Pascal Grenacher: First of all, we would like to welcome you and thank you for being our guest today. It’s great to see you again. Can you tell us something about being a speaker at this Dubai Watch Week event in London?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: Thank you for having me. Speaking of Dubai Watch Week itself, I have to admit, it has definitely become one of my favourite events in the watch industry. It is something completely different compared to other manifestations organized in our business. While we were there, we didn’t talk about sales actually; we simply talked about interesting topics, such as the evolution of the watch market, trends, etc. It was refreshing to see such a different format, so cleverly organized, and I am truly grateful for the invitation. I am very, very happy to be a part of it.
Pascal Grenacher: What are your thoughts on their move, as the event is no longer organized only in Dubai?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: It is a new challenge, a different occasion, for sure. Personally, I find London to be one of the most inspiring cities in the world. It is definitely one of the most important ones. It is a great opportunity, without a question. People might find it strange, you know, because of the different weather, but it is not an obstacle whatsoever. It can work equally as successful here as it did in Dubai. The venue is fantastic; the city’s contemporary art scene is incredibly thrilling, so for me, the decision to organize it here in London was brilliant.
Pascal Grenacher: I agree, London is an amazing city, there are so many beautiful places to visit; a town with a rich history, and of course, Christie’s Headquarters are here, so that’s another asset. Thank you for your comments on Dubai Watch Week.
Now, moving on, could you tell us something about the BVLGARI Watch Collection?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: Of course. Well, we are very proud of our new launches, it is obvious that the overall brand perception has improved – which is great. I mean, the Octo Finissimo is a major success. When you create a collection of automatic timepieces with so much diversity when it comes to movement, finishing, and material, it is always a risk. That is why this success meant a great deal to us. It presents an enormous asset, of course. After winning the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Genève in 2017, we received the IF Gold Design Award and the Red Dot: Best of the Best award. Naturally, this makes us very happy. It shows the BVLGARI quality. I am a designer, and for me, the most exciting part was to get recognition for the design product.
Of course, designing is not a one-man-show, our whole team played an important part. We are a big company, and everyone works hard. From the manufacturer to the designer, each person contributed in their own way. I would often make sketches, trying to come up with an innovative design for the timepiece. I would ask the designers in my team to change how the watch was to be worn, to create a new clamp, a new buckle, and this approach helped us to come up with a prototype in no time. My sketches quickly became 3D files, thanks to the incredible effort put in by my colleagues.
Pascal Grenacher: So, you’re saying it is all about teamwork?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: Indeed. Teamwork is everything because we have the manufacturing side, the development team, the designers, the marketing team, and all of them are working hard for our success.
Pascal Grenacher: You talked about the Finissimo range. Are you planning on developing this product further?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: It is difficult to manage all these breakthroughs and improvements at once. We take it one step at a time since we speak very sophisticated movements with very unique designs. We have to match all these elements together, everything has to be flawless. Opportunity never knocks twice. That is why I believe that our approach is the correct one; we have to be very patient and make the right choices. Most importantly, the process of developing these pieces with different materials and colours is no walk in the park.
Pascal Grenacher: You mentioned Baselworld earlier today; this is a hot topic. Could you tell us something more about it?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: To tell you the truth, that is not really my thing. I mean, whether the boutique is in Rome, Shanghai or Basel makes no difference to me. I would say that this fair format is getting a bit old, outdated… But, still, this is a process that is evolving. We are in the middle of the transition, I believe, and it needs time to be successful. Nevertheless, we absolutely love hosting these events, our booths are always crowded, which is great to see. Everybody loves the Italian way: a warm welcome for our guests, who know how easy-going and unreserved we are. It is all about exchanging knowledge and having fun. We are enjoying great success with our events, our restaurant, our bar and we hope our guests are happy with us too.
Pascal Grenacher: We would appreciate it if you could give us your thoughts on the Middle East customers, your clients there, and the market development in Dubai.
Fabrizio Buonamassa: It has always been a very important and historical market for us. Although it differs from ours when it comes to taste, it is a market that works very well to this day. People here are attracted to different colours, proportions and even fragrances when compared to our customers in the Middle East. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. The people there are very kind and the setting is quite appealing. We have our hotel in Dubai, which serves as a great way to make all these amazing events and talk about the brand with various people. We get to connect with potential clients and people who are interested in the brand as a whole; not just watches or jewellery. We tell them about our brand, why it is so unique, about its style and history – it is an experience that goes well beyond the brand itself, really. In the next two years, we hope to open another venue in Moscow with the same goal in mind.
Pascal Grenacher: Thank you so much for your time and effort to help us learn something about your brand and vision. I have only one question left. What makes you happy, besides watchmaking?
Fabrizio Buonamassa: I consider myself a lucky, lucky man because my work is my passion. Every day I make different sketches because I love to do it. I am curious about objects, materials, and our brand has given me this inspiration and desire to make sure every decision is a step forward for us. The people I had the pleasure of meeting in London, Dubai, Tokyo, New York, all of them have helped me to push forward. For instance, the design of Divas’ Dream timepieces was conceived in a hotel in Beijing, overnight. This shows that we can never know when the perfect idea might come. Lots of pens and lots of paper is needed to make sure the right idea does not evaporate.
The inspiration can come from anywhere; literally, anywhere. After all this time, I do not classify pieces into jewellery, watches, cars, etc. For me, it is difficult to leave out certain details that represent Bulgari as a brand. As an industrial designer, I can adapt these ideas to every object in my sketches; not only watches or jewellery. In the same way, while I was working as a car designer, I always tried to find inspiration from outside the world of cars. It is not easy, there are no rules, but this creative flow is something that each of us can try to nourish every day by keeping our eyes open for different and unexpected sources of imagination.
Of course, for me, it is all about objects. I love cars, motorbikes, vintage cars, timepieces.
Pascal Grenacher: And you are doing a great job if you ask me! Once again, thank you very much for the interview. That was the last question.
Fabrizio Buonamassa: Thank you. It was nice talking to you.