President of CALVIN KLEIN Watches + Jewelry, Carlo Giordanetti, establishes a new code for the brand’s signature minimalist design
Since inception, the CALVIN KLEIN brand has been synonymous with understated style and sharp aesthetic. Despite the diverse portfolio that ranges from multiple tiers of ready-to-wear to denim and basic wear, to active wear, the modern, minimalist approach is evident across its products, including watches and accessories, season after season.
The 2018 campaign for CALVIN KLEIN Watches + Jewelry, photographed against a backdrop of prairie plains and wheat fields, encapsulates youth in a breezy, care-free style that evokes the brand’s vision of a new Americana. The dreamlike visuals are juxtaposed with vibrant still life images of the novelties, lensed on gleaming chrome car hoods, underscoring timeless American rites of passage: road trips, drive-in movies, etc, and the collection’s polished, dynamic and modern-retro nature.
In the wake of designer Raf Simons’ (Christian Dior, Jil Sander) appointment as chief creative officer of CALVIN KLEIN, we caught up with Carlo Giordanetti, president of CALVIN KLEIN Watches + Jewelry, at Baselworld 2018 and learned more about the new direction set by Simons and the on-going joint venture with the Swatch Group, with which the fashion brand launched its watch and jewelry line back in 1997.
Please tell us more about the new direction set for CALVIN KLEIN Watches + Jewelry and your strategy for 2018 in response to that.
Our approach was to keep the DNA of CALVIN KLEIN and use what we’ve done for the past 20 years to meet the new direction that came from Raf Simons and his team in New York. What they wanted this year was a “new classic”, capturing the younger audience. We wanted to also reassure them that fashion is not just about “crazy” and “the extreme”; fashion can also be about value. So the input here was to have something very rounded, very sensual, something that would work as a unisex piece and, of course, with a chronograph. The chronograph is important in establishing a certain kind of masculine quality, not to mention the mark of Swiss watchmaking.
We have a collection that is a little more edgy (referring to CALVIN KLEIN Achieve). I think it speaks volumes of the archetypal American icon, reinterpreted for modern times. It’s got a really American flavour from the 1950s, with a very contemporary update. If you look closely, you will notice that the case features both brushed and polished finishes, so there’s really an element of design that makes it more than just a fashion timepiece.
We imagine that most watchmakers work on their own terms. Is it a challenge for you to design your watches in line with directions from fashion?
No, because i’m Italian (laughs). The Swiss have a lot to offer when it comes to watchmaking, but they are not necessarily known for their sense of fashion. I believe that in the dialogue with the CALVIN KLEIN universe, being Italian helps a lot because we understand the fashion industry in a more natural way. You don’t even have to explain; we kind of just get it. The exercise we have to do, in fact, is to bring it down to a Swiss watchmaking language, so it’s almost the other way around. And the beauty of this brand is that it’s a joint venture, that we respect each other. We take the guidelines from their creative team at the same time that they look at what we do and understand what we are doing, and know that we are the expert in watchmaking. So it’s a very solid and healthy relationship.
The Swiss watch heritage spans centuries, marked with advanced complications and expertise. Do you find the minimalist approach a restraint?
Yes, the Swiss watchmaking industry is equipped to offer a lot of possibilities; in fact, the only thing that is limiting us is the pricing. But this works to our advantage here at CALVIN KLEIN Watches + Jewelry; it justifies what we do because maintaining a democratic price point has always been the brand’s position, something that we want to protect. Having said that, we are putting in a lot for what we are charging - the industry standard of Swiss-made quality, at an accessible price range. So, in all, it helps us from straying too far away.
Since coming aboard a year and a half ago, what are some of the strategies and directions you have introduced?
I would say that the one change that I’m glad to have brought about is the introduction of colour. When we first started, the brand was very pure and stark, but over time, to keep pace with changing trends, we realised that it was time we added some colour. Believe me, it was a big cultural change, too. It may not seem so to the outside world, but it was really some change. Internally, we had to retune the mindset of our own people. So we’ve really lighten up the brand. And the same is applied across the campaign and other communication materials. It’s still minimalist, but with emotion. Our biggest kiosk, launched recently in KLCC, Malaysia, for example - just the fact that the flooring is a blue carpet against a mostly concrete colour theme really gives the brand a refreshing vibe.
A classic revisited, the contemporary design has been updated from what was originally inspired by vintage timepieces. This new offering features a clean silver dial of exquisite control in 43mm for men, with an innovative mesh bracelet for an upscale and premium effect. It comes in stainless steel and pink gold PVD, designed for a younger and more refined look.
Striking and charismatic, CALVIN KLEIN Achieve evokes an unmistakably American style, reinterpreted for modern times. The watch, made of 43mm polished and brushed stainless steel, is designed for individuals with a strong sense of self. Available with an all-silver white dial, a black dial with orange accent, and a striking blue dial with yellow highlights, the watch comes in a simple three-hand mode with date, and a chronograph with distinctively retro beige counters.
Masculine in retro-modern style, the CALVIN KLEIN High Noon is a fusion of radical modernity and timeless sophistication. Available in 40mm for the three-hand model and 43mm for the chronograph version, the watch boasts a sleek, rounded silhouette and domed glass, curved to extreme perfection. It comes in polished stainless steel, in steel PVD black and steel PVD pink.