Managing not one but two watch brands at the same time is quite a challenge. To learn how one does this, I am happy to talk Bertrand rideWho leads both Angelus, as well as Arnold & Son in this edition “Speaking of….”,
Where did your passion for watchmaking come from?
It started very early. My first memory is a Swatch scuba I bought with my pocket money. My passion for watches really started when I started working in the watch industry 22 years ago.
How to pilot not one but two brands?
It was really interesting and emotionally challenging because the two brands are really different 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 that must be respected. It’s a balancing act to draw inspiration from each brand’s past history while keeping an eye on the horizon and what’s to come.
From John Arnold’s marine chronometry firsts to the groundbreaking Angelus mid-century chronographs, we recognize that one thing the brands have in common is a long history of innovation. Or not acquiring those impressive legacies, but building on them by introducing new problems, movements, materials and exciting new designs.
What do you consider the most challenging part of your job?
Both brands are booming and ramping up production is really challenging in terms of supply chain. We develop and produce our own movements, which takes some of the pressure off, but for some parts, we rely on suppliers, and those supply chains are under pressure right now.
Both Angelus and Arnold & Son have very unique DNA. How do you manage this, while also looking towards the future and keeping the brand interesting for collectors?
For each brand, we define a clear design and product plan for the next five years. The key is to maintain a strict mental separation between brands, without overlap. When we brainstorm and develop a new product, the brands are completely different. For example, we never discuss two brands in the same meeting.
We are also seeing collectors intrigued and intrigued by developing new issues that other brands have never used, such as the Arnold & Son Luna Magna, the largest 3D moonphase on the market.
My personal favorite is the blue dialed Chronodates at Watches & Wonders this year. What can you tell us about these watches?
Chronodate is inspired by the original Angelus Chronodato from 1942. This is not a vintage re-release. I like to think of it as a neo-retro inspiration. Here, you’ll see vintage inspiration in the high-contrast counters and large numbers, but it also offers Angelus inspiration in entirely new ways.
We have designed a new, complex case with six main components that allow us to play with different materials, such as combining carbon alloy with 18 carat red gold or titanium. It took us almost a year to complete the design, but the result was amazing.
You once mentioned that Mr. Hayek Sr. was influential in your life for his vision and ability to see 10 years ahead. What do you hope for the viewing world as a whole and especially for Angelus and Arnold & Son?
It’s easy to just focus on product or 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 produced 1,000 watches this year. This increase in demand and production is a testament to the incredible work our distribution, product development and communications teams have worked together over the past three years. In the coming years, we will continue to develop our three pillars, Chronometry, Worldtimer and Astronomy, while developing new products. We plan to introduce the new line in the next 18 months.
With the launch of Chronodate this year, we are bringing back the spirit of the brand, which has long been known for producing the finest chronographs and complications. The history of Angelus is truly rich, and this new chapter will allow us to launch many amazing products in the years and decades to come.
And I ask everyone three things:
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: As I travel a lot (at least before covid), all over the world, I appreciate more than ever being home when I can. I live in a small village close to Geneva and it’s great to be at home and spend 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 plan to keep it.