Cimier Timesquare Chronograph (Review) – Swiss brand owned by scam artists?

Today we are going to talk about a watch from an old brand called Cimier. The name of the company can be traced back to 1924. In 1925, the first ads from a company Lapanouse SA appeared, featuring Swiss watches under the brand name CIMIER. The company had been founded the year before by the watchmaker R. Lapanouse in Hölstein, a small and structurally weak town in the canton Baselland. The comfortably manageable family enterprise had been producing the so-called “Roskopf” watches since its relocation to the neighbouring Bubendorf. This type of watch originates from the watchmaker Georg Friedrich Roskopf, who lived 1813 – 1889. He developed very robust and exceptionally reasonably priced clockworks, featuring vertically standing steel pins instead of the usual stone palettes for the time scaling. Further characteristics were the economic pillar construction, a light balance wheel, the relatively thick balance shaft as protection against breakage, and comparatively few jewels.

In 1951, as the branch was gradually recovering from the aftermath of the Second World War, Lapanouse SA managed to stand out with exceptionally good results. A new range of wrist watches was presented, with gold plated or chromed casings, still featuring the successful pin lever movement from the company’s own production. The CIMIER brand, now also reflected in the new company name LAPANOUSE-CIMIER, set out to capture the world. In English, CIMIER means “Crest” (as in the decoration on a helmet), and this melodious name was to be understood as a symbol for the combination of elegance and stability. The age of the beginning economic boom demanded more striking and distinctive wrist watches, and CIMIER launched pieces with luminescent numerals, center second, as well as a novel chronograph.

The company’s pioneer role in this field was to pay off: The striking timepieces were sold very successfully worldwide, and even the company’s stationery proudly announced: “Production of 5000 watches daily”. An incredible 1,5 million watches were produced yearly by the 500 employees in Bubendorf. The key markets at that time were the USA and Europe, as well as South America, Australia, and South Africa.

In the 1970s, pulsating quartz crystals were introduced to the watch industry by Japanese. Lapanouse SA applied itself to this new technology and once again adopted a pioneer role in developing its own quartz movement. In a risky transaction, a large part of the production machines was sold to a competitor at the beginning of the 80s, who was henceforth to be a supplier of the company. This outsourcing measure, however, did not result in the expected reduction of production costs. On the contrary; due to the now costly purchase of movements, Lapanouse-Cimier clearly suffered a competitive disadvantage when it came to competitors from abroad, and particularly when it came to the important new domestic player. Disaccord within the owner family concerning the future strategy and the choice of a successor to head the enterprise finally lead to the provisional production shut-down in one of the largest Swiss watch manufactures in 1985.

CIMIER today Since 2003, the long-standing tradition of the brand is being carried toward the future by a young team with experience in different Swiss watch manufactures. The most prominent characteristics of a CIMIER are still high-class workmanship, the remarkable design and an affordable price. The CIMIER atelier in Zug (Central Switzerland) not only designs and develops these exclusive timepieces, but also manufactures them in finest handcraft. But somewhere in the middle or actually from the 2003 the owners are the Indian company QNET which is basically a pyramid scheme that rip’s off people. QNET in Europe has many lawsuits and bad reputation just like the watches they sell. Basic principle of this ponzi scheme is that to get into QNET you need to buy something at their shop (watches, cosmetic or something else) and when it comes to watches they are usually a overpriced Chinese garbage that is positioned as luxury watch from Switzerland or either Germany. And Cimier is one of those brands, although from everything I can read and by their Watch Academy where you can assemble the watch at their school they seem to be more legit than other companies QNET owns.

The Cimier brand also kind of is strange because when you google “Cimier watches” or “Cimier Swiss” or even the model of the watch I chose there is no results on any of the pages for a website (at the time of writing the article there was no website, right now it is back again). There is so little information about this brand actually that it may seem that they don’t even exist haha. But anycase I just wanted to check the brand out and inform you, the watch enthusiasts. The model I chose is the Cimier Timesquare Chronograph, but there was also GMT and Retrograde version and there is also some round watches too.

The watch came actually in a very big and beautiful box. Outer is a black cardboard box with Cimier logo on top. Inside there is a wooden box with a pretty awful design choice on the sides with those fabric inlays (just my personal designer’s opinion). Under the box we have instructions manual which is printed even for digital watches that Cimier don’t even make (bad attention to details), warranty card and cleaning cloth. Inside the box we have the watch. The first impressions were good, but at closer inspection under the microscope there are a lot of problems with this watch!

The case of the watch is made 316L stainless steel. The case is actually pretty well made and is in par with watches that cost as much. The high polished finishing is also really good with no imperfections. The case shape is square with short lugs. The case is 42mm wide (without crown guards), the thickness is 15,5mm, from lug tip to lug tip is measures at 49mm and the lug width is 22mm. Overall the dimensions aren’t bad, I quite like that on paper the watch is big, but it wears much smaller! At 3 o’clock we have a push-pull signed crown with crownguards and two integrated pushers for chronograph on each side. The crown action is ok-ish, it feels a bit too stiff as it should be for this movement. On the top of the watch sits a domed sapphire crystal with some AR coating that kind of doesn’t help. On the back we have an exhibition case back that is held on with 4 small screws. The crystal in the case back is a flat mineral crystal which is very strange because at the price point of close to 2000 euros this should be a sapphire. The watch is rated at 5ATM (50m), but after I gave the watch to my watchmaker who tested it in a professional watchmakers pressure tester it didn’t pass the test, it leaks from the caseback due to only 4 screws holding it.

The dial is pretty cool actually, but again not executed to the level of how much the watch costs. Around the dial we have a white minute track, then a black portion with circular pattern, then a round second’s track in silver colour. The applied hour markers are polished in silver colour with edges that reflect the light nicely. Then we have the standart ETA 7750 layout with three subdials and day/date window. The hour and minute hands are partially skeletonized with lume. I like the broad arrow hour hand actually. The second’s hand for the chronograph is red and contrasts well with the blue colour of the subdial and the yellow strap I’ve put on it. The problem with the dial is that under a microscope there were some hairs and fingerpints on the hands. And also some spots of something that were visible without a microscope.

The movement inside the Timesquare is the Valjoux/ETA 7750. Cimier took the time to customize the rotor with black colour and Cimier logo. The Valjoux 7750 is a Swiss Made Manual/Self-Winding Automatic Chronograph movement. 25 jewels, 28,800 V.P.H and 40-hour power reserve. Overall this is a solid movement. Almost every big company in the watch industry uses this movement this way or higher grade modified one, as they have proven their reliability and quality over the years. There, of course, are some problems like the noisy rotor or that it is very thick movement. The rotor problem can be eliminated by adding a tiny bit of oil to the bearing of the rotor and it after that spins more quietly. But the thickness is what it is. But when I showed my watchmaker the watch he immediatelly pointed out that the movement looks like it is either a fake or have been through hell! Why did my watchmaker thinks that? Well first of all the parts of the movement are very badly finished, not like it should be and how my watchmaker have seen them all. Also the screws are quite different, not the original ones that should be there and there are a lot of dirt in the movement (hairs, some skin particles, dust etc.). I actually gave the watch to my watchmaker to open it up and test if the everything is what he saw through just the loupe from case back. Well the first was that the movement needs full service as it runs poorly and is super dirty, but as this is just sent in for review I didn’t bother to ask this from my watchmaker. The screws are wrong in two places, they are not original ones. Movement has all the right ETA stamps, but still he is quite skeptical if it is a real movement or franken-movement as some bridges/plates/parts are poorly made and finished. ETA usually is flawless. And how do you think it ran after all these problems were discovered? Well this example ran at +40 seconds a day, yes, 40!!!! And the amplitude was way off from how it should be. How can a new watch with ETA 7750 can run this badly, this just shows why there is so little info about the company.

The strap, well, another chinese crocodile print special. The strap is black with contrasting white stitching and crocodile print. The underside is lined with soft beige material and is signed with Cimier logo. The strap is super stiff, like really stiff, even after a month of wearing it and in the end I decided to put it on a much better and super supple yellow strap from German company Di-Modell. The original strap also was kind of falling apart at the ends where it goes into lugs. The good part of the strap is porbably the clasp which I liked a lot, but sadly couldn’t find straps to fit right for it. The clasp has a nice Cimier logo on top and it is beefy and has a polished finishing. The clasp is very safe and locking mechanism works well! Clasp is all machined from a 316L stainless steel.

Overall the watch isn’t that much of a disaster if it would’ve costed about 5 times less. If Cimier and the name owners want to position this brand as something close to luxury, they should raisw their quality control, filters in the rooms where watchmakers assemble the watch so there is no dust, check the qualification of the watchmakers and also raise the quality of everything overall. I have had some watches that cost 5 times less and are perfect, even the watchmaker that checked this said: “who sent this garbage?, you have had a lot better watches for less in for review!” and this just tells something. Also as social media expert for some watch stores and brands I can say that they need to invest also some part of the money in their social media, google and web presence overall. I googled their name, watches name or anything and there is no site, it just shows their watch academy! (at the time of writing the article there was no website, right now it is back again, but still it doesn’t show up on google). Also when asking around in watch forums if anybody has had or heard of their watches in the last 10 years and only a couple of people responded that yes, but vaguealy. Overall the watch has a potential in my opinion, but everything that I pointed out needs to change for them to be taken seriously, because now it looks like Invicta, Stuhrling or any other brand that makes watches poorly with QC issues and markets them for many thousands. Back in the day when the company started they were something in Swiss industry they were inovative and they had potential and heritage, now it is just a rebought brand name by some corporation in Asia and ran by people who have probably no interest in horology as art, but rather a money making machine.

Price: 2’490.00 CHF @ cimier.com

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