China is now the world’s third largest market for the consumption of luxury goods, behind the US and Japan. And according to some studies, by 2015, it will have become the largest! Today the luxury goods come mainly from foreign brands, but things are changing with the steady emergence of home-grown brands. Iguzzini Watches is one of these. Originally created in 1903 in Shanghai by Italian Federico Iguzzini, the company closed its doors around the middle of the 20th century. Fast forward to early 21st century when two Franco-Mexican brothers, Stephane and Lander Michel, on hearing about Mr Iguzzini’s story, decided to buy the name and give the company a new lease of life.
Stephane, can you tell us how you started the company?
As our father was a diplomat, we grew up in various countries around South-East Asia. Basically, we never really left the region. In 2005, during a trip to Shanghai – I was working in public affairs at the time – friends told me the tale of Federico Iguzzini. I have always loved watches and was immediately taken by the story. I discussed with my brother Lander the idea of buying the company. After careful consideration and undertaking some research and decided to buy what was left of the company. We launched the new firm in 2007.
Where are the elements made and assembled?
Our calibres use the Swiss movements ETA and Soprod as their base, which are then further detailed and adjusted to our needs and specifications. Our watches are assembled in Hong Kong.
Which complications do you use?
Besides the basic functions (time/sweeping seconds/date), we are currently working with chronograph, second time zone, power reserve display and GMT. We are hoping to have a tourbillon in the next couple of years – a major goal of mine that I long to achieve.
So your watches are not really made in China? Can Iguzzini Watches be called a Chinese company?
We are absolutely a Chinese brand and proud of it. Since the birth of the brand in 1903, the company has been Chinese in essence, spirit and heritage but as it was started by an Italian it also has, of course, a European touch. We are bringing together unmatched horological components with the craftsmanship of China. At events in New York or Geneva there is never any doubt that we are a Chinese luxury brand and it is something we are proud to say.
Did you find in China, the expertise you were looking for?
Yes, all detailing, customizing, adjusting and, of course, the assembly is carried out entirely by a team of professionals from mainland China and Hong Kong. They are very dynamic and their dedication has been a crucial factor in our development.
How many collections are there?
We currently have 3 lines called Passion, Civilization and Spiritual. Each line is limited to a few hundred pieces, plus our ultra-limited series of 10 to 50 pieces amongst which we have brand new divers’s and aviators’ watches!
Where can our readers who are interested buy your watches?
We sell by word of mouth and are currently developing a network of representatives around the world that is continuously being updated so the best for interested NMiC readers is to write to us and check on how to buy for each country.