Rodania is a Swiss watch brand. The company was established in 1930, in Grenchen, a town renowned for its watch- and clock making activities.
History of Rodania watch brand
In 1930 the Rodania brand was created in Grenchen, in the heart of the Swiss watch industry. It was from here that the brand started its conquest, step by step. Grenchen remained the epicenter of the Rodania activities for decades to come. In order to promote its export activities, two new distribution centers were established in the early fifties: one in Montreal and one in Brussels.
In the mid seventies it was decided to organize the worldwide Rodania watch distribution from the Brussels sales office. Thus being in the heart of Europe, the distribution centre found its home in Wemmel, near Brussels. From here the Rodania watches find their way to every corner of the world.
The growing success of the brand made continuous expansion of the Brussels sales and distribution center necessary. Moreover, in order to support its successful presence in France, a Lyon office was added to the Rodania company structure in 2001.
Today, Rodania remains one of few independent Swiss brands. The brand has a retail presence in some 1000 outlets around the globe with a focus on the Low Countries and France, yet present in some 25 other countries, selling some 200000 watches annually. Besides watches, the Rodania Group is also active in jewelry, manufactures watches under license and distributes watches and jewelry brands in certain assigned regions.
A Swiss Watch Brand with Belgium Heart Beat
Switzerland and Belgium share two passions with the rest of the world: chocolate and Rodania watches. Despite the abundance of watchmakers on today’s market, Belgians are still very attached to this company which chose their small country as its second home. Rodania settled in Belgium over half a century ago in order to send off its watches throughout Europe and to other continents.
A love story is behind Rodania’s ‘dual nationality’. Very attached to its native soil and its Swiss expertise, the brand which was founded in the canton of Bern in 1930 has had a Belgian heart since the 1950s. In this period, the company set up numerous distribution offices abroad. Its founder, Hans Baumgartner, decided to organise the worldwide distribution of the brand’s watches from the Brussels office! In 1955, he entrusted a young and dynamic manager with this responsibility. His name was Manfred Aebi.
This Swiss national had the perfect reason to take on this challenge: he had found love and started a family in Belgium! The subsidiary quickly prospered thanks to his visionary ideas such as the sports advertising and marketing which he pioneered. In 1974, Manfred Aebi took over the ailing parent company and founded his own firm. Rodania’s headquarters and all the logistics business were then relocated to the outskirts of Brussels.
The Aebi family ran the company until June 2007. The Belgian watch group which succeeded it took the name of ‘Montebi’: a contraction of the French word ‘montres’ (watches) and ‘Aebi’…
Today the company has maintained its Swiss character through the quality and reliability of its products. ‘Concept’ development now takes place in Belgium and ‘technical’ development continues in Switzerland. This organisation brings benefits all round: the company draws adaptability, realism, inventiveness, and a desire for accessibility from its local presence.
Using little Belgium as its base, Montebi coaches, develops, distributes and sends the Rodania collections all around the world… with the precision of a Swiss watch.
The experience and expertise the company has acquired allow it to have a clear vision: the Canadian subsidiary founded in 1917 joined the group in 2012, while China and South East Asia also opened their huge markets. Rodania’s key figures: 1.500 points of sale including 600 in Belgium, 850 in France, 180 in Russia.
The name ‘Montebi’ also stands for ‘montres et bijoux’ (watches and jewellery): the Belgian company is very active in these two areas. As well as holding a licence for Olivier Strelli and Kipling watches, it also distributes the watch brands Maurice Lacroix, Michel Herbelin and Timberland. In the jewellery department, Montebi designs and markets the ‘Nona’ silver and gold collections, the ‘Innocence’ jewellery line and ‘Bruce’ men’s collection with the same spirit of quality and accessibility.
The Rodania brand has always been positioned as a watch that respects the essence of watch making. Nevertheless through the years, the brand proved to be contemporary and creative without following every volatile fashion trend. Striving for the best price for quality has always been a prime issue for the company.
- 1930: The Rodania brand was created in the village of Lengnau.
- 1947: Rodania opens distribution centers in Caracas, Montreal, New York, Brussels and London.
- 1951: In the heart of Europe, Brussels becomes the international sales and distribution headquarters.
- 1954: Start of a still ongoing partnership with the cycling sport. Rodania pilot cars clear the roads for major cycling events.
- 1964: Rodania goes to Antarctica. The chief commander of the sixth Belgian expedition to Antarctica wears a Rodania watch during the whole expedition to King Baudouin’s base.
- 1995: A French subsidiary is opened enabling a more efficient support to the French market.
- 2001: Rodania became the Official Timekeeper of the Dakar Rally. Rodania Belgium celebrates its 50 years as international distribution and sales headquarter.
- 2008: Rodania creates Swiss Chic, a collection focused on the watch-making heritage of the brand.
- 2010: Rodania celebrates its 80 years of watchmaking and re-introduces automatic models in its Swiss Chic collection.
- 2011: Rodania keeps on investing in mechanical timepieces and introduces automatic movements in its Mystery ceramic collection.