Graham 10 minutes With Eric Loth: Discover The Man Behind Graham
Watchmaker Graham has been honouring the heritage of London watchmaker George Graham since 1995. The company founder, Eric Loth, lets us in on some of his secrets.
What first got you interested in watchmaking?
I’ve been around watchmaking all my life. My father was a professor at the engineering school in the Canton of Neuchâtel, and our family moved to Le Locle in 1962. I completed the majority of my studies in the city of precision. After becoming a mechanical engineer, my first experience with watches was with Rado in Granges, where among other things I introduced ceramic materials and sapphire welding. I was then appointed head of product development for the brands of the Swatch Group, and I was fortunate to live through some very exciting years. But I always wanted to become a complete player in the industry, and that took over from my managerial ambitions. With the reactivation of Graham, Arnold & Son and Tompion, and the subsequent creation of new family brands including Charles Bowtie and Alex Benlo, you could say that watchmaking for me has become both a lifestyle and a personal achievement at the same time.
Eric Loth © Graham
What unique qualities do you think you bring to the brand?
I like to imagine the links between England’s watchmaking past, and the mastery and expertise that we have in Switzerland. I let myself be influenced by the British lifestyle, sometimes even a little English eccentricity, while remaining extremely Swiss and rational in terms of producing high-quality watches. That probably explains why our Chronofighter, with its control lever on the left, stands out from the competition, and has done so for 20 years. This touch of folly is also present in our second cult line, the Swordfish, and our Orrery supercomplication, with its solar system that needs no adjustment for the next 300 years. I’m convinced that the path to the future for an independent brand is through strong, recognisable products.
Tell us about an experience that reflects your definition of leadership.
I often compare an independent business to a ship. In fine weather, navigation and helmsmanship are largely technical activities. What matters is that you can see where you’re going. In heavy weather, the ship and its crew suddenly find themselves in danger, and they need guidance, anticipation, efficiency, motivation and... leadership.
What watch do you wear most often, and why?
Believe me, once you’ve strapped a Chronofighter on your wrist, it’s difficult to go back to a classic chronograph. So I often wear my Chronofighter Superlight Carbon... that’s when I’m not wearing my Swordfish Bronze!
Chronofighter Superlight Carbon Skeleton © Graham
As founder, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
I don’t feel like the founder. I’m more like a passenger. I built the boat, and I’m steering it, but only until such time as another skipper takes over and continues the journey.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about Graham?
I often get questions about the function of our lever. Many people still think it has something to do with waterproofing, but in fact it starts and stops the chronograph function. You activate it with the thumb, which is the fastest digit, not the index finger.
What is the most important feature of Graham that, in your opinion, is not sufficiently well known by the public?
Our independence is very precious to us. The public doesn’t necessarily think about that, but it is supremely important because, apart from the legal structure of the business, it gives us unparalleled freedom to think and to create. We are an ideas machine, tirelessly pursuing creative and innovative solutions. We make it our business to break down certain preconceived codes of the industry. The public is starting to become aware of this, and they are particularly attracted to our unusual limited series such as the Chronofighter Superlight, a timepiece made of translucent carbon that weighs under 100 grams, or the Chronofighter Emergency Gold, which has a real gold ingot set into the dial.
Chronofighter Vintage Emergency © Graham
Can you give us, in a few words, an idea of some of the future projects of the brand?
Our future will be focused on our products, as has always been the case for Graham. Our watches will continue to offer innovative materials that set us apart. The functions of our timepieces will always follow a logic, and our series will become increasingly limited, in order to maintain an exclusivity and originality worthy of our independence.
Based in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Graham preserves the legacy of London clockmaker George Graham, developing modern timepieces that combine sophisticated techniques with an atypical design.Find out more >
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