The Artist & The Businessman

  • By Nadine Kluger

FREDI’S STORY (The Artist)

Fredi Brodmann

When I was commissioned to design the first Teno Boutique in New York several years ago, I did not know I would end up where it all began, once again.

Needless to say my store concept was too “out there” to ever be built. In the course of the next twenty years since I would occasionally meet Raphael Cohen at various watch fairs in the US and Europe. We would always have a brief friendly conversation and nothing more.

Only last year after a long day at the JCK show in Las Vegas, Raphael spotted me by chance.

We then had our first professional conversation. In that conversation, I learned that my TeNo shop design from years ago made him think I was crazy and not right for his design needs. Now he came to the conclusion he should work with me on his new watch branding and development needs. We have worked together ever since. Raphael has a deep knowledge of marketing and what sells. With his guidance, we have created several new and exciting watch collections together. We are taking the fashion watch category to a new level. We have created vibrant colored fun plastic dive watches with date, fresh crisp dive chronographs, and “nouveau bauhaus” styled minimalistic stainless steel timepieces with sapphire crystal, silicone and leather straps, using various movements with high end sophisticated graphic dials.

Universal Watch Co., Inc. (Raphael’s company) is a logistic and creative powerhouse from concept to an effective system for processing large numbers of shipments as well as drop shipping of singular orders. There is of course also a watchmaker on premises for immediate service needs. Their operations boast an efficient, modern office facility with all amenities radiating good vibes into the work atmosphere.


RAPHAEL’S STORY (The businessman)


I never had met or spoke to Fredi when he did the design for our flagship TeNo store in New York City, 20 years ago. The owner of the store had commissioned Fredi to come up with a design. We, being the United States distributor for TeNo Stainless Steel jewelry, had final say over the design of the store. What the owner brought me was pretty ridiculous. The store design was made to look almost like a spaceship. Unfortunately, while creative, the concept was too expensive and unrealistic for a small jewelry boutique in Soho. I rejected the idea but it was only after that I met Fredi Brodmann.

After the store opened in New York, I attended many jewelry and watch trade shows in New York, Las Vegas, and Europe. Fredi also attended each show and every time he would visit me at my booth. He would speak to me very quickly, wild-eyed. I thought he was crazy, I must admit. He would talk to me about watch concepts and nothing ever appealed to me.

Later, I had heard of a Swiss watch manufacturer who would commission dial design out to artists and pay them a royalty. What a wonderful idea! I immediately thought of Fredi. I approached Fredi and asked him to create dials for me for my 40Nine brand of sport watches. It wasn’t terribly creative work but I like Fredi’s ideas. Then, Fredi came to me with his designs for a limited-edition version of our SB (Steel Blaze) watches, which we would name “SB Select.” I freaked out! They were incredible and humorous. Fredi’s designs are way ahead of the curve and stunning at the same time. Now we take my ideas and needs and Fredi creates the perfect watch. The combination of our abilities has produced a new and exciting product line.

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