Learning From The Past

Legendary jeweller Tiffany & Co. is famous for its diamonds, wedding rings and iconic blue box. The Vice President and General Manager of Swiss watches for Tiffany & Co. Nicola Andreatta, is on mission to set the record straight.

By Stéphane Le Duc

How do you bring back the credibility of being a real watchmaker?

Watches have been a key part of our business since the very beginning. We started selling watches in 1847. I think Charles Lewis Tiffany was a visionary in the sense that he started immediately with a certain quality of watches, establishing a partnership with Patek Phillipe and being the only distributor of the brand in the United States for many years. I think the key word is commitment, and communicating this commitment to the world. We decided to start an operation in Switzerland with people that have been involved with watches since they were born. We like to say that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Our decision was to do it in a way that would bring back our credibility: We started to work with mechanical movements, we decided to focus maximum attention on quality and to select the best people to manufacture every single component the way we wanted, and even to communicate about craftsmanship and show we are serious in what we are doing.

In terms of design, was it important to make a reference to the history of Tiffany?

It was a key thing. I cannot stop saying that moving away from the DNA of a brand is the biggest mistake you can make. To me, the most important thing was to go to the archives. We discovered so many things in the history of Tiffany and watchmaking. Taking that and putting it into our new watches, involving the design and what we have been doing for so many years was a key step for us in introducing the new collection. We now have more than 400 pieces in our archives and we keep buying at auctions because there are so many things to discover about the brand. Just because we want to bring back that heritage.

How do you make the choice for the creation and design of a watch like the CT60, inspired by the vintage Tiffany watch of President Roosevelt?

First of all, the fact that we decided to start with men is not the easiest way. It’s kind of a crazy thing for Tiffany because 98% of the customers are women. It shows we are going up the north face of Everest. We are nobody in the world of men’s watches, that's what we started from. Again, it is linked to credibility. We need to talk to men because men like to know what is inside, not only what is outside. To be perceived as a watchmaker we needed to work that way. When we were starting every - thing, we were contacted by Christie’s and they told us that they had this beautiful piece that had belonged to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That he was wearing it at the Yalta Conference and other great events. In fact, seven different American presidents wore Tiffany watches in the past. We also realized this watch was the quintessential American design for a watch. Very simple lines, what we called sophisticated simplicity, very open dial, very little use of metal, easy to use, a complication that simplifies life. That’s why we decided to use this American way of designing watches to take a watch that was perfect for 1945 to make a watch that could be perfect for today.