh, with the World War just over, seeking a brighter future were young hopefuls like Fritz Schluep.
With courage and mere entrepreneurial spirit, Fritz Schluep worked hard to achieve an international reach offering a variety of watch models each year. A true visionary, Schluep had decided early on to look beyond the borders of Switzerland. This resulted in Felca’s first sales in Germany, America and Japan. Success was inevitable with hard work and a future plan which resulted in the company expanding to 15 employees in just one year.
“We are not what you would consider a trendsetter. We produce watches for self-assured people who know who they are and what they want.”
1930 – Fashion on the forefront
Changing lanes, the 1920s saw a significant rise in the world of fashion and design which influenced Felca’s models. Incorporating a blend of elegant designs with treasurable materials and extravagant colours, Felca AG produced magnificent pieces of watches catering to the changing times of the world.
However, the Great Depression of the 1930s proved to create immense problems in the Swiss watch industry with the entire industry in an economic paralysis. Fritz Schleup battered through with great zeal and an iron will and took to producing watches that were high quality yet affordable, holding on to his customer.
1935 – Moving on with the changing times
A new wave of optimism sailed through the world during the late 30s which gave rise to a new movement called Modernism. With great accomplishments in the field of art, painting, architecture and designs, Felca AG too moved along with the developing times and incorporated new and innovative technologies to produce more sophisticated watches without actually losing track of its roots and tradition.
The launch of the 309 715 ladies gold watch further sealed the brand’s innovative capability. The ladies gold watch was finished in 18-carat gold equipped with a domed crystal. The crystal emanating women at that time: ladylike and self-assured.
1945 – Felca AG for the US Army in the Second World War
The following years marked the steady development of Felca AG which had strengthened to over seventy employees. Fleca AG had gained many friends who had taken a liking towards the superior-quality and tasteful design elegance of its various models. During this wonderful time of an upward stretch, Bruno Schluep, the oldest son of Fritz Schluep, joined the family company.
Before joining his father’s company, he had completed his training as a “Horloger complet” which means an all-round watchmaker. Due to Bruno’s experience in American watch factories during the Second World War, Felca was awarded an order for 30,000 watches by the US Army, before the end of the war. For this reason, Felca produced an incredible timepiece that met all the military design criteria from the utility, functionality to easy and simple maintenance and repair. With an understanding of the international business management and markets, Bruno proved to be an irreplaceable asset. He enabled Felca to tap into countries around the world.
1950 – The founding of Titoni on the flowering of the Meihua
In its effort to reach out to the world, Felca tried their hand at near and the Middle East with tremendous success. From Saudi Arabia, Syria to Iraq, India, and Malaysia. Convinced with the Southeast Asia market, Bruno Schluep dived into the market with much vigour and tenacity.
Combining Swiss quality with the Asian business market was an opportunity that could not be missed by Bruno Schluep. On a chance encounter, he came across Mr. Koh Mui Yew, a business man in Singapore. The two businessmen reached an agreement to offer a new brand with an agreeable name, thus was the birth of the name “Titoni”. It encapsulated watches that were more expensive, addressing a different clientèle altogether. In addition to the change in name, a stylised flower symbol, the meihua, which means “plum blossom”, was incorporated in the manufacturer’s brand name. Just as a mei tree lives for a long time and can reach an age of more than a thousand years, so is the story of Titoni. Just as Mei is a family name, so is Titoni that prides itself on being a family-oriented business.
The effect of modern marketing greatly aided the success for Titoni as a brand in the Southeast Asian market.
This led to the launch of individually designed watches, “Sportsmaster”, “Airmaster” and “Rist- Mate” and “Blue Bird” in the early 1950s albeit under the “Felca” brand name. The following years saw the launch of the “Maharajah”, the hand-wound Felca moon phase and the “Desert Router”.
1960 – The metamorphosis of Felca AG to Felca & Titoni Uhren AG
The death of the founder and spiritual father, Fritz Schluep in 1959 stamped Bruno Schluep as the heir to the family heritage. When the brand name Titoni started, it brought in not only massive sales but also constituted an increasing share of the total sales; Felca AG was renamed Felca & Titoni Uhren AG in the 1960s. The ensuing years had Felca watches being mainly sold in European countries, Near and Middle East whereas Titoni watches were concentrated in the Southeast Asian countries.
The 60s saw the launch of American pop inspired, arty, and fresh, feminine watches in strong colours and geometrical forms. Titoni also launched Airmaster that was ground-breaking for its innovative technology. A radically modern collection, one of Titoni’s leading models.
1970 – An era of “Retro” magic
An era of artistic “revival”, Felca & Titoni Uhren AG drew inspiration from this era with similar design concepts, with minimalistic design devoid of unnecessary decorations. The “Race King” by Titoni reflected classical touches of the colonial style with refined and elegant designs. This 1970s men’s watch was conceived keeping the “retro” theme in mind. Reflecting a society where traditional walked simultaneously with modernity, the watch exemplified the 70s era of “retro” “revival”. Titoni also introduced the “Space Star” which was equipped with an automatic movement, drenched in unconventional design concepts like the classical Bauhaus strove.
In 1979, Titoni introduced their first ever diving watch called the “Seascoper” which was a robust, watertight diver watch. A watch that is truly dedicated to mechanical sophistication and an insatiable thirst for adventure.
1975 – Titoni and most luxury companies active in India stop operations as emergency is declared
1980 – Glamourous genesis of the second generation
Celebrating its sixtieth anniversary in 1979, Felca & Titoni Uhren AG was joined by the third generation of the Schluep family, Daniel Schluep. After the death of Bruno in 1981, his youngest son Daniel, joined the company. Equipped with a thorough understanding of the watch industry, Daniel, like his father, dived into the world of Horlogerie.
The Quartz revolution took a toll on the company drastically, with the share of quartz watches never exceeding 20% at Felca & Titoni Uhren AG. However, strengthening the high-quality automatic movement and by deciding to limit their share of quartz watches, the company concentrated on markets in Southeast Asia. Daniel Schluep’s marketing interest and Titoni AG management interlaced excellently with the history and culture of the Far East enabling a profitable bond between the two. The 1980’s brought back conservatism and Titoni demonstrated their support of the changing world by launching its masculine-tinged feminine watch the “Cosmo 88 Lady” which combined elegant design with pioneering technology.
1990 – The re-definition of luxury
The glamorous and glitzy 80s left no space for it to exist in the 90s. The designs calmed down and refined and discreet masterpieces were allowed to see the light of day. Luxury took a whole new meaning.
In 1994, Titoni introduced the automatic timepiece called the “Cosmo 3000” which had a second time zone meter. It incorporated an aura of simplicity combined with exquisite fine jewellery. Creating watches that showcased Titoni’s expertise in classic and simple watches with a touch of elegance.
2000 – Looking forward into a bright future
The 21st century saw the advent of spectacular timepieces from Titoni. These included the special edition sports style, world-time watch dedicated to the famous Chinese sailor, “Zheng He”, to their popular Master Series collection that is a luxurious COSC certified chronometer.
By 2009, Titoni had established its brand with huge success and took pride in its 90-year long history of independence and tradition. Equipped with a remodelled logo and slogan, “Shaping Moments of Life”, Titoni is confidently looking forward to a bright and successful future. In 2014, Titoni unveiled their highly anticipated new SEASCOPER diver’s watch to mark the brand’s 95th anniversary.
Titoni has always taken pride in the fact that it is one of the few Swiss watch companies that have remained an independent family-oriented company for as long as it has. Remaining true to its reputation of specialising in mechanical watches, it strives to create Swiss watches of the highest quality, that are affordable and satisfy the widest variety of tastes.
Titoni As It Stands Today
Videos From Titoni
With core fundamentals like tradition, Swiss Made, and automatic movement, Titoni is a brand that is surely making giant leaps into the world of Haute Horlogerie. Exclusively available in India at Ethos Watch Boutiques.
Have we missed anything regarding Titoni’s rich history? Let us know in the comments section below.
Features Writer, The Watch Guide
A budding watch enthusiast with an undying love for crime fiction and a soft spot for fantasy too!