Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews Sponsored Post written by Debby Gordon of TemptionUSA for the aBlogtoWatch audience

Herr Klaus Ulbrich founded Temption Watches in 1996 after a career in the corporate environment, including a long career with IBM. I found his story to be so interesting that I wanted to share it with the watch enthusiasts of the world. He is meticulous in his thought processes, his designs, and his attention to detail based on his school of thought.

Temption is one of the few watch manufacturers that actually designs, produces, assembles, and tests its own products. At Temption, Herr Ulbrich will only make 700 watches per year, across multiple models. Some models such as the Temption CGK204 CURARE are limited to 200 in total production.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

I actually sought him out in 1999, to inquire as to if he would be interested in having a presence in the United States and if he would consider my involvement as the Distributor of Temption Watches for the United States. We set up a meeting in Basel during the annual Baselworld fair in 1999. We met and spoke for quite some time and determined that our collaboration would be a great fit. I have German ancestry, knowledge of the language, and also knowledge of the German philosophies and culture.

I hope that this interview will provide you with an insight to the amazing Temption watch collection.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews
Fa. Temption / Klaus Ulbrich, Herrenberg / Foto: Gabriel Holom

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich:

TemptionUSA: What is your educational background?

Klaus Ulbrich: I received my Master's in Mechanical Engineering and studied at Ingenierschule fur Feinwerktechnik Furtwangen, located in Furtwangen, Germany, in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) region. This institute included watch and clock engineering as a specialty study. The Institute also houses an internationally known watch and clock museum and is devoted to the history of timekeeping devices.

An integral part of my education was the design of movements with complications. I was always fascinated by the style and timeless beauty.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

TemptionUSA: When did you actually start Temption and what was your approach in your first designs?

Klaus Ulbrich: I started the firm in 1996, in Herrenberg, Germany. I never sat down and just drafted a watch to be part of the industry, I wanted to base my designs on the schools of wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and modesty, and Bauhaus, founded in Germany in 1919, which sought to level the distinction between the fine and applied arts, to reunite creativity and manufacturing. Both of these schools ensure a timeless design which lasts for an unlimited time and items according to their design rules stay state-of-the-art.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

TemptionUSA: What exactly are the ground rules of these two schools that you incorporate into each watch?

Klaus Ulbrich: Each design must include the following:

  • Simplicity
  • Less is more
  • Form follows function
  • The dials are simple; easy to read, ergonomic, and the date window is always the same color of the dial.
  • High contrast between the hands and the dial.
  • Hidden logo as, in our point of view, a dominant logo spoils the ergonomics of the dial.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

TemptionUSA: What watch shows did you attend and what models were in your first collection?

Klaus Ulbrich: In 1997, we attended some smaller shows, but our first Baselworld was in 1998. At that time, we had the CM03, CG103, and CGK203 in the showcase. They did very well, and for several years they were manufactured without any changes.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews
Fa. Temption / Klaus Ulbrich, Herrenberg / Foto: Gabriel Holom

TemptionUSA: What challenges did you encounter in the production of each model and how did you overcome them?

Klaus Ulbrich: I always designed the watches quite carefully and slowly via CAD (computer-aided design). Frankly, I never ran into any technical challenges. However, I am sometimes very slow, and most models took almost a year until the design was completed. It takes not only the CAD design work, but each model grows within the brain. It was many nights of lying in bed, making notes about the model, and fine tuning the details within the brain until everything came together.

Interview With Klaus Ulbrich Of Temption Watches By TemptionUSA ABTW Interviews

TemptionUSA: How long do you test each watch for accuracy and what are your measures?

Klaus Ulbrich: New movements behave quite differently. Some are solid and no deviations occur. Some fluctuate and differ by time and need several adjustments. Therefore, test duration differs between 4 days and two weeks. Our goal is a daily accuracy of +4 to +6 seconds per day, and no single minus data within the five-position model.

  • The promotional photos look like low-res scans of inkjet printouts.

  • word-merchant

    I do like his thinking regarding ergonomics and aesthetic touches – but I’m afraid the end result doesn’t hit the spot for me.

    It might be too much to ask but I’d love it if some of these smaller brands actually came up with their own movements, I do get a little tired of reading about yet another Valjoux/ETA/Soprod based watch: they do all end up looking very similar due to constraints of movement size and layout and you know they’ll all suffer with the same cheap, noisy and choppy winding and setting experience.

    • Sure thing – every small brand just needs to have a million buck laying around to develop and industrialize their own movement (that a rough figure I’ve heard and have no reason to doubt). Personally, I have not noticed any difference in setting and winding an ETA movement compared to in-house calibers in $10K+ watches from big name Swiss brands.

      • word-merchant

        It’s that sort of thinking the leads to the plethora of me-too micro brand watches we have today with identical dial layouts and horrible date window positioning. In these days of cheap and accessible CAD software, flexible manufacturing and increasing customer boredom with the status quo, surely now’s the time for an independent watch manufacturer (or even a group of them) to really try something new. Open source the design, open it up to collaboration across the world, who knows what might come of it?

        I’m certainly not saying that designing a movement is easy: I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin, either with the design or the financing thereof. But then I don’t claim to be a watch manufacturer.

        I just don’t think it’s good enough any more to put standard off-the-shelf mass produced cheap movements made by a faceless company in new cases, charge thousands, and proclaim you’re adding something useful to the art of horology.

        • By your analogy then only Apple and Intel should be making personal computers. BTW, years Compaq became a very successful PC maker by innovating in packaging of the functionality of the IBM PC (as a portable computer). So there is lots of room to improve on any item without having to redefine every part.

          If the barriers to entry of production movements ever becomes low enough, we may well see every watch brand making their own movements (either themselves or under contract by out-sourcing to “parts” factories like is often done today for custom cases, dials and hands). But so far the design and more importantly, the ability to industrialize and produce reliable movements in quantities at competitive prices remains an elusive goal for anyone who does not very deep pockets coupled with a large enough market to actually sell what they produce.

          As far as groups of independents banding together to produce a movement, that would again produce movements common to many brands and no “innovation” that you seek. Sure they could join together but why bother when you have Sellita, Soprod, TechoTime, STP and Ronda as Swiss 3rd party movement suppliers to say nothing of Chinese movements (which have lower perceived value) for production of 3 hand plus date movements (which is where the market largely is anyway).

      • iamcalledryan

        A million bucks is conservative as I understand it. While I am sure that the abolition of third party movements would kill off a lot of awful brands, it would also take some surprisingly lovely scalps too, and the barriers to entry would mean less choice (no surprise) but also less value for your buck. You would have a small handful generating enough output to charge less than $5k for a basic three hander.

  • cg

    Is that all it takes to be a distributor! Know German and Germany? How’s that working here in the States? LMAO! How’s the U.S. marketing campaign going since 1999…. and why is it I haven’t heard of Temption as a high end consumer? Since 1999…. Unbelievable!

    • Deb

      It is s boutique watch and very few made. Herr Ulbrich preferred not to spend a lot on advertising. If you know the watch it sells itself. I am the distributor and have done quite well with our method of marketing. I know a little more than German or Germany!

  • Bert Kanne

    The Temption website does not inspire customer confidence. Watch model specifications given are very brief and incomplete. In addition, it looks like a potential buyer needs to post their information before even knowing what the pricing structure is. Both of these issues are serious red flags!

    • I noticed that too. No prices or even info on the werks (as opposed to their list of distributors in other countries). And while I never expected them to make their own movements, they are very cursory in mentioning the movements on their spec pages.

    • frustin

      you think that’s bad, the “manual” is 2 pages, but the (CGK205) watch is beautiful.

  • Bill W

    Dude, everyone knows you can’t spell temptation without t & a.

    • iamcalledryan

      Top shelf.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Ask anyone…………..i can’t be doing with pointy knobbly watches.

    • iamcalledryan

      LOL – I thought I had found the perfect buddy for Raymond, before realizing that you had just changed your avatar.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        just updated, still me : )

  • Timestandsstill

    I have been following this brand for about 10 years and IMHO these are some of the better 7750 based chronographs produced and case work is very good as well. Prices are actually quite fair. Sure, it’s not a high profile brand and not a manufacture movement but at an output of about 700 watches a year you don’t get all that or brand ambassadors and notoriety either. This is not a Kickstarter or newbie watch company and the fact that they have been around this long surely speaks to something.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Frankly, it is the discovery of hidden gems such as this that keeps my interest in the hobby; and keeps me coming back to ABTW. Both the marques covered and the comments by knowledgable persons on the board.
    I would like to see a bit more info about this marques, i.e., what is done to the movements? pricing? duarability? etc.?
    But I suspect this is somewhat proprietary as this is, according to the interview, “his baby.”

    I like the Cameo and its elegance. As to the rest, they have obvious DNA similarities that give evidence of their design success.
    A throrough review of this brand by Mr. Adams, or one of his very knowledgable crew, would certainly make entertaining, and I think enlightening, reading.

    Now about that motto….?

  • frustin

    i just bought a CGK205. It’s my first automatic after a 14 year old kirium tag.

    it took a while to get used to the “fatness” of it and its a heavy beast with the metal strap. I wasn’t planning on getting a chronograph but i loved the brand.

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