This smaller maker is moving its brand upmarket using inhouse components It is neither the largest nor the longest established of Swiss watch brands, but the past few years have been good to Jean Richard and it has grown rapidly. 'Asia, and particularly China, has been the driving force for growth,' said sales and marketing manager Michel Santschi. 'The brand is moving more towards the manufacture of our own movements and more ladies' watches.' This, he said, was helping the company move its watches into a higher price bracket. 'This is not just a question of price,' he said. 'It's a question of product.' This year sees the release of the company's first manual movement in a ladies' watch and a minute repeater, and Mr Santschi said the brand would have its first chronograph ready by 2007. The company had also decided to become '100 per cent Swiss made', he said and would no longer be importing any components from the Far East. He said this was 'entirely for prestige' purposes. Many consumers were willing to pay more for a watch that bore the 'Swiss Made' stamp. As a smaller, independent brand, Jean Richard could represent 'difference, freedom, rarity and original features', he said. That allowed the brand to appeal to a certain type of consumer. 'Our watches are not gift watches. People don't buy Jean Richard watches as gifts, they buy them for themselves,' he said. 'It's about identity, not fashion. There is no age limit and there are no social restrictions.' The big innovation in Jean Richard's men's collection this year is the Paramount Square. With a slightly larger case than last year, the watch has been fitted with the brand's in-house movement. While men's watches accounted for 60 per cent of the brand's business, Mr Santschi said changing trends were influencing that balance. 'Women are wearing larger watches now. It's getting harder to say something is definitely a men's or a ladies' watch.' New for the brand's ladies' collection for this year is the Four Elements series. Each element is represented with settings in different precious stones: sapphires for water; pure-white diamonds for air; brownish-red pyropes for earth; rubies for fire.