Italian to its fingertips, but strictly Swiss made. This is the formula with which Meccaniche Veloci hopes to seduce the international markets. It translates into watches that are astonishingly light, with generous curves, designed around the piston and inspired by the world of the motor car. Interview with the company’s new president, Cesare Cerrito.
- The Meccaniche Veloci duo Cesare Cerrito, owner, and Riccardo Monfardino, CEO
Meccaniche Veloci was founded in 2006 in Italy, with a very strong identity focused around its piston-based designs. It passed from hand to hand, before arriving in your lap this year.
Yes, in fact I took over the brand just a few months ago. I come from the world of finance but I have been passionate about watches and motors since I was a child. When I saw that Meccaniche Veloci was looking for a buyer I didn’t hesitate to invest in the brand. It had a pure mechanical aesthetic combined with Italian DNA, which appealed to me. I realised, however, that the company needed an injection of speed and passion.
What direction do you intend to go in?
Marco Colombo, its founder, was a genius. It was his instinct to put a watch inside a piston – a simple but crucial idea. I have been lucky enough to inherit this concept, along with a very clear identity, and an industrial organisation built around the brand. In my opinion, we need to get back to the roots of Meccaniche Veloci, which means design. The real root of our brand is the piston. You know, all Italians keep at least one spare piston! For example, I have one of the pistons that helped Michael Schumacher win the World Championship in a Ferrari in 2000. It’s like my lucky charm.
But not everyone is Italian!
Sure, our watch will always be a polarising product: you either love it or you hate it. But we believe that’s an advantage, because it has a powerful identity. Retailers agree to take the brand because they appreciate its attraction in the window. It draws people like a magnet. And it’s not all about Italy; our primary market now is Japan! Fundamentally, I believe that the most important thing is not to dilute our brand. But that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in partnerships. For instance, we have renewed our agreement with the famous Italian motorcycle helmet manufacturer Suomy. We have to take things step by step. We’re not a start-up any more, but we’re not yet a multinational either.
What are your target markets?
We are aiming for global distribution, but we particularly want to strengthen our presence in Europe and the United States, which in my opinion will be the next growth vector for our brand. Thankfully, word of mouth works very well on social networks, and our strong identity certainly helps in that. We don’t have any official ambassadors, but there are a number of famous sportsmen who have no hesitation in being photographed with one of our watches on their wrist. Also, interestingly, although our DNA is fundamentally masculine, we have quite a strong female customer base in Japan. Our watches might appear massive, but they are in fact extremely light. In terms of price, they range between CHF 1,700 and 12,000, or CHF 30,000 in gold.
You’ve mentioned your brand’s DNA several times. What does it mean, for you?
The three strong, iconic features of our watches are, first, the absence of lugs, second, the four valves on the dial, and third, the perfectly circular profile of a piston segment. In my view the model that best exemplifies our brand identity is the Quattro Valvole Icon: it harks back to the design of the very first model created by Marco Colombo in 2006.
- ICON COLLECTION BY MECCANICHE VELOCI
Will you be keeping the existing collections?
Absolutely. But we will be reducing our 200 references and bringing out fewer models, but with an even stronger identity. And although our heart is Italian, our spirit is Swiss. We are going to design as many components as possible in Geneva, using local partners and we’ll be introducing our first in-house movement for the end of 2015. Our goals are reasonable – my background is in finance and I still have a cautious outlook. Quite simply, our sales must allow us to achieve our dreams!
Do you produce any one-off pieces?
Our Only One collection is based strictly on the concept of unique models. We build our watches out of car, plane and helicopter components. And we are currently taking this concept even further: we have just launched the Only One Off, which is 100% bespoke. You bring us your car component or idea, and we’ll use it to build a watch for you. It’s truly unique!
Source: Europa Star November 2015 Magazine Issue