Can Tiffany & Co. make watches for men?
“I think the first step for anyone looking to relaunch a category is to understand the DNA of the brand,” explains Nicola Andreatta, a third-generation Swiss watchmaker and the vice president of Swiss watches for Tiffany & Co., a role he was appointed two years ago.
“The first thing I did when I took the job, I went to the archives and spent two weeks there, looking at everything that had ever been made by Tiffany throughout its 178 years.”
The need to be thorough is understandable, as Andreatta has a challenging task ahead of him. Tiffany, the luxury worldwide jewellery and specialist retailer, based in New York, wants to be taken seriously as a watch manufacturer again, and has even built a new facility in Switzerland. The first timepieces from it recently emerged – the CT60 collection, using the initials of the company’s original founder, Charles Tiffany, followed by the number of seconds in a New York minute, a phrase sometimes used in the Big Apple to describe its hectic pace.
Andreatta’s research has clearly had an effect, as each watch has a very classic feel, echoing well known Tiffany & Co. models of the past. Specifically, the line has been inspired by a watch from the brand given to President Roosevelt on his birthday in 1945, which old photographs show him wearing at the Yalta Conference just a few months before the end of World War II. The new CT60 collection ranges from $4,250 to $19,000 in terms of price.
Trawling through the archives must have been an engrossing experience. Andreatta would have discovered that timekeeping had a special link with the early days of the company – with the statue of Atlas holding a clock above the main entrance at its flagship store used by New Yorkers for decades as a means of setting the time on their pocket watches. He would have learned that in 1868, Tiffany made America’s first stopwatch, and how in 1874 it built a four-storey watchmaking facility in Geneva. There is definitely heritage there.
But through the years, its timepieces became less significant to the overall business strategy, with a greater focus on jewellery and diamonds. “We are a female brand, I think that is pretty clear,” says Andreatta, arguing that part of his role will be to address the overall perception of the company. “Watches allow us to target a male audience, as 70 percent of that market worldwide is for men. We sell so many accessories for women, and the obvious accessory for a man is a watch.”
Man with a plan: Nicola Andreatta
It was the early 1990s when the last significant Tiffany watches for men were released. A first attempt at re-entering the market, and an ill-fated partnership with Swatch, was embarked upon in 2007, but ended in disaster – Tiffany then announced it would produce watches by itself, which is a promise Andreatta is expected to live up to. He is confident he can make Tiffany a prominent brand in the marketplace, and one of the world’s top 15, but says it will take time.
For now, the CT60 collection is a confident first step, to prove the endeavour can be done. “We have started with a strong collection, and one that honours our history,” Andreatta concludes. “It takes time for people to trust us and see us as a serious watchmaker. I wouldn’t start from day one with a tourbillon, for example, as nobody would buy from us, as they already know of other companies that make them really well. But I love the idea that this is a huge challenge. A seed has been planted and we will watch this seed as it grows. Stay tuned.”