Jürgen Werner

C. H. Wolf: Crowdfunding for growth

Words and photography: Gisbert Brunner​

There are different ways for a company to grow. German brand C. H. Wolf is going down a path not well trodden in the watch industry and trying its luck with crowdfunding
Gisbert Brunner

Gisbert L. Brunner was born in 1947 and has worked with every sort of precision timepiece, though mainly wristwatches, since the 1960s. He has now published more than 15 books on the subject. He is also in demand the world over as a public speaker.

If you want to grow, you need capital. As an entrepreneur you can either provide that capital yourself or seek it from investors. In the latter case, one distinguishes between institutional and private investors.

On June 22 2015, C. H. Wolf, the Glashütte-based brand which emerged from Hemess in 2014, launched a cash call via equity crowdfunding. That’s to say private investors who are willing to invest a minimum of €250 can then take an active part in the business.

To this end, the two Managing Directors - Jürgen Werner and Christoph Pfeiffer - have been working with the crowdfunding platform Bergfürst, which was set up in 2011 and now boasts some 11,000 users.

Jürgen Werner gives his reasons for their unusual decision to bring private investors into the further development of the brand: 

“Our whole business philosophy is about being different; I’d even go so far as to say refreshingly and compellingly different, which is why we decided to grow in this particular way, using crowdfunding and Bergfürst.”

Atelier of C.H. Wolf

The studio of C. H. Wolf, Glashütte

Jürgen Werner reveals that this is a fairly humble first step. 

“To start with we hope to reach a threshold of €500,000. And if we want to target a higher sum further down the line – I’m thinking of a figure in the millions – then we can do more crowdfunding at a later date.”

Jürgen Werner has a clear vision of what C.H. Wolf hopes to achieve with the money it attracts in this way. As a former banker, he also has the relevant experience. 

“Firstly we want to acquire more precision machinery for our manufacture in Glashütte. Then we urgently need to broaden our sales and distribution structure. The third thing we need to focus on is innovative marketing activities.”

Of course I am interested to know whether C. H. Wolf, like A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original, Grossmann, Mühle, Nomos, Tutima and Wempe, is thinking of a luxury calibre or even a calibre all of its own. Jürgen Werner continues: 

“We also have a movement of our own in our sights as a business. But the idea of our own manufacture is for the long term so isn’t our main priority.“

“WE ALSO HAVE A MOVEMENT OF OUR OWN IN OUR SIGHTS AS A BUSINESS.”
Jürgen Werner

Of course there is also the question of the opportunities and risks potential investors face if they get involved with C. H. Wolf. Jürgen Werner is unequivocal in his answer.

Flymatic Chronograph of C.H. Wolf

Flymatic Chronograph - C.H. Wolf

 

“Crowdfunding via Bergfürst is a shareholder or participating loan. In other words it’s a loan for which the investor is party to a percentage of C. H. Wolf’s success as a business. In accordance with the agreement, we distribute interest and also repay the loan.” 

As to the potential risks, Jürgen Werner answers, 

“The subordinate loan lender is in a similar position regarding risk as an equity capital investor. But they don’t have the same right to be heard as a shareholder.” 

Do investors get a deal on C. H. Wolf watches?

“Watch-lovers who invest a minimum of €7,000 with us will be given an option on a special investor’s watch, on offer for just €2,000.” 

Then let me finish by wishing you every success and plenty of interest.

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08 2015 The Red Bulletin

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