Tiffany & Co. The return of the American giant
Having been a major retailer for Patek Philippe in the United States before setting up a factory in Geneva, Tiffany is known for a certain style. Jon King talks about the brand’s heritage and its great comeback in watchmaking.
Executive Vice-President of Tiffany & Co for 25 years in charge of product development and the design of some 300 stores, the American Jon King showed off the brand’s private collection (normally seen at the flagship Fifth Avenue store) as a prelude to the global launch of Tiffany’s new watch collections on 2nd April. After abandoning the joint venture with the Swatch Group to make its comeback on the watch scene, Tiffany set up a team of professionals who have been working on the development and distribution of Tiffany watches for the past two years, under the responsibility of Nicola Andreatta (exclusive interview to follow).
The resources dedicated to this huge programme are in line with the ambitions of this legendary brand, which is familiar to more than 99% of Americans. The unveiling of the new CT60 collection at the start of April thus goes hand-in-hand with the opening of an impressive store in Geneva, taking up two floors on a strategic corner of the famous Rue du Rhône. For Tiffany it is to a certain extent a case of going back to the roots, since the company founder Charles Lewis Tiffany chose to set up a four-storey factory at the Place Cornavin back in 1874. Twenty years after becoming the first Patek Philippe retailer across the Atlantic (and the biggest today), the pioneering Tiffany went on to conquer the world with its gold pocket watches, jewellery and precious stones.
An incredible collection of watches
Although the most emblematic Tiffany creation is the Atlas clock installed above the store in 1853 to give New Yorkers the time, the brand’s vision allowed it to embody several styles over the years and win numerous distinctions. Jon King mentions, among others, the Tiffany Timer from 1868, which was America’s first stopwatch, the patent on the green luminescent coating on hands and hour markers filed by its gemmologist George Kunz, prizes received at the end of the 19th century at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris and Philadelphia for jewellery watches, and at the Chicago Fair for astronomical clocks, not to mention the seven American presidents who purchased or received Tiffany watches, starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who wore his gold Tiffany watch at the Yalta conference in 1945. Both elegant and functional, with a touch of aesthetic originality, this highly legible annual calendar served as the inspiration for a model in the new CT60 collection. After all, the credo of Charles Lewis Tiffany was “Good design is good business”.
As Jon King points out, Tiffany has always stood for the American dream. Having started out from nothing, the visionary entrepreneur with a big heart made his mark on several generations of customers, with the most important stages in their lives being celebrated with a gift from Tiffany. Today, people across emerging markets recognise this pragmatic spirit and sense of luxury. But paradoxically, it is in Europe that Jon King sees the greatest potential for Tiffany. WorldTempus will soon present the brand’s new flagship store in Geneva, the symbol of Tiffany’s return to watchmaking.