Stay on top of all watchmaking news ! OK

This search is sponsored by BEHRENS

Search in :
Bianchet - Rodolfo Festa Bianchet on What Makes the Brand Tick

Bianchet Rodolfo Festa Bianchet on What Makes the Brand Tick

And what’s in the pipeline for the future of this upcoming young brand

Let’s start at the very beginning, how did the brand come into being?

Basically, we sold our FinTech company in 2017 and I was wondering what to do next. After 30 years in the business, I just decided to move into watches. At the time, I was looking at watches on the Internet and I realized that the market had changed. I started to buy some micro brands and one night, when I was living in Mallorca, I thought, “I can do this! I can create a watch brand”. Watches are the love of my life; they always have been. Actually, my first job was selling watches. 

When was this?

When I was 19, I had some friends who started a watch company called Locman in Italy. I was their first-ever salesman and the president and founder, Marco Montovani, is a friend of mine from when we were young. So, all these things came together and I didn’t really think too much about it; I just did it. The first idea was to make a watch for around $600 and we ended up at $55,000 with a high-end tourbillon timepiece!

How has the adventure been so far? It has been a rock ‘n’ roll couple of years for everyone. 

Covid was great for us. After we presented the first prototype in Basel in 2019, we got a lot of feedback. Basically, we didn’t know much about the industry, so it was good. We bought a CNC machine. We changed the design and did some prototyping. We learned how to build a watch from the mechanism to the case. This really helped, as in the second phase, when we started to work with subcontractors, I actually knew what they were talking about. So, it has been a great journey and these two years of hard work, without having the pressure to sell, allowed us to focus on the product and enhance its quality, improving many details as “the devil is in the details”. This has paid off. Last year, we sold our entire production of 126 watches plus 10 bespoke timepieces.  

You work with your wife. Do you have different talents? 

We have been working together for 25 years. We do everything together, but we divide the responsibilities. I take care of the strategy and vision as I know where I want to go, but I am not a man of details. Emmanuelle has a laser-sharp focus. It is amazing, she has the mind of an engineer, but she is also an artist as she is a musician and painter. I have never seen anyone so detail-orientated. On top of being a French native, her sophisticated taste, nautral class and skills have immensely helped Bianchet enter the Haute Horlogerie segment. 

How would you describe the watches?

I think they are a mix of classical as we use the golden ratio, but they are also high-tech with the materials that we use. So, it is a mix of contemporary and timelessness. That’s how I would describe them. It is sort of like a Maserati GranTurismo, which is also designed using the golden ratio. The design is very classic with its flowing lines, but it is also high-tech and cutting-edge. The result is kind of a sophisticated cool style. 

Rodolfo Festa Bianchet on What Makes the Brand Tick

Tourbillon B1.618 Openwork Carbon Limited Edition Red © Bianchet

Where do you make your movements?

We started with Tech Ebauche but now we are making our own tourbillon  movements totally in-house and we have around 15 to 20 suppliers in Switzerland that provide us with all the components we design. It is a lot of work as you have to control every part but you have better control over production and quality. 

When you look back over the last couple of years, what surprises you the most?

That I am still here! I was not aware of how difficult it would be. I thought that software was complicated but this is way more complex. If you have a bug in the software, you just rewrite the code, which admittedly isn’t always that easy, but at least you don’t have to completely redo a piece, like you do in watchmaking.  

Is there anything in the pipeline that you can share with us?

We have a new model coming out this year, I don’t want to tell you too much at this stage, but it’s a new step in the right direction. 

If you met someone who was thinking of starting their own watch brand, what advice would you give them?

That’s a tough question. I think you really need to follow your heart. If you are doing it for a business, it is probably not a good idea. It is a super competitive industry. So, in retrospect, it is an amazing learning curve. I now understand why watches are made in Switzerland as all the know-how is here and people that are from the industry have a clear advantage. For a newcomer, I would wish him luck. But then again, if someone has something in their heart and they really want to do it, it will work in the end.



Recommended reading

Watch Finder

Search by:

Find your watch >

The brand

Bianchet, a young, 100% independent watch brand, designs and develops its own meticulously modern watches that place the tourbillon at the centre of an openworked architecture with lines inspired by the golden ratio.

Find out more >

All the news >

Contact brand >

All the watches >