third time lucky

PART­NER­SHIP AFTER AN ILL-WITH FATE THE D SWATCH GROUP, TIFFANY ’ S RE ACHING INTO IT S PA ST TO SE­CURE IT S FU­TURE , WITH MOD­ERN-RETRO PIECES LIKE THE‘ C T 60’.

GQ (Australia) - - GQ WATCH -

Don’t feel em­bar­rassed if you’re not fa­mil­iar with famed jeweller Tiffany & Co.’s con­sid­er­able her­itage as a watch brand. Be­fore be­ing ap­proached to be­come Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of the Tiffany Watch Com­pany three years ago, Ni­cola An­dreatta was bliss­fully un­aware that time­pieces had been sold in the shad­ows of blind­ing di­a­mond rings since 1847. “I knew the brand. I didn’t know any­thing about the watch his­tory,” says An­dreatta. “As no­body else does, well, as no­body else did.” As a third gen­er­a­tion Swiss match­maker, An­dreatta has a greater grasp of horo­log­i­cal his­tory than most, hav­ing de­vel­oped his own brand of bold watches – NOA, purveyor of large, avant-garde, al­most sculp­tural pieces – be­fore be­ing lured to Fifth Av­enue. That over­looked his­tory has be­come the corner­stone of Tiffany & Co.’s third crack at a slice of the multi-bil­lion dol­lar watch in­dus­try. An­dreatta started in his cur­rent role just as the com­pany fin­ished a messy divorce with the Swatch group. The ill-fated part­ner­ship, launched in 2007, was meant to pro­pel Tiffany to ma­jor player sta­tus among the Swiss set. In­stead, it ended, ac­ri­mo­niously, in the courts, with re­crim­i­na­tions on both sides. Now, Tiffany is clearly mov­ing on. “The fact that the part­ner­ship with Swatch failed was a great start­ing point,” says An­dreatta. “Though, the eq­uity in the world of watches has been a bit de­stroyed by the ven­ture that didn’t work. I love chal­lenges [and] it was def­i­nitely a chal­lenge to start... well, to restart the watch busi­ness. “We didn’t have a com­pany in Switzer­land. We didn’t have a team. We didn’t re­ally know where to start from.” That’s when An­dreatta’s his­tory lessons be­gan, look­ing through the com­pany’s ar­chives, which spanned early stop­watches, di­a­mond-en­crusted lapel watches and sparkling cock­tail watches. “I was try­ing to un­der­stand the DNA of the brand, tak­ing that DNA and putting it into a new cat­e­gory. Even though we have a long his­tory, the cat­e­gory has been left apart for a few years. And so it was about com­pletely rein­vent­ing a watch brand.” That rein­ven­tion is en­cap­su­lated by the ‘CT60’ col­lec­tion, launched last year and named for founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. This year, the ‘CT60 Dual Time’ was added to the range. It may look like a chrono­graph, but its two but­tons ac­tu­ally ad­just time zones. “The idea was to get back the cred­i­bil­ity that we had. We were once the first play­ers in the world of watch­mak­ing – both Rolex and Cartier came after Tiffany. We had to gain back that cred­i­bil­ity to make sure that we could be a le­git­i­mate player in the world of watch­mak­ing. An­dreatta says the idea of start­ing with the ‘CT60’ was a nec­es­sary step to speak di­rectly to the watch world, con­nois­seurs and ex­perts whom Tiffany needs to sup­port them. The in­spi­ra­tion for the ‘CT60’ was a Tiffany watch worn by US Pres­i­dent Franklin D Roo­sevelt at the Yalta Con­fer­ence in 1945. This quintessen­tially Amer­i­can time­piece, present at the carv­ing up of post-World War II Europe, man­aged to give An­dreatta the in­spi­ra­tion he was look­ing for with Tiffany Watches. “To be suc­cess­ful, every brand has to be true to its DNA,” he says. “It was im­por­tant to me to un­der­stand what we did. We had to find the de­sign sen­si­bil­ity of the brand. We had to find this Amer­i­can an­gle, which we did, to de­sign this time­piece.” The Amer­i­can an­gle is some­thing An­dreatta de­scribes as “so­phis­ti­cated sim­plic­ity,” ev­i­dent in the stream­lined de­sign and straight­for­ward func­tion­al­ity. “I love com­pli­ca­tions and I love com­pli­cated move­ments,” he says. “At the same time, I un­der­stand that some­times, things can be­come too com­pli­cated. I’m pretty sure that 99 per cent of the peo­ple who buy tour­bil­lons don’t even know what a tour­bil­lon is for. That’s the bad part. It’s about just want­ing to show off. It’s about some­thing mov­ing and you don’t even know what it does. “And Amer­i­cans are much sim­pler in the ways that they live their life. Even with our com­pli­ca­tions, we wanted to work with com­pli­ca­tions that make life eas­ier. Not watches that have to be sent back to the house to be set prop­erly. That doesn’t res­onate well with the Amer­i­can mind­set.” That Amer­i­can spirit is tem­pered by the fact that the watches are man­u­fac­tured in Switzer­land. Since March, the time­pieces have been as­sem­bled com­pletely in-house, but Tiffany Watches still sources com­po­nents from a range of sup­pli­ers. “The ad­van­tage we have to­day is that not own­ing any man­u­fac­turer gives us the pos­si­bil­ity to al­ways work with the best. Some fac­to­ries are the best in alu­minium di­als; some are best for mother-of-pearl. To­day, we can go to dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers for the best of what we’re look­ing for. That’s the way the in­dus­try was 70 years ago.” Things change in 70 years, and, with ri­vals tak­ing pro­duc­tion in-house, this pos­i­tive spin looks set to change in the near fu­ture. “We def­i­nitely can’t stay at the win­dow and look at the oth­ers ac­quir­ing all the best play­ers in Switzer­land,” he says. “We want to make sure we con­trol the qual­ity and the way of man­u­fac­tur­ing. We’re go­ing to think about some ac­qui­si­tions.” It’s a bright fu­ture, thanks to a nod to the past, with An­dreatta adamant that watches won’t dis­ap­pear from Tiffany’s of­fer­ings again. When he started with the brand, the goal was for the watch divi­sion to claim 10 per cent of Tiffany’s busi­ness within 10 years. “Things started pretty well. We’re on track with what we were tar­get­ing. We knew since the be­gin­ning that it was an ag­gres­sive tar­get. But now I’m think­ing, ‘Per­haps [we can hit our tar­get] be­fore 10 years.’”

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