Kim-Eva Wempe, Gerhard D. Wempe KG

Kim-Eva Wempe

The Experience
of Four Generations

Editors’ Note

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Kim-Eva Wempe lived in Switzerland and Italy and held internships in watch, jewelry, and gemstone production. In 1984, she began working at Gerhard D. Wempe KG and that same year, began a business management program at the Wirtschaftsakademie Hamburg (business college). She graduated in 1987 and became a partner responsible for procurement/planning, human resources, marketing, and public relations. In 2000, she developed the new jewelry brand line, BY KIM. She has been a personally liable partner of Gerhard D. Wempe KG since 1994. In 2003, she took over business operations. She received the title of “Hamburg Entrepreneur of 2007” from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Selbständiger Unternehmer - ASU (Association of Independent Entrepreneurs) and the Bundesverband Junger Unternehmer - BJU (National Association of Young Entrepreneurs).

Company Brief

Founded in 1878 and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Wempe (www.wempe.com; www.wempe-glashuette.com) is a purveyor of luxury timepieces and jewelry, with 25 stores in six countries and aboard the cruise ship MS Europa. Wempe in the U.S. is run by Ruediger Albers, who has been with the company for 25 years. In 1980, the company established New York-based American Wempe Corporation, whose flagship store on Fifth Avenue sells some of the world’s most prestigious watch brands and fine jewelry. The store reflects the importance of Wempe’s longstanding relationships with prestigious watch houses, the Wempe-owned jewelry line “BY KIM”, and the Wempe watch lines “Zeitmeister” as well as “Chronometerwerke” while maintaining a homogeneous, European style salon appearance. Wempe’s commitment to customer service manifests itself in their expanded service atelier where five state-of-the-art workstations are equipped to handle the most challenging tasks. The experienced master watchmakers, who boast a combined tenure at Wempe of more than 50 years, embody the generous service culture for which Wempe has become known and consistently recognized. Wempe recently opened a new set of doors on Fifth Avenue, just two blocks south of the longstanding Wempe store located in the lobby of the The Peninsula Hotel.

Wempe is a brand with a long history and heritage. Would you highlight the history of Wempe and how the brand has evolved over the years?

Wempe has been marked by its four generations: The founder Gerhard D. Wempe was a watchmaker. He had entrepreneurial ambitions, opened his own workshop in 1878, and ended up with five branches in Hamburg. His son Herbert further developed the business incorporating also a firm of maritime chronometers. The grandson Hellmut set the international expansion in motion and, under my guidance as the great-granddaughter, Wempe’s own watch and jewelry brands were launched.

Rings BY KIM


Wempe is a consistent industry leader. What makes the brand so special and how have you achieved such consistently strong results?

The company founder’s principle was, “I shall endeavor to offer my honored customers the best goods, the most extensive selection, and the most generous service.”

We have assembled the experience of four generations today and always maintain this guideline.

What are the key markets for Wempe and would you highlight the global footprint for the brand?

Our key markets are Europe and the U.S. We started in a provincial town in Northern Germany, went to Hamburg, and then expanded throughout Germany. In 1980, Wempe made the leap to New York, followed by the European cosmopolitan cities Paris, London, Vienna, Madrid, and the latest opening last year, which was Beijing, China.

Rings BY KIM


Wempe is well-known for its watch offerings, but you are also a leader in jewelry. What role does jewelry play for the business?

Jewelry plays a crucial role. It is “made in Germany,” in our own atelier in the South of Germany. We have our own designer and our lines are influenced by Italian and French design. “BY KIM” has become the third strongest brand for Wempe.

Would you provide an overview of your jewelry and the vision behind each of the collections?

BY KIM is an international brand with lines called “Helioro” and “Blu” as brand icons. The jewelry not only looks good, but also feels good.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. This is why we have a large diamond collection and quite a good sense for creations that women might wish for.

How do you define the target market for your jewelry and is this a broader market for Wempe than for its watch offerings?

Watches are for men and women and therefore represent the broader market for us; jewelry is only worn by women. Wempe has become the first address for watch enthusiasts. We only concentrate on brands with a watchmaking tradition. As for jewelry, we target women who consider a piece of jewelry not as a fashion item but as a valuable part of their personality. This is why the “feel good factor” of our jewelry is much appreciated.

Wempe is known for its focus on service. How critical is customer service to your success and how are you able to ensure such consistent service standards worldwide?

Customer service is essential for us. We maintain the standard by conviction and constant training.

Are there specific pieces within your jewelry collections that you wear the most and have a special attachment to?

My “Helioro” ring that replaced my wedding ring (although I still have the same husband), the diamond line from my mother, my diamond solitaire studs and, variably, a piece with colored stones.

What are your key priorities for the business as you look to the future?

To make the right decisions in order to lead the company into the fifth generation.•