Christophe Hoppe founded his Sydney-based watch label Bausele after more than a decade working for global watch companies TechnoMarine and Universo SA, both of which belong to the Swatch Group.
Hoppe, who was born in France, met his Australian wife (ballet dancer Alexandra Grace Carey) in Geneva, Switzerland. After the pair moved to Sydney in 2010, Hoppe – who had always designed watches in his spare time – decided in 2011 to start his own watch brand, after he noticed a gap in the Australian market for locally designed, Swiss-made luxury watches.
“There were two things he wanted,” Bausele CEO Arron Coote told Broadsheet (Hoppe was travelling at the time of publication). “One: the watch must have Swiss precision, and two: they needed to be uniquely Australian.”
“To make them uniquely Australian, Christophe decided to fill the hollow crown of each watch with red earth from the outback or sand from one of our beautiful beaches,” Coote explains. (The crown is the small dial that allows you to change the time.) The name Bausele is a portmanteau of sorts of the words “beyond Australian elements”.
The watches are assembled in the Swiss watchmaking region of La Chaux-de-Fonds, and Swiss company Soprod makes movements for two Bausele styles. (Switzerland is considered to be the home of horology and the world’s best watchmakers)
Bausele watches employ a quartz movement, meaning the second hand has the individual “tick-tick” motion that moves once per second, unlike mechanical watches (the kind often associated with luxury watchmakers) that have a smooth, sweeping motion. Quartz movements are very accurate and require minimal maintenance aside from battery replacements.
“We want to encourage our customers to work hard and play hard,” Coote says. “Our tagline is ‘beach to boardroom’ … each timepiece comes with two quick-release straps so you can change the look of the watch in seconds. You can wear the stainless steel or leather strap to work, then switch the strap out for the rubber one and you can be on your surfboard in the ocean.”
Each Bausele watchcase is made from surgical grade 316 stainless steel; the plastic straps are made from recycled PET soft-drink bottles; leather straps come in black or brown; and orange rubber straps are also available.
The smart but sporty Oceanmoon III ($990) can be worn as a day watch or to dressy events. It’s waterproof up to 200 metres, tells the wearer when the tide is high or low, and has a nano-ceramic glass face, which Bausele says is 30 per cent more shatter-proof than standard sapphire glass. Its crown is filled with genuine beach sand.
The crown in the limited-edition Sydney Opera House ($595) timepiece – available to buy online and at the Opera House store – contains crushed tile from the Sydney architectural icon, and the face takes inspiration from Opera House architect Jørn Utzon’s original sketches.
And Bausele’s smartwatch doesn’t look like a smartwatch at all. The Vintage 2.0 has a vintage-look analogue face (with a tiny kangaroo on the dial), but it’s actually connected to an app on your phone. The watch can count your steps, monitor your sleep, and alert you to missed calls and texts. It’s designed to give wearers a break from screen time whilst keeping them connected.
“We want our customers to take time for life and make real, engaged connections with friends and family, away from phones,” Coote says. The Vintage 2.0 is priced at $750, but it’s currently on pre-order for $525, to be released in early 2020.
Bausele already has fans in Europe and the US, and will soon launch in China with three experiential stores, replete with outback-inspired red earth on the floor and Australian wood furnishings.