By  on July 1, 2010

Founded as a coach builder in Holland in 1898, Spyker has a rich history in the transportation business. In fact, the Queen of the Netherlands still uses its Golden State Coach for state functions today. By 1903, the company branched out into motorcars and during World War I, it produced fighter aircraft. Spyker hit hard times and went out of business in the Twenties, but its legend lived on and in 2000, Dutch entrepreneur Victor Muller — who became famous earlier this year by acquiring Saab from General Motors — set out to revive the brand. Part of the strategy is to create a lifestyle collection around the Spyker brand, beginning with watches.

Spearheaded by luxury accessories veteran Thierry Chaunu, chief executive officer of Expression D’Artistes, the company has developed a collection of timepieces that reflects the history of the car brand. Manufactured in Geneva, the Spyker timepieces feature hand-stitched leather straps by the same craftspeople who create the interiors of the cars,as well as dials that replicate pieces of the car including spokes of the wheels on the back and intake valves on the side.

Only 1,000 of the steel and titanium watches were produced and there are 250 in gold or white gold. Retail prices range from $9,750 for steel and top out at more than $30,000 for 18k gold.

The primary target is the Spyker customer, Chaunu said, noting the watches can be customized with the car owner’s name and the chassis number of the vehicle, and the leather colors can also be selected to match the car.

Distribution will be limited to around 15 to 20 high-end watch retailers and Spyker-sponsored car owners events in the U.S.

Next up is to increase the number of watch models on offer, and also explore expansion into other categories. Chaunu, whose prior stints include Cartier, Christofle, Chopard and Leviev, said natural extensions include eyewear, accessories such as cuff links and key chains, and small leather goods. “There’s so much you can do in the sphere of the discerning gentleman,” said Carsten Preisz, vice president of sales and marketing for Spyker of North America.

Although Spyker was impacted by the recession — the company produced 39 handcrafted cars last year versus 43 in 2008 at prices that start at $209,000 — Preisz said the plan is to introduce a new model later this year, the C8 Aileron, that should double the number of vehicles available in the market over the next year.

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