Jaermann & Stübi AG
Can a mechanical watch help you improve your golf game? Urs Jaermann, founder of Jaermann & Stübi AG, says his handicap dropped from 26 to 18 with the help of his golf watch. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan met with the former advertising executive at the company’s Zurich headquarters to find out about the brand’s recent alliance with St. Andrews Links as their official timekeeper and supplier, as well as its new limited edition in honor of legendary Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros. Naturally, golf stories were part of the conversation.
ET: Tell us about your background.
Urs Jaermann: My background is in advertising and marketing. I was an executive with Young & Rubicam and McCann Erickson, but I always had a passion for watches. My father collected Jaeger-LeCoultre. I also loved golf even though I am a lousy golfer, and [in advertising] I was getting tired of starting over again each time with a new 20-something marketing manager, and that’s what led me to start a watch company. Of course, I understood that communication is critical and now with Excellence Holdings [the Zurich-based company that owns Swiss watch retailer Les Ambassadeurs] we have the financial strength we needed.
ET: When did you start?
Urs Jaermann: We formed the company in 2005 and delivered our first watch in 2007, so you can say we’re still a start-up. Jaermann & Stübi is a niche brand focusing on golf.
ET: Tell us about the watch.
Urs Jaermann: The watch helps you with counting your strokes. There is a pusher for each stroke. It counts as many or as few strokes as you have on a hole, and it has an indicator dial at the top. After each hole, you tap another pusher and it puts you on to the next hole, puts the counter for the individual hole back to zero and moves a counter on the edge of the dial, keeping your cumulative score. It always starts with hole one, so if you are playing in a shotgun format you will always know how many holes you have left to play. To reset the counter there is a screwed pusher so you can’t reset by accident, and the watch of course has special shock absorbing technology, making it durable.
ET: Recently you struck an alliance with St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf.
Urs Jaermann: We are a partnership, and we are now the “Official Timekeeper of St. Andrews Links.” We share the same values, so we are going to be supplying all the clocks there. To mark this we are launching the St. Andrews Links Course Timer & GMT as a limited edition. There are 18 pieces and each is linked to one of the holes. With the watch you also get an iron plate with hole number, name and yardage, the same as the one that is at the actual hole on the Old Course. You also get “virtual ownership” of your online hole, and this gives you the ability to tell your own stories about the hole and the course. The watch retails for 49,000 CHF [about $48,767]. If somebody wants, we can even make the presentation on the hole of his or her watch!
ET: Are there any other novelties for 2010?
Urs Jaermann: We have just launched a 50-piece limited edition in honor of Seve Ballesteros. The case was forged from the clubs that he used to win his last tournament, the Spanish Open, in 1995.
ET: What do the Seve Ballesteros watches retail for?
Urs Jaermann: These watches retail at 19,500 CHF [about $19,408].
ET: Are there any other alliances or honorary watches planned?
Urs Jaermann: Yes, but I can’t tell you yet.
ET: How many pieces do you make per year?
Urs Jaermann: 500.
ET: Haven’t other companies attempted golf watches before?
Urs Jaermann: We found several brands tried it, but the functions really weren’t very useful, so maybe they weren’t golfers. Also, I am not sure the technology we use for the movements would have been available 10 years ago.
ET: Where are you selling now?
Urs Jaermann: We have distribution in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Mexico, and will be adding Italy and South Africa in the fall. We have a worldwide market. In the U.S. right now we have one retailer, and our best markets are Germany and Switzerland, although the clientele is global.
ET: What’s the starting price point?
Urs Jaermann: The opening price point is 4,900 CHF [about $4,878].
ET: Has your own golf game improved?
Urs Jaermann: My handicap is down from 30 to 26—of course, as we say, your results may vary [laughs].