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That’s What Friends Are For

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Two figures with prominent roles in Bedat & Co.’s launch in 1996 and subsequent meteoric rise have reunited with Jay Vullings rejoining Dino Modolo. Vullings came back to the company last October following a four-year absence after serving as North America President from 1996 to 2008. Modolo is considered one of the industry’s top designers and is the brand’s creative director.

The two trace their friendship back to watchmaker Raymond Weil in the ‘80s. Both were there at the beginning when Christian Bedat and his mother Simone left Raymond Weil to start the namesake watch company. An invitation from Modolo to Vullings at a trade show to come see what he was doing and give some feedback led to the duo reuniting.

The long and winding road for the brand included Bedat’s sale to the then Gucci Group in 2000 after Tom Ford took notice of the hot, women’s focused watch company. Despite having a relatively small sales volume of $12 million Christian Bedat was featured on the cover of Forbes, and Gucci’s worldwide network offered the promise of even faster expansion. In 2006 the Bedats departed the company, and in 2009 it was sold by PPR (known now as Kering) to Malaysia based Luxury Concepts.

With Luxury Concepts deep-pocketed backer Francis Yeo (estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.8 billion) the brand has seen success in Asia but is trying to get buzz back in the important U.S. market.

Vullings believes the brand’s focus on women’s watches make it appealing, with watches for women still often being an afterthought for many brands or merely an adoption of a men’s watch.

During a conversation at Baselworld 2013 Modolo and Vullings said they believe they can again make the brand a preferred choice of elite travelers with a range of price points from the low thousands to one of a kind six figure show stoppers.

With the trend for big brands to open their own boutiques and cut back on independent retailers, Vullings and Modolo are focused on building a network of some “100 to 125 doors” in North America. Florida based Levinson Jewelers has already signed on, according to the sales boss, who says his goal is to be in the “best of the best.”

When did he know he would be rejoining his long-term friend for a second run at Bedat? Vullings said when Modolo showed him his current day interpretations of the Bedat designs that made the company such a hot commodity in the ‘90s, “I got chills and goose bumps.”