The current history the Zodiac Swiss Watch Company
1990 - Willy Gad Monnier, a former Tag Heuer principal, buys the Zodiac brand and modernizes all Zodiac models with a definite Tag Heuer influence. This company went bankrupt in late 1997. These models can often be found on the Internet at bargain basement prices! This is because Swiss law protects the parts manufactures who are allowed to assemble these parts into watches and sell them off so that they do not get stuck with useless inventory.
From Oct/Nov 97's ©Europa Star Magazine
ZODIAC WATCHES GOES BANKRUPT: The Neuchatel watchmaker Montres Zodiac SA has declared bankruptcy. The company was founded in 1888 in Le Locle, Switzerland. According to its director, financial difficulties caused the firm to close its doors. He cited unpaid deliveries, a decrease in orders and a loss of bank credit lines a the main reasons for the brands problems. The main market for Zodiac's products was the USA. Six people have been laid off. The firm is looking for someone to take over the brand.
Sept. 1998 – Genender International, Inc. (a US company in Wheeling, IL) buys the ZODIAC inventory, all of their trademarks and registrations and other assets out of bankruptcy from the Swiss Courts. Genender also manufactures the Smith and Wesson, Levi’s, B.U.M., and other inexpensive Far East watches.
Genender discontinued all of the “Point” series models, the Swiss Formulas, the Sea Wolf, and most automatic watches as well as all automatic chronographs. The only two 1990’s models kept were the Super Sea Wolf and the Marine Life, both of which were updated with new metal bands.
In October 2000 Genender introduced the Sea Wolf II, an aggressive evolution of the long-standing Sea Wolf diver’s watch but it was only available in a quartz model. They also introduced the Astrographic 2000, a sleek updated version of one of the most known and favorite models ever in the Zodiac line. This watch, like its predecessor, was a mystery model, meaning that the hands appear to float over the dial, as they are painted markers on transparent disks. The Astrographic was well received by the watch industry and was written up in several publications.
October 2001 – Fossil Inc. purchases the Zodiac Swiss brand. Fossil announced that it has entered into a letter of intent to acquire three separate companies located in Switzerland. These companies will provide the Company with design, sourcing and production capabilities necessary to manufacture and market Swiss-made watches. Fossil News Release
In November 2001 Fossil announced that it had completed the acquisition of three separate companies located in Bienne, Switzerland. These companies, Montres Antima SA (“Antima”), Meliga Habillement Horloger SA (“Meliga”) and Synergies Horlogeres SA, (“Synergies”) provide the Company with design, sourcing and production capabilities necessary to manufacture and market Swiss-made watches.
Antima, established in 1919, designs, sources and assembles Swiss-made watches under both owned and private label brands. Meliga serves as a component sourcing group offering watch bands, cases and other watch components to various well-known Swiss-made watch manufacturers. Synergies designs and develops watch prototypes for various companies worldwide. The Company’s Swiss watch manufacturing operations will be operated separately from its core FOSSIL brand business. Fossil News Release
When this author contacted Fossil about its intent for the Zodiac brand he was told the following:
“I will do my best to answer all of your questions. Basically, as per our discussion, we will not be moving forward with any styles from the current (Genender) collection, but will instead be re-launching the brand with a new collection at the Basel Show in April 2002 with retail delivery in the Fall. All I can say at this time is that the collection will be Swiss made and will be comprised of 3 families: Classics, Sports and Fashion. Pricing and distribution (have yet) to be determined. We will be contacting all former distributors and dealers and discussing future opportunities with us when we have more information to offer.”
This discontinuation of the current line includes the new Astrographic 2000 models and the Super Sea Wolf, both of which just became instant collectables as the Astro 2000 was made in VERY limited quantities and the Super Sea Wolf, the premier diver's watch, will no longer be made after almost 50 years.
April 15, 2002 – Zodiac 1882, AG has introduced the new Zodiac line at the Basel Watch Show in Switzerland this past week. Some of the new models are shown on their web page at www.ZodiacWatches.com.
I would be interested in any thoughts you may have on the Zodiac brand.