It’s been two years since Gérald Roden took over as chief executive of de Grisogono, after putting Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta back on track. His new mission was, in essence, similar to the previous one in that de Grisogono also needed to be taken in hand after shareholder musical chairs, not to mention cashflow difficulties. Roden, who is known for his plain speaking, has never denied the situation was tense, though never irretrievable. Speaking from Baselworld 2012, he can now show his satisfaction.
“Our phantom investor, as I like to call them, finally came through,” he declares. “After searching for 24 months, we’re now in advanced negotiations with an investment fund. In fact we were in talks during Baselworld and will be meeting again shortly in Geneva. We’re looking at a relatively large capital injection over three years. We like this long-term view and the fact that the minority shareholders, as well as the company’s founder Fawaz Gruosi, stay more involved with the business than ever. This confirms what we already knew: that de Grisogono is a great brand!”
With women in mind
It was still a tough battle to get to this clearer horizon, as Roden explains: “to make matters worse, this difficult period came just when the watchmaking sector was facing a crisis of its own. Of course we had to batten down the hatches but we came through without any major damage. De Grisogono has turned the corner and is ready for a new and better start on solid foundations. The situation bodes well as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. All in all, we’ve managed pretty well.”
Among the most notable results of this “managing pretty well” are, first of all, the Tondo Tourbillon Gioiello, the brand’s first tourbillon in a timepiece for women with an eye for mechanical watches. Three types of gem-setting offer a trilogy of black, brown or white diamonds. This is pure de Grisogono, says the brand, with its daring design, technical excellence, and contemporary baroque aesthetic. “We created this watch with a younger clientele in mind,” says Roden. “The tourbillon was developed in-house. The plate is made by de Grisogono while the components were sourced from suppliers, as we lacked the time to embark on such a major production process. Our next tourbillon will certainly be much more of an in-house development.”
No to digital's diktat
Also new this year is the strikingly original Tondo by Night whose Sellita movement has been reworked to position the oscillating weight on the dial side, all the better to reveal the gems that are repeated on the bezel. The colour of the stones coordinates with that of the timepiece, with versions in white, yellow, pink, green, violet and orange. But de Grisogono has really gone to town on the material for the case and buckle, namely a pearly photoluminescent composite fibreglass. It has the same properties as SuperLuminova in that it soaks up light during the day to glow when darkness falls. Here too, de Grisogono intends seducing women with an entry-level timepiece which once again builds on the unconventional appeal that is many modern watches’ greatest asset in overcoming the digital diktat.
Both these launches have confirmed the company in its choices, particularly as watches now equal jewellery for sales at Baselworld. “We’re satisfied with how things have turned out,” Gérald Roden concludes. “We’ll be launching production slightly up on 2011. I’m convinced we’ll succeed, although we face the additional difficulty of being absent from Asia, excluding Japan. Hence the importance of the negotiations with investors. We can use this capital to build up production, communication, and distribution through new stores. Our objective is to open in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai very soon.” All in readiness for a 20th anniversary that should set the seal on de Grisogono’s future.