arly 2020, following the announcement that RJ Watches was ceasing activity, CEO Marco Tedeschi took a good part of his former team with him on a new adventure: the creation of Kross Studio. “Kross” for the Swiss cross, for the Roman numeral ten (all editions are limited to ten pieces) and for the “x” that signifies a collaboration. Indeed, the newly created entity positioned itself as a hub of competencies, launching not as a brand but as a contractor, just at the outbreak of the global pandemic.
What was the thinking behind this? “We knew no-one would be willing to produce very small series for a new brand. Setting up as a contractor meant we could produce small quantities for ourselves and at the same time supply external clients. Whereas there are brands that start out with no manufacturing capacity then gradually verticalise their production, from the very beginning we were performing almost every stage of production in-house,” says Marco Tedeschi as he gave us a tour of the rapidly expanding studio in Gland, between Geneva and Lausanne.
- The Kross Studio team poses with the impressive Kyber crystal container designed to house the Star Wars Death Star Tourbillon watch.
Kross Studio’s work as a contractor finances all its operations. With watch sales surging, order books are full until the end of the year. The company, which plans to extend its fleet of machinery (Willemin-Macodel is a longstanding partner), delivers bracelet clasps, links and display boxes – a speciality – to the Swiss watch ecosystem. Apart from a handful of components (regulating organs, barrels and jewels), the studio handles everything under its own roof.
“We’d like to bring in a couple more specialisations such as precision turning,” says Marco Tedeschi. “Since the beginning of the year we’ve integrated decoration and chamfering and intend to build on this by training chamferers in-house, given that there are no schools teaching these skills.”
- The new KS 05 model is equipped with the Kross Studio KS 7005 calibre, a manual-winding patented floating central tourbillon designed, crafted and assembled in-house.
Renowned for its collaborations with major US entertainment franchises, creating mechanical objets d’art on Batman, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Transformers themes, Kross Studio recently launched its first standalone wristwatch. The KS 05 features the studio’s impressive raised tourbillon that appears to float above a stone dial. Patented by the brand, it brings incredible depth to the mechanism under its domed crystal. Much of the credit goes to master watchmaker Sergio Silva, who has been part of the Kross Studio adventure since day one.
- Kross Studio and Warner Bros Consumer Products and DC Comics launched The Batman Collector Set composed of The Batman Tourbillon watch and an illuminated Bat-Signal functional art piece.
This is the fifth case and calibre to come out of the studio in three years. While it may be a young brand, releasing two or three collector sets a year, its roots go much further back, as the first central tourbillon movement was modelled on Marco Tedeschi’s final-year project as an engineering student.
Tedeschi insists on the brand’s mission “to produce exclusive watches based on remarkable concepts. Even after the launch of our own watches, we won’t be producing more than a hundred or so pieces a year.” The average price is around CHF 100,000. The company draws on a dense network of local partners that goes beyond the watch sector to develop its unique products, such as the cabinetmaker who built the 1.2-metre long orange containers that house the Star Wars collector set, or the manufacturer of barrage turbines that helped produce the Bat-Signals for the Batman set. As a studio, it stays open to the idea of making other objects, also in the form of collaborations.
- The Game of Thrones / House of the Dragon set, produced in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products
Customers fall into three main categories (sometimes all three at once!): watch collectors, fans of the franchises and art enthusiasts. “We sold a Star Wars tourbillon to a guy who is a hardcore fan of the series. It was the first time he had bought a watch in his entire life,” Marco Tedeschi recalls. “Not long ago, he called me to ask my opinion of the latest Greubel Forsey GMT. I like the idea that, through our different products, we can convert newcomers to the fine art of watchmaking.”