Saturday, June 6, 2015

ZRC – Introduction and History

Since 1904, passion has been passed down from generation to generation within a single family. A designer and creator of watch straps for 110 years; ZRC is committed to an innovative and environmentally responsible approach.

The brand's admirable industrial adventure, based on over a century of experience, now allows it to devote this expertise to men's and women's fashion. With its international team of designers, ZRC strives to enchant its clients with original creations. Women's and men's jewelry, watch straps and leather goods, ZRC meets the needs of its clients.

1884: Joseph Rochet was born in Annecy (France). Orphaned, he left for Paris at the age of 13, where he would become a jewelry apprentice and learn his trade. He married before the war and moved with his wife to Switzerland, where he found work in a factory producing watch chains. A talented worker, he quickly became head laborer and made friends with workshop manager Edmond Zuccolo.

1904: The two men eventually formed a partnership, founding Zuccolo Rochet in Geneva in 1904. True prodigies, they invented the very first extendable watch straps, for which they filed patents and were rewarded with the first prize for innovation in Geneva in 1917. During the First World War, Switzerland was blockaded, requiring them to relocate to France, and more precisely Annecy, the only town near Geneva equipped with a municipal gas network, which was absolutely essential for welding. As Edmond Zuccolo was an anarchist, he could not go to France.

1917: In 1917, the Zuccolo Rochet Company was established in Geneva and Annecy.

1925: The founders bought land and built a factory in Annecy, which led to the closure of their factory in Geneva. They went on to develop gold-plated jewelry under the brand name Orideal.

1947: Joseph Rochet’s daughter married Louis Brunet, who joined the business when Edmond Zuccolo retired. ZRC expanded into watch straps, watch cases and jewelry, and in 1947, decided to create a dedicated sales force to finally establish a sales network with watchmakers, jewelers and goldsmiths.

1950 – 1960: Georgette Rochet, wife of the founder, took the chair of Zuccolo Rochet & Cie and appointed Louis Brunet as General Manager. As a leading specialist in watch subcontracting, ZRC built up a strong reputation among industry professionals in the 1940s and 50s. ZRC was one of the few companies capable of incorporating the whole process of watch case and strap production in-house. Naturally, the idea to create a diving watch was born, in order to meet the needs of the professional divers of Lake Annecy for a robust, accurate and reliable watch. The legendary Grands Fonds 300 M was created, and was used by the French Navy from 1963 to 1974.

1969: When Louis Brunet retired, his son Patrick took over the reins of the business, with a focus on developing exports.

1974: The Annecy factory employed 350 people, but the first oil crisis caused problems within the company. As the fashion for gold plate was passing, prices were rising and sales falling. Steel arrived and became à la mode.

1980: This decade saw the transfer of production to Hong Kong, and the acquisition of Laminor, a producer of silver jewelry. With the advent of leather, ZRC decided to develop its leather activities and created the Sibra factory in Besançon. Its leather straps proved a huge success and the takeover of their main competitor quickly guaranteed them the role of market leader. The two brands Rochet and ZRC coexisted.

1990: Following this success, a second production site was created in India (two factories, 600 employees).

2005: It should be noted that the wives of the directors have always played an important role in the company. Between 1987 and 2004, Catherine Brunet, Patrick’s wife, was responsible for ZRC’s sales management. In 2004, Catherine retired from the company, followed by Patrick in 2005, handing the management over to their two sons, Charles and Georges.

2012: Launch of the women’s silver jewelry range.

2014: Repositioning of the ZRC brand.

2015: Re-edition of the Grands Fonds watch.

Born of a fabulous family adventure, ZRC had a duty to re-establish links with its past, by re-launching the original brand and the spirit behind it, taking into account its environment, concessionaries and clients. It was Charles and Georges Brunet, the fourth generation of the founders, who made this decision.

Whether it be their own family history or that of their clients, an observation must be made, we all experience adventures, large and small, which punctuate our personal, professional and family paths. Whether we are subjected to or bring about these life moments destined to endure in our minds, it is good to mark them. Whether commemorating a small triumph or a great adventure, men and women find reason to buy an object to mark this stage, transition or memory.

This is why ZRC has decided to accompany its clients through the big and small adventures of life that forge our identities. By adopting LA VIE EST AVENTURES as its signature, ZRC asserts its ability to adapt to a changing world, varying fashions and shifting sentiments.

The Grands Fonds 300 watch
In the early 1960s, Louis Brunet and the Annecy diving team, with the support of local figures such as Louis Servetaz and Mr. Bouchet, launched plans for an affordable and efficient diving watch. ZRC sales supervisor Mr. Bourdarian worked alongside Mr. Pastre and Mr. Digne, then watchmakers in Toulon, who specialized in commercial relations with the French Navy. Together, they formed a partnership to develop the Grands Fonds 300 watch. Following its referencing of the first watch, the French Navy explained to the designers that the crown located at 3 o’clock posed a problem, as it was too vulnerable during underwater manipulations. It asked ZRC to « find a solution » to protect the crown without impeding wrist movement, and above all, to ensure it could not open under water. The team resumed their work and developed the famous crown at 6 o’clock, connected to the case using an exclusive system consisting of a machined canon, making the Grands Fonds the first and only watch to be equipped with a 100% single-piece case. Furthermore, the case is machined from a particular type of steel reinforced with magnesium that is completely non-magnetic: an absolute necessity for the mine clearance divers of the French Navy.
ZRC developed an exclusive retractable lug specific to the space between the horns, which only allows the crown to pass through or the strap to rotate in the closed position, making submerging the watch impossible if the crown is not fully screwed down. The strap is also original by virtue of its two extendable links, allowing the watch to be worn over a diving suit with no further adjustments. The ultra-luminescent Magnum hands ensure perfect legibility when diving. A revolutionary watch in many ways, the ZRC Grands Fonds was issued to the Paris fire service and the French waterskiing team. But it was above all the watch of the French Navy (Toulon diving school, third division of Toulon mine clearance divers, Hubert commando).

A diving watch designed by divers, it was also  adopted by non-military units supported by the French Navy, including the famous Calypso of Commander Cousteau, which took the watch around the world and firmly established its reputation. In 2015 ZRC released a new Swiss-made re edition of this revolutionary watch.
Watch Straps Collection
Extremely exacting when it comes to the selection of skins, ZRC uses leather from France and Italy. It works with the best tanneries and monitors every stage of leather production, from tanning to cutting, to ensure exceptional leather. ZRC uses leathers produced using vegetable and mineral tanning, which preserves the intrinsic qualities of each procedure. Selecting the finest leathers, cutting the precious selections, assembly, paring, creasing, stitching... A total of almost sixty operations are carried out by the expert hands of master leatherworkers. Every material used meets the expected standards and reinforces the quality of the products. Such commitment is a guarantee of luxurious straps that are comfortable, resistant and quite simply timeless. Whether produced on a large scale or for a special order, ZRC invests the very same energy and passion, revealing the true meaning of the word « quality ».

ZRC can personalize one of the straps from its range on request. The choice of colours, finishes, size and stitching, not forgetting the wide range of skins are available. Lizard, crocodile, alligator, python, tegu, ostrich, drummed calfskin – the most noble of skins are worked with the greatest care. With its two prototype centers and its complete control over the production chain, ZRC is able to cater for all requests: individually producing a stocked product from the standard range or one adaptable to a different finish (special production with existing tool = FST), or creating a unique piece that is not available on the market (hand-made special production = FSH/prototyping). As a characteristic inherent to the materials and artisanal production methods used, the quality of ZRC straps simply comes as standard.

New Head Quarters
In November 2012, the headquarters of Zuccolo Rochet France was relocated to new 2700m² premises in Parc Altaïs, in Chavanod near Annecy. This modern and highly functional infrastructure enables the Group to establish its positioning and continue its strategic development. From logistics and stock processes to sales administration, shipping, and more, everything has been designed to optimize production times and the efficiency of the whole chain. A workshop with a cutting area, point-of-sale material assembly and paint booths has been created, affirming ZRC's position as market leader in watch straps and in its standard and made-to-measure promotional environment. ZRC has even entirely reproduced a store environment within the premises, providing the perfect setting in which to test its newly launched products and store window designs before sending them to its network of distributors.

Contact details
Zuccolo Rochet France
Parc Altaïs - 6rue Saturne
74650 Chavanod

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