A small, independent watchmaker from Tessin in Switzerland, Alfex produces timepieces in close cooperation with prominent designers and rising young talents.
Since its establishment, Alfex has worked to stand out on the watchmaking landscape through a strong focus on design, respect for the criteria of Swiss quality and mid-range pricing. An in-house design team makes this combination possible, so that today Alfex may continue to follow the vision of its founder, Ferdinand Gindraux. In 1948, Gindraux created the company with the goal of creating a brand that would revolutionise the traditional conception of timepieces.
It was in 1948 that Ferdinand Gindraux realized his childhood dream, founding the watch brand Ferex SA in the city of Lugano, in the canton of Ticino. His wish, which was to be fulfilled through his work as a representative for a watchmaking house in the period between the two world wars, was to create a brand combining elegance, originality and innovation. His choice of the city of Lugano as his company’s headquarters, instead of the canton of Jura, the home of watchmaking par excellence, shows his desire to break with tradition.
Gindraux’s intuition was right on the mark, and Ferex was a huge commercial success. It immediately took on an international slant, finding its key market in the United States, where it opened its first subsidiary.
In the 1960s, Ferex merged with the Economic Swiss Time group of Basel, which was then bought out by SSIH, the owner of major names in Swiss watchmaking like Omega and Tissot. Yet, this collaboration did not provide the hoped-for support and Gindraux decided to leave the group, founding a new independent company.
Thus, Alfex SA was born in 1974, placed under the management of Alfa Grosa, Gindraux’s long-time employee, and Paul Perlmutter, former representative in the USA. The name Alfex comes from the fusion of the names Alfa and Ferex.
The brand-new company was ready to reintroduce itself. In the early 1980s, the Roskopf manual movement, which had been used in its watches, was replaced with a quartz movement. And in 1981 Hans Saurer took the reins of the company, shifting its focus entirely to design, following its founder’s wishes.
In the period between 1983 and 1987, the brand produced and launched particularly important models, like the “Royal Air Force Watch”, created in collaboration with the British Museum, a model with the lunar phases and one decorated with crystals.
1986 saw the beginning of a fruitful and prestigious collaboration with Dior, as licensee. At the time, this represented an absolute first in the watchmaking sector. Alfex created 30 models for the Parisian fashion house, each available in editions of about 6 500. Other similar collaborations would follow with Borbonese and Disney in the wake of this success.
Alfex began working with well-known designers in 1994. This choice led the company to win numerous international awards in the 1990s and 2000s, like the “Red Dot Award”, by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen in Hamburg and the “Good Design Award”, the oldest and most prestigious design competition, presented by the Chicago Anthenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.
In 2005, Alfex re-joined the small circle of brands representing Switzerland at the world fair in Aichi, Japan: based on the mountain theme chosen for the fair, the brand proposed a collection called “Cervino” inspired by Switzerland and the Alps’ symbolic mountain peak: the Matterhorn.
This marriage between Alfex and the mountains was also expressed in 2007 through cooperation with Alpine ski champion Bernhard Russi who designed a “capsule collection” for Alfex composed of two models inspired by the mountains of Andermatt, his home region: Badus and Lucendo. Russi is also spokesman for the brand.
With the aim of discovering and training young talents, Alfex launched a competition in 2007 for the students of the prestigious Swiss design school HEAA ARC promising to produce the winning design. Thus, two new models, Curl Lines and Waves Lines were born. The positive experience was repeated in 2009.
2008 was a particularly important year for the company, which celebrated its 60th anniversary. To mark the occasion, 25 representatives from 13 different countries were invited to visit the headquarters and the ateliers in Lugano. The occasion was also marked by the launch of the Giant Alarm Pezzola model, part of the Bernhard Russi Collection.
The unique PWP1-11 automatic movement was presented at Baselworld in 2012, marking winds of change at the company. In 2011, with the arrival of Marcus Weber at the company’s head as CEO and majority shareholder, following a collaboration that began in 2005, Alfex is living another time of major change and innovation. In 2013, Alfex celebrated its 65th birthday and launched its brand repositioning project to focus more on design, Alfex’s major strength.
- 1948: Ferdinand Gindraux founds Ferex SA in Lugano, in the canton of Ticino.
- 1960s: Ferex merges with the group Economic Swiss Time of Basil, which is then taken over by SSIH (Omega, Tissot group).
- 1974: The Ferex brand is bought back by Gindraux which assigns it to Alfa Grosa, its long-time employee and Paul Perlmutter; the brand is reborn with the name Alfex.
- 1981: CEO Hans U. Saurer refocuses the brand on design.
- 1983: The “Royal Air Force Watch” model is produced in collaboration with the British Museum.
- 1985: Launch of a new model with the lunar phases.
- 1986: Collaboration begins with Dior: 30 different models, sold in 6 500 pieces per model. Collaborations with Borbonese and Disney follow.
- 1994: Cooperation begins with internationally renowned designers.
- 1996: For the first time, Alfex wins the “Red Dot Award”, established by Design Zentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen of Hamburg.
- 1997/1998: Alfex wins the “Red Dot Award” again.
- 2000: Alfex wins the “Good Design Award” from Chicago Anthenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.
- 2003/2004: Alfex wins the “Good Design Award” again.
- 2005: Alfex participates in the world fair in Aichi Japan, presenting its limited-edition “Cervino” model.
- 2007: Brand spokesperson, Alpine ski champion Bernhard Russi creates the Badus and Lucendo watches for Alfex. The same year, Alfex works with the Swiss applied arts school HEAA ARC for the first time.
- 2008: The brand celebrates its 60th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it presents the “Giant Alarm Pezzola” model, part of the Bernhard Russi Collection.
- 2009: Second collaboration with the Swiss applied arts school HEAA ARC.
- 2011: Marcus Weber becomes CEO and majority shareholder.
- 2012: The new automatic watch with the unique PWP1- 11 movement is launched at Baselworld.
- 2013: Alfex celebrates its 65th anniversary and launches a new brand repositioning strategy, focussing strongly on design, the brand’s core value.
Official website: https://www.alfex.ch