Ventura V-Tek Sigma MGS
Earlier today, I posted news that Ventura had gone bankrupt and while it had been news for me, I later learned that it shut down last year in November and little had been written about it except for a few forum posts scattered over the web.
Ventura set itself up for the fall when Pierre Nobs, the self styled design entrepreneur behind the brand decided to forge deeper towards its goal of establishing a luxury digital brand by repositioning the company outside of the 1000-5000 Euro segment. In order to do this, they need capital and so they took on some outside investors. The company’s capital stock was upped from CHF500k to CHF900k, but when sales fell sharply the new investors bailed out and auctioned off the assets.
In a web post, he wrote:
Today, on the 12th of November, the receiver of the bankrupt Ventura Design on Time conducted an auction to sell the entire assets including the brand and the stock.
While I tried hard to get back the control, I stood no chance against the highest bidder, the US corporation Swiss Watch International SWI, who as of now is the new owner.
I am sure that this is good news to those seeking a bargain.
For me as the founder of Ventura, this is the moment to say goodbye to you; thank you for your loyal support over all these many years. You will understand that I will now first take some distance from the events of today.
Pierre tried to bid for it but lost to an American company named Swiss Watch International. SWI was a wristwatch wholesaler in the States that decided to venture into distribution by acquring the North American distribution rights for Givenchy and Jacques Lemans Geneve. They also had their own swiss made brand called Swiss Legend. And now, they owned Ventura except things didn’t end there.
Swatch Group filed an injunction as they claimed that they were owners of the Ventura brand in the USA. Ventura was the collection name of a Hamilton Model.
Swatch had a contract of co-existence with Ventura, under which Swatch received title to the Ventura brand and Ventura Design on Time SA was granted the exclusive right of use. Swatch claimed that the contract became obsolete when one signing party went out of business.
In an early interview with Timezone, Pierre explained how the Swatch contract came about:
“When I registered the name ‘Ventura’ in the USA, we got the rights clean and fast, but the same asshole-lawyer, to whom we paid dearly at that time, turned back on us a couple of years later, saying that his new client SMH had, although not registered-, older rights on the name. This was at a time that I did not particularly care about the US market, so we struck a stupid deal that would allow SMH to take over our registration, but giving us the right to use ‘segments by Ventura’ as our US-brand.
I appealed to Mr. Hayek three years ago to give us a break (-after all we are good customers of ETA), but the SMH-laywers involved wanted to prove their salaries by demanding impossible terms, so we decided to go by that awkward name of ‘segments by Ventura’ in the states, that’s how we started again a couple of years ago.
Then I find myself last year in a plane on its way to the Far-East, watching that movie ‘Men in black’ promoting the ‘Hamilton Ventura-watch’. So I questioned SMH, how they could infringe on our rights for the ‘Ventura’ name outside the USA. The result was as entertaining as the movie itself: a settlement with SMH was reached in weeks, giving us now the right to use our own brand ‘Ventura design on time’ also in the USA.” (link)
So far SWI is still trying to get the Swatch Group to negotiate a new contract. Until then, the entire deal is blocked and Ventura lives in limbo. On the other hand, Pierre remains defiant:
“There are yet many ideas, innovations and designs that are ready to stun the watch community and I have been encouraged to create a new and even bolder corporation”