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CX SWISS MILITARY WATCH™ 20’000 FEETInterview with diving watch expert Frank M. Bürgin

He is one of the most renowned diving watch experts and title holder of the current depth world record for mechanical diving watches. We are talking about Frank M. Bürgin, the man behind the World  Record holding timepieces 12’000 FEET and 20’000 FEET. We met him in his company in Liestal – just outside Basel – for an exclusive interview.

TW: Mr Bürgin, you are the title holder of the current depth World Record for mechanical diving watches. What was your main motivation to create such an unusual timepiece?

FB: Our company Montres Charmex SA, the manufacturer of the CX Swiss Military watches, is a small watch manufacturer with a long tradition dating back to 1926. We are deeply rooted in this part of Switzerland and concentrate on niche markets and consumers whose very high expectations only a few watch manufacturers can fulfill. Our 12’000 FEET fetched the depth World Record for mechanical diving watches in 2005. Until that very moment no technological development was to be seen in the field of diving watches for years – we can thus claim that thanks to our 12’000 FEET innovation is en vogue once again amongst diving watch manufacturers! Our main motivation was to go beyond existing technological limits – don’t settle with what seems to be the current technological state-of-the-art but break through these barriers and thus become the industry’s benchmark.

TW: You managed to achieve a World Record in 2005 with the 12‘000 FEET. What insights and customer feedbacks enabled you to come out with the 20’000 FEET in 2009?

FB: Through our Concierge Service we stay in close contact to the buyers of our products and receive a lot of valuable feedback. We also owe our gratitude to Prof. Fuat Kent, a Austrian diving instructor with Greenpeace known for his profound diving expertise far beyond Austria; his in-depth three year evaluation of the 12’000 FEET helped us to further improve the concept and come up with the 20’000 FEET. Fluorescent indices on the bezel, pronounced minute hand, special marking of the pushers when opened etc. – we received these and more were feedbacks in the years after the launch of the 12’000 FEET and we incorporated them into the development of the 20’000 FEET.

TW: What would you consider the main technical features of the 20‘000 FEET?

FB: The main and obvious feature is the incredible water resistance of 20‘000 feet; the 20‘000 FEET is not just a mere watch, it is an instrument, an instrument for professional divers who are keen on backing up their diving computers with the redundancy a mechanical diving watch offers. But to be redundant the diving watch has to be nearly indestructible – something we proved with a variety of real-life tests. Apart from the water resistance you might also want to mention the floating suspension of the 10mm thick sapphire crystal, the highly effective shock-absorbance of the movement and the multi-level sealing of the caseback.

TW: Is there a comparable watch out in the market?

FB: No; the 20‘000 FEET – a chronograph! – is over 2‘000 meters more water resistant than the next best competitor (Rolex SeaDweller Deep Sea – three hand movement).

TW: The 20‘000 FEET had to undergo several punishing real-life tests – who comes up with those test ideas?

FB: The 20‘000 FEET was launched during a press conference at the 2009 BASELWORLD. There we asked the journalists present to invite their readers to come forth with their very own ideas for real-life tests. The result can be seen on our website and on Youtube on our channel SwissMilitaryWatch!

TW: Which test was your personal favorite?

FB: The free-fall test – for one, this was my very first tandem skydive experience from an altitude of 4’000 meters, for another this was the ultimate test for the movement of the 20’000 FEET. Do remember that in a free-fall from 1’500 meters above ground the watch hits the ground with a speed of over 600km/h – resulting in an impact energy of 4,4kj! We ourselves were rather surprised that not only the watch case but also the ETA chronograph movement 7750 COSC survived the impact without any damage whatsoever. Just imagine – a mechanical movement, consisting of hundreds of tiny components does not get damaged when hitting the ground at 600km/h in a watch weighing 265gr!

TW: Kommen noch weitere Tests? Are there any more tests planned?

FB: Indeed – we have two already planned for 2010 and should your readers have suggestions of their own feel free to contact us!

TW: Given the comparatively small size of your company and brand you are highly innovative – both with your products and also with your online appearance. What kind of response did you get with your websites and your videos on Youtube? What kind of experience have you had with your Facebook fan page so far?

FB: Viral marketing using networking tools and platforms like Facebook is absolutely central and essential for us. Here it is where opinions are made – based on what we show our target group on our websites and on Youtube. Based on the amount of Facebook fans we managed to enter the Top 20 watch brands within a few months only! Together with our forum on this allows us to communicate with our target groups without substantial wastage, to interact with them and get feedback essential to improve both our products and our service.

TW: Mr. Bürgin, we would like to thank you for your time and we wish you lots of success with the new tests!