Ebel may not be a household name but the brand has a strong following and an instantly recognisable style. The brand is owned by the Movado group, a parent company that owns and runs a number of watch brands. Interestingly, Ebel is the only brand in the company portfolio that we would not call a ‘fashion brand.’ Fashion watches are of course those retailed by apparel and accessory brands. Generally these firms do not create in-house movements, and very often they do not even oversee the manufacture of the watches at all, rather other companies do this for them. These watches are also generally affordable, in comparison to high horology or luxury brands. A good brand example which most of us will be familiar with is Fossil. The brand is a powerhouse in the fashion watch industry and they also manufacture timepieces for companies such as Armani and Michael Kors.
Ebel is certainly not a fashion brand, and the first clue on this is the use of precious metals, and of course, their pricing. Founded in Switzerland in 1911 by Eugene Blum and Alice Levy, the husband and wife team created a brand that went on to create both purpose-driven and luxurious timepieces. In 1939, the brand provided watches for the British Air Force for use in WWII. In balance, and by contrast, they also became known for creating elegant watches for their female audience, even manufacturing pieces on behalf of Cartier in the 1970s.
The brand enjoyed great success in the 1970s and into the succeeding decades, managing to weather the devastating storm that was the Quartz Crisis. The advent of the battery-powered watch was a democratising revolution – (very reliable) watches became affordable and available to all but this was devastating for many brands. Some struggled to make the transition, and others refused, while some managed to get through to the other side with a combination of new and old technologies. During this time, Pierre-Alain Blum, grandson of the founders, took over Ebel. His formula for success was to embrace quartz movements and house them in the quality, jewellery-standard cases, for which the company was known.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, the company created some of their most successful lines, including the Sport Classic. However, the brand was sold in 1995, and again in 1999, and lost its way a little in terms of style and identity. It was in 2003 that The Movado Group purchased Ebel and this saw the company refocus on the models for which they were known, alongside developing in house movements, and sportier tool watches.
In our 07 June Jewellery & Watches auction, there are three Ebel watches: 293, 307 and 308.
Lyon & Turnbull’s Watch Auctions department is a dynamic one with significant expertise, hosting diverse watch auctions across the U.K. featuring fine, rare, modern and vintage timepieces. Highlights from recent auctions include a rare Rolex Daytona 6263 that sold for £62,500 in October 2021 and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak that achieved £106,250 (incl premium).
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