Today, we’re focusing on a century-plus old retailer that focuses on established brands like Rolex and Tudor, as well as a relatively young retailer who has made it a mission to seek out lesser-known watch brands and offer them in the US. Where there’s a market, there’s someone there to serve it. Read on to learn how these two retailers are doing just that.
Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Everyone has a creation story. What’s yours?
We are a 121-year-old family business currently owned by Tom Dixon. Our origin was in 1899, when Charles Kasten formed a jewelry store in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1936, Bill Schwanke (Tom’s great uncle), a watchmaker, bought into the company to form Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers as we know it today. Fast forward to 1984 – Tom’s father Malcolm bought the remaining shares of the store from the Schwanke family after working there for over 30 years. When Malcolm unexpectedly passed in 1986, Tom left his job as a buyer at Marshall Fields to run, and eventually purchase, the family business. Presently, Tom, his wife Joanne, his son Charlie, and his sister Patty are actively involved in the store’s operations.
We have had a very exciting and storied history along the way, from importing Rolex watches from Canada in the ’30s to providing the silverware set for the commissioning of the U.S.S. Wisconsin in the ’40s (and the recommissioning in the ’80s). We were also among the first 10 authorized Breitling dealers in the United States. Over these 120-plus years, we have been a recipient of many prestigious awards such as: Robert Shipley AGS award, Diamonds International awards, Business of the Year, and more.
How has Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers been supporting the watch community?
We have a great affinity for watches. For the past 25 years, Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers has attended Baselworld, reporting back to our staff and clients the current trends and releases in the watch world. We have had the pleasure of building a national brand among the aviation community by partnering with Breitling for the past 20 years at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. More recently, we have been active with the local Redbar chapter in Milwaukee. This amazing group has been great at bringing together the watch community here. In fact, they inspired us to explore our newest timepiece …read more