Managing not one but two watch brands at the same time is quite a challenge. To find out how one does this, I was happy to talk with Bertrand Savary, who heads both Angelus, as well as Arnold & Son, in this edition of “Talking Shop with….”,
Where does your passion for watchmaking come from?
It started very early. My first memory is the Swatch Scuba that I bought with my pocket money. My passion for watches really began when I started working in the watch industry 22 years ago.
How is it to pilot not one, but two brands?
It’s really interesting and mentally challenging because the two brands are really distinct in terms of DNA and universe. For us, Angelus and Arnold & Son are sister brands, but they have very individual personalities, aesthetics, values, and priorities to be respected. It is a balancing act to draw inspiration from each brand’s storied past while keeping an eye on the horizon and what’s to come.
We recognize that one thing the brands have in common is a long history of innovation, from John Arnold’s marine chronometry firsts to the groundbreaking Angelus mid-century chronographs. Or goal is not to coast on those impressive legacies but to build on them by continuing to introduce new complications, movements, materials, and exciting new designs.
What do you consider the most challenging part of your job?
The two brands are booming, and increasing the production is really challenging in terms of the supply chain. We develop and produce our own movements, which alleviates some of the pressure, but for some spare parts, we depend on suppliers, and those supply chains are strained right now.
Both Angelus and Arnold & Son have very distinct DNA. How do you maintain this, while at the same time moving towards the future and keeping the brand interesting for collectors?
For each brand, we have defined a clear design and production plan for the next five years. The key is to maintain a strict mental separation between the brands, with no overlap. When we are brainstorming and developing the new product, the brands remain totally distinct. For example, we never discuss both brands in a single meeting.
We also look to intrigue collectors and maintain their interest by developing new complications that have never been used by any other brands, like the Arnold & Son Luna Magna, the biggest 3D moonphase on the market.
The blue dialed Chronodates are my personal favorite from this year’s Watches & Wonders. What can you tell us about these watches?
The Chronodate is inspired by the original Angelus chronodato from 1942. This isn’t a vintage re-release. I prefer to think of it as neo-retro inspired. Here, you see vintage inspiration in the high-contrast counters and large numerals, but it also carries on the Angelus spirit of innovation in wholly new ways.
We designed a new, complex case with six main components that allows us to play with different materials, here combining carbon composite with 18 karat red gold or titanium. The design took us nearly a year to complete, but the result is stunning.
You once mentioned Mr. Hayek Senior being an influence in your life for his vision and capacity to see 10 years ahead. What do you expect is on the horizon for the watch world as a whole and Angelus and Arnold & Son in particular?
It’s easy to focus just on product or on branding, but to be truly successful in this business, it’s important to take a holistic view of operations. Like a great watch movement, optimal efficiency and excellence do not come by accident. It takes all the parts working in harmony to reduce friction points and improve performance at every level.
For example, Arnold & Son just produced 1,000 watches this year. This increase in demand and production is a testament to the excellent job our distribution, product development, and communication teams have done working together over the last three years. In the years to come, we will continue to develop our three pillars, chronometry, worldtimer, and astronomia, while developing new products. We plan to introduce a new line in the next 18 months.
With the launch of the Chronodate this year, we are bringing back the spirit of the brand, long renowned for producing the best chronographs and complications. The history of Angelus is really rich, and this new chapter will allow us to launch so many fantastic products in the years and decades to come.
And three things I ask everybody:
Favorite food: I love all kinds of food, especially Italian, Japanese, and Peruvian…but the most important thing is who you share it with!
Favorite place: Since I travel so much (at least before Covid), all around the globe, more than ever I appreciate just being home when I can. I live in a small village close to Geneva, and the best thing is simply to stay home and enjoy spending time with my twin girls and my wife.
Favorite watch: I still love my Panerai Submersible PAM0024 from 2000. It was the beginning of Panerai, and I bought it with my first salary. I still have it and it and plan to keep it.