Talking Business With Flavio Pellegrini, President Of Concord Watches
Flavio Pellegrini has been with luxury watch group, Movado for several years, most of that time spent in Swiss-grown brand Concord Watches. The brand, founded in Biel just over a century ago, is most known for its classic lines such as the Saratoga watch but has more recently gained more renown over the C1 range, a masculine timepiece that is rather representative of the sporty luxe watches of yesteryear. Pellegrini, recently promoted to President of Concord Watches sat down with us and talked about the routines at the top of a brand.
First off, congratulations on the recent promotion. What do you suppose your days are going to look like now and does it feel daunting?
"Not very. I'm more excited actually; it's been a culmination of working for a few years for Concord and finally, getting up there. But it doesn't really change what I've been doing.
On a day to day basis, it really is making sure that at the end of the day, we make a profit. It's a business after all and that's how we survive so it's also about looking at markets and seeing how viable they are, checking up on the current ones and seeing how we can improve them. That's a big part of my time, I think - the future. Marketing, pricing and distribution; you never have one thing to do, it's everything. It makes the job a lot more interesting that way but I suppose it's realising that you're spread a little more thin than you already are."
Doesn't seem to be deterring you at all. I heard you've been all around Asia this trip (Pellegrini was here for the Singapore leg of the Formula One). What's walking the grounds like?
"In Asia, as always, things here are well-represented. Brands have it extremely good here. People are always shopping and the salespeople here take the initiative to know their goods but not only that, the customers know their goods just as well. It's a place where everybody is wearing beautiful watches and not just from certain brands. there's a large variety of timepieces, especially here in Singapore. Back in Switzerland, you see the same thing but to know that the culture here is just as... rampant? It's a great feeling."
Now that you're at the top, do you look back and think of things that could have been done better for Concord?
"When I first took over the brand, we felt there was a huge want for our older collections like the Saratoga and Mariner to be relaunched. I think we may have focused on those lines a little too much, as opposed to working on the C1 and further pushing it. It's not like they don't sell but the C1 line could have worked for a better contemporary image. But that's our focus now, we'll be pushing the C1 for next year."
Brand heritage-wise, Concord has a history that a lot of people don't know about. What would you want them to know?
"I think something people tend to forget is that we did contribute to the Swiss comeback when the quartz crisis happened. It was a bad time for a lot of brands that focused on mechanical timepieces. When it did hit, our brand answered the Japanese quartz with our Delirium quartz which was less than a millimeter thick. That got us into the Guinness Book of Records for a long time. I mean, we got hit too but at least we hit back so I think we gave the Swiss industry a bit of motivation too. We do intend to build on that legacy again though."
Oh? Like a new quartz line that's ultra thin?
"Not really. It doesn't have to be quartz but we feel like we want to go into a breakthrough sort of mode. Our idea right now is more like"Thinnest bracket" then sorta go forward from there. Who knows?"
That's a good start though. The whole battle of the thinnest watches could always use another contender. Where do you see Concord in the respect of tiers?
"Well, we're a luxury brand but for us, exclusivity is luxury. That's what we've always believed in. Not to slag off anyone but if everyone you see is wearing a Daytona, it's no longer luxury, it's just expensive goods. Our production values are so small so we see it as something rare. Our current volume is just a little shy of 8,000 a year and it's a healthy mix of C1 and the classic lines."
Will the brand be looking into developing its own calibres? It seems like the direction for most brands nowadays.
"Not right now but not likely in the near future too. We are not a manufacture and we are not movement experts but we outsource that to other experts. For example, why do we use an ETA movements? Because it is the most reliable movement out there. There is no shame in admitting something like this. What we sell in our watches is the attention to design and the materials that come into play for the cases and straps. For me personally, a watch is an eternity box so I believe we should put in the best engine that will work the longest. If you put in your own movement which is say, only two years old, I'm scared of what happens if it is faulty. We depend on Concepto who does work for our tourbillons and higher complications and we trust them."
What's the future looking like for Concord?
"Good, right now. Come by our booth at Basel. You'll see."