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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.