Swiss Quartz Watches Made in Switzerland
Those familiar with the luxury Swiss watches made by Murex might be surprised to discover that behind these glamorous, often diamond-studded watches lies a story of adversity overcome by talent and tenacity.
The Murex sea snail is the ancient source of Tyrian, or royal, purple dye. First produced by the Phoenicians, it was a symbol of their trading prowess and has long been associated with royalty. Given its association with luxury and with his homeland of Lebanon, Wasfi Taher chose it as the name for his first watch brand.
Wasfi now owns six brands within the Ribawatch Group, but Murex remains close to his heart. Murex was the first brand to come out of the RibaWatch stable – and Baselworld played a part in its creation, (there are now five different brands, each tailored to different markets) and is the embodiment of Swiss quality. Wasfi Taher (CEO of RIBAWATCH) himself remains involved in everything – and every model – from the designs and technical drawings through to samples and production.
“In 1989, I was 21 and I travelled to Zurich to work,” Wasfi recalls. “For two years, I saved the money I earned, then returned to Lebanon to open shops in Beirut selling watches and clocks. It was then I first created my own brand name, Murex, for leather watch straps and set up a distribution business to all the cities of Lebanon.
“I attended Baselworld every year to find new products and this fired my ambition to establish an international watch business. I knew what kind of watches I could sell. So, in 2000, I brought all my capital and experience to set up a company, still Murex, in Switzerland and launched my first collection at Baselworld in 2000.”
That first collection comprised 15 models and did well, so Wasfi launched the company officially. “There were only three of us then, and I bought the tools we needed and set up a little workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds.” These days, Murex is the biggest and most demanding of his brands, making up about 40 per cent of total sales.
“Today, 50 per cent of people in the Middle East are aware of the Murex brand and the Swiss market has grown significantly in the past couple of years. That is what I am really proud of – the fact that I have succeeded in building an international brand.” – Wasfi Taher
Murex specialises in a wide range of fashionable quartz watches, with around 20 new models being introduced each year. Every model is engineered, manufactured and assembled at the RibaWatch factory in Le Locle. In some cases, the craftsmanship and precision involved mean that production can take several months.
The brand has two collections: a fashion collection and a diamond range. The watches, made of stainless steel, may feature different plating, such as rhodium, rose gold, black or white ceramic – as well as mother-of-pearl, diamonds, sapphires and other valuable gems.