Luxury watch nirvana is found at the annual Baselworld event. Held in Swiss city of Basel- from March 19-March 26 – everybody who’s an anybody is there. And this year Australia has its first entrant – Bausele (which stands for Beyond AUStralian ELEments), an Australian company creating luxury Swiss-made watches.
The company, found by Christophe Hoppe,a Swiss-raised Frenchman who now lives in Sydney. Australia was the inspiration for Hoppe’s designs, and each watch actually has a ‘little piece’ of Australia inside them, such as sand or red dust– in the crown of each of its watches. The brand have also collaborated with Flinders University in South Australia on a new material for their watches, Bauselite. Ambassadors for brand include the likes of basketball player Andrew Bogut, Australia’s highest paid sportsman, and Lisa Blair, a professional sailor and the first female to sail solo around Antarctica.
At Baselworld Hoppe will show eight collections, including their first dedicated women’s collection.
We grabbed Hoppe for five minutes before his Baselworld debut to chat about about selling Australia to Australians, scientific breakthroughs in the watch industry and what he hopes to achieve at Baselworld.
Can you explain the ‘little piece of Australia’ concept and how this will be expanded in the future? Why was it important to incorporate Australia into the designs?
Australia is the concept of Bausele. But being an “Australian” brand wasn’t enough so I thought of incorporating a piece of Australia in the watch. When you think of Australia overseas, you think outback and nice beaches amongst other images. This is how I was the first watch brand ever to include in the crown an element of a country. That was a first step of a very distinctive and unique concept for Bausele but what I am really proud of is the production unit that we have in partnership with Flinders University where we manufacture our own composite, the Bauselite (patent pending) and bringing back manufacturing in Australia!
How did the partnership with Flinders University come about, and what’s it like working with scientists?
Flinders University has a commercialisation arm called Flinders Partners. Anthony Francis who runs it got in contact with me and introduced me to different program within the University. We end up finding common interest with David Lewis and Jonathan Campbell from the Nano Connect program and started to work on ideas that we could apply to a watch. We end up pursuing the route of manufacturing the main component of the watch case and above all they found a process and material that is so unique that we can call it our own (the Bauselite). Nano Connect are not the idea that you have from “scientists”, they understand the requirements of the “real” world when we talk about cost, deadline and leadtime. We are very lucky that they found us and that they were so passionate to find a solution to manufacture a component in Australia.
What are the new technologies we will be seeing in the watch market in the near future?
Of course, we all hear about the smart watches. At the moment, the main goal is to develop manufacturing in Australia, create jobs and have a profitable manufacturing business.
Who are you targeting with your watches? Who is buying them right now?
Our customers are mainly Australians in Australia and Australians leaving overseas. The image of Australia is so good around the world that we want to take advantage of that positive image to start to sell something luxurious and Australian to the world. Two words that haven’t been associated together a lot in the past, we want to change that considering all the great raw material that we are producing.
What are your hopes/expectation for Baselworld? What happens after that?
A lot of orders! And attention from the media worldwide:) BaselWorld is the place where all the buyers and journalists interested in watches and jewellery from around the world meet once every year.