In conversation – the eclecticum sits down with Davide Cerrato, Managing Director of Montblanc’s Watch Division
A frank exchange about the integration of Minerva, the influence of a new outdoor culture, and what he would take for a perfect, eclectic weekend...
A watch is a watch – or not? With basic physical principles applying throughout the industry, and even – generally speaking – most new materials, production processes, technologies but also designs, styles or even fashion trends available to (resp. followed by) the vast majority of watch brands, understanding a given watch (or a collection) requires to broaden the view – i.e. essentially highlighting its context – to obtain a better picture of the brand and particularly the personalities who drive watchmaking, the watchmakers themselves, the constructors, or the brand leaders.
We recently used some quality time with Davide Cerrato, Managing Director of Montblanc’s Watch Division, to learn more about his personal affection with watchmaking, and how this translates into the work of Montblanc.
Davide Cerrato was born to an Italian family and early on developed interests for design and architecture, but also for business and management. After initial stints in the automotive and Fast-moving consumer goods industries Cerrato found in watchmaking a profession where he could combine is diverse interests, and joined a brand which was known to only a few specialised collectors – Panerai, which has just been acquired by Richemont. A few years past he changed gears and joined Tudor, where he was instrumental in awakening the personality of Rolex’ little sister.
After more than a decade there, he accepted the position as managing director at Montblanc (watch division).
(Davide Cerrato in conversation with the eclecticum)
1) What aspect(s) is the role of a company leader different in watchmaking compared to other industries you worked in?
I believe one key difference to other industries is that in watchmaking there is a great emotional component to every aspect of the work – to the product, the processes, the people, and this includes watchmakers as well as management.
Personally, I guess I work a bit different to many company leaders in that I don’t ask my teams to create a new product in the typical consecutive manner – design and technology first, then marketing, then sales – but I rather call all teams together, define product design & universe and the let the creativity of all teams working together flow – ideas flows at an instant, and then you combine the best ones.
2) How would you define Montblanc as a watchmaker?
We consider ourselves as the following:
- Specialist outsider (this refers to the fact that Montblanc does not produce only watches)
- Fine watchmaking with character thanks to Minerva and the strengths of design.
This is expressed in our collection made of 6 product lines with a classic and a sport offer as much as a contemporary and a more vintage expression.
Every line is built on 3 level of pricing depending on the movements we use inside:
- ~<5K CHF: industry standard movements for the entry part of each line
- ~>5K – <20K CHF: own (industrial) manufacture movements, e.g. the Nicolas Rieussec chronograph or the Geospheres
- ~>25k CHF: fine Minerva movements completely handmade and hand finished
(Montblanc’s three tiers exemplified with the Heritage collection: Sellita movements (top left, GMT), industrial in-house or in-house modified movements (top middle, Monopusher Chronograph) and Minerva movements (top right and bottom; Manufacture Pulsograph))
3) What is Montblanc´s biggest asset in watchmaking? Which are your best parameters to create desire?
We try to leverage both the technological competences as well as the design heritage of Minerva throughout our collections – this is the source of credibility and also creates emotional connections to the brand.
Generally speaking, the integration of Minerva is particularly important to us. We increasingly try to use these watchmaking competence also in the lower tiers, to bring interesting complications at a fair price/fair value level. One example is the 1858 Monopusher chronograph based on a Sellita movement, an unusual complication at its price range, and we worked hard to get for example the pusher feeling right.