Michele Watches (Est. 2000 – ) While Michele Watches was officially established at the beginning of the 21st Century and acquired by the Fossil Group in 2004, its legacy and lineage date back to the mid-twentieth century. In Belgium in the 1940’s, Maurice Barouh became enthralled by watches and was inspired to build and create enticing designs. He saw timepieces as more than simply a way to tell time. To him, they represented a sense of style.
From the beginning, Michele Watches were characterized by the glamorous, vibrant style of a luxury watch brand. They were also expressions of refinement that reflected Maurice’s commitment to craftsmanship, styling and quality.
Maurice’s passion for creating magnificent timepieces proved contagious and he passed it to his son Jack Barouh. Jack worked in Latin American markets and became known for his individuality. His dedication to every element of watches attracted the attention of people in the area. He devoted his attention to every detail that distinguished the timepieces he created from other luxury brands.
When Jack and his wife Rita had their first child, they named her Michele and that became the name of the watches we know today. At first, Jack and Rita created children’s watches as a way for their daughter to tell time. The watches were bright, colorful, and lively. To the surprise and delight of Michele’s parents, these children’s watches were a hit.
The success of the children’s line gave Jack and Rita the confidence to begin thinking about starting to build a brand. As the Barouh children (Michele and her brother, Jeremy) grew up in Miami, Florida, it became clear that that the family passions, interests, and dedication would also appear in a third generation. Consequently, in 2000, the family decided to launch their company and presented the first Michele Watch (MW) collection.
The first creations featured the CSX-Diamond Chronographs and continued their string of successful models. It was ultimately this collection that propelled the company to fame in the United States.
In 2004, Jack decided to merge his company with Fossil giving Michele Watches greater position in the global watch industry. However, even after Michele Watches became part of a large, publicly-traded company, it continued to operate as a family business with design and business decisions made by the Barouh family in partnership with Fossil.
On its website, Fossil states that Michele Watches are “For the woman who celebrates life’s moments, both big and small. … Featuring hand-set diamonds, mother-of-pearl dials and signature touches, the MICHELE collection creates chic, timeless watches … with adaptable straps made of exotic and luxurious materials…”
Cloette Fleur Diamond is the company’s most original watch. Made of stainless steel, its mother-of-pearl dial is covered with a sapphire glass. The model is decorated with 122 brilliants, and a bezel is done with flowers assembled of these precious stones.
The company’s other designs embrace elaborate, individual styles that visually distinguish one product from another. Cases have square, round, barrel-shaped and rectangular forms. Metal bracelets and leather straps complement the cases and are often made of alligator, python or calf leather.
The company offers many watch lines including Deco, Ceramic, Urban, Caber, CSX, Jetway, Sport Sail, and Tahitian JellyBeans in addition to Cloette Fleur. Each line has its own “spirit” and “nature.”
Almost all models are encrusted with sparkling brilliants in the colors of the rainbow that give an aristocratic look to the watches. The Deco Day Diamond Tri-Tone is made of a combination of steel, yellow and rose gold. The front glass is sapphire crystal. The bezel is encrusted with 120 brilliants. The model is water-resistant to 50 meters and is currently priced at just over $2000.
Watches in the Urban line are intended for active city people. The gilded Urban Mini Diamond Gold watch is decorated with 116 brilliants. Straps of different colors attach to it. This provides for easy replacement that can change into a gilded bracelet. The sports watch, called Sport Sail, is designed for people who lead an active lifestyle.
Michele watches are built of high-quality materials, equipped with Swiss-made movements made by Tempus, a company that Jack Barouh founded and of which he remains president. Tempus manufactures, markets, and distributes the MW and MW Michele watch brands. Tempus maintains offices in Miami and Geneva, Switzerland.
Michele Barouh is the company’s creative director and brings a younger, somewhat whimsical perspective to the collections. She has shown instinctive understanding of the balance between developing the brand and keeping the company on the cutting edge of fashion. One of her major contributions was the design and launch of Michele watches with interchangeable bands, a development that made an impression on the fashion world as well as the watch making community.
Michele studied at Sotheby’s Institute earning a Master’s degree in art and business. She now serves as the creative force behind the manufacture, creativity, design, and retail marketing of the company.
Today, Michele Watches is a $50 million business. In addition to their color schemes and beautiful designs, Michele watches are also known for their functionality and craftsmanship. Michele Barouh remains the dynamic force behind the brand, keeping Michele Watches consistently at the cutting edge of international fashion trends.