Mondaine’s Ronnie Bernheim

Valuing his firm’s independence, Mondaine’s chief knows how to fiercely wage a competitive fight.


At 65, Ronnie Bernheim, co-owner of Mondaine Watch Company, is one of his industry’s most energetic players.

“I’ve been in the watch industry since I was born,” he quips in view of the fact that his father Erwin founded the company. Bernheim freely offers that at this point in his career at Mondaine, “I have shifted the overall responsibility to my brother, André,” the other co-owner. “I’m operational, working on special projects. That’s the way I want and prefer it.”

His relationship with his brother is special and works well, he claims. “We talk every day. We are both strong-headed, but we are always in harmony.”

Bernheim has always been outspoken, whether it’s discussing Baselworld or proposed changes to Swiss-made certification.

“For small- and medium-sized Swiss companies in the low-and medium-price range,” offering the Swiss-made product category presents “a challenge to keep the price reasonable,” he says.

“There will be continued consolidation in the industry,” Bernhaim predicts. “A few big groups and other companies are fighting for their place in the world” and to secure space in retail stores.
Despite all his years of working with watches, Bernheim is still crazy about them. “I love the design, the touch and feel and the emotions that a piece of metal and glass can bring,” he says, noting that a watch is virtually the only item a person might wear day in and day out. “I also love the precision, in timekeeping and in design. A lot of it can’t be seen or appreciated by the wearer, but it matters.”

Bernheim values Mondaine’s independent status—as a smaller player in afield that includes conglomerate contenders—and considers this a key factor in his brand’s success. “I see everything as a never-ending process of screening ideas,” he says, adding, “We question ourselves and what is going on all the time. We remain constant on things we think are good, and we act very swiftly on opportunities.” And “if we see that things have changed, we can react quickly.” Besides innovation, “having good people around us is important for our success,” Bernheim says. “We are fighters. We want to be independent and fight every day.”

One of Bernheim’s favorite projects lately was creating the Helvetica Watch in 2014 as an icon for Mondaine (second only to its Swiss Railways Watch). The Helvetica collection takes its name and inspirationfrom the well-known typeface created in 1957 by a Swiss designer.

“When I was young, I always wanted a product where if you hear the name, you can envision the model,” Bernheim says “The Railways watch took us six years to get it on the market, and the Helvetica went much, much faster,” he says proudly.

“I love that in the watch industry, I can deal with a product that everyone has an opinion about,” Bernheim adds. “On the other hand, it’s an industry where we as a small- to medium-sized company can realize products on a worldwide basis. We handle everything from a concept all the way through to after-sales service all around the globe.”—Keith W. Strandberg