Antonio Calce CEO Girard-Perregaux
People by Horbiter®
Tuning with Antonio Calce is a matter of moments. You sit next to him during an evening, in which Girard-Perregaux invited the specialized press to the Terrazza Gallia and, after a few moments, it seems as if you have known each other since forever. It is a gift that only a few top executives and even fewer CEOs all over the world have, and he does have the gift alright! He is an anti-divo in the modern panorama of watch-making leaders, he displays a sober and measured personality that fully reflects in the powerful shaking that he gave to Girard-Perregaux; a manufactory that needs no introduction, but that actually needed all of his qualities placed the right context and synthesized.
Girard-Perregaux was the first manufactory I visited and, after many years and after visiting many others, I can only say that it is one of the most vivid memories that, as a fan, I still treasure. I am not equipped with pen and notebook when I am asked to interview someone, because I consider that type of interview a bit old fashion, and, as a non-professional journalist, I prefer to leave it to the real professionals and rather follow the format of “a conversation between enthusiasts” instead.
With Antonio Calce, you naturally talk about the product and since I am an avid product fan and I come from the world of manufacturing, this is also the best way to talk about watches. His arrival coincided with a complete refocusing on the product itself, but some of your might say: "Before his arrival in Girard-Perregaux, wasn’t the product at the centre of everything already?"
It was, but its full potential was not fully expressed; you simply need to visit the current official website and compare it with the old one to understand this revolution. It was a simple operation that took place when new communication process was launched in 2016 and when the two sites still co-existed. The collections have been revamped and focus has been placed on watches that have made the recent history of this brand becoming real milestones, like the Laureato that represents the pillar of the brand’s offer and the new sport image of Girard-Perregaux. After the 225th anniversary celebrations in 2016, the Laureato that was designed by an Italian architect and not by Gerald Genta as many believe (me included to be fully honest) was declined into different complications...
not only the Tourbillon but also the Skeleton; the only skeletonized sports watch made of steel within its range and the only watch that has a skeletonized structure that enriches without "confusing" the wearer - as it is usually the case with most skeletonized watches, in which the details and the extremely refined manufacturing and decoration prevail over the overall and non-existent design. The Laureato Skeleton has a design that is clearly inspired by nature; the dial seems to reproduce the wings of a butterfly and is perfectly readable.
There is no room for ambassadors and partnerships in the world of Girard-Perregaux - intended as co-branding projects or joint product developments that are overly present in the world of watch-making. The perception, and the confirmation, is that of a brand that wants to focus its attention on products that abide by the brand's pillars like product and history, or that demonstrate that Girard-Perregaux's R&D (Research and Deveopment) department is fully capable of projecting itself into the future without hiding its history; my thought goes immediately to the Neo Bridges and the unceasing development of quartz technology.
The brand also continues to reiterate what it has done in the world of haute horlogerie by reinforcing its worldwide leadership in creating three-axis tourbillons; a complication within the complication that very few other brands actually decide to go for and, moreover, with such a range depth.
The difference lies in the ability to express itself with a stronger romanticism than in the past and demonstrate its skills in the manufacturing of a golden bridge; something that reminds us of decorative art and that translates into the crafting of the globe of the Planetarium Tri-Axial, which marks the difference in comparison with the current Tri-Axial. A super-complicated watch of rare expressive power. From my conversation with Antonio Calce, to which I added my personal current brand perception, you can easily understand that there is an exemplary clarity on the brand's mission, the first stage of consolidation of the new offer that envisages a broadening aimed at filling the gap between the access range and the top range (I personally hope the void will be filled with a perpetual calendar and a rattrapante). Avoiding the unnecessary proliferation of references and working incessantly to improve the details of current collections. Details were, in some cases, the weaknesses of the exiting collections, but if you take your last 1966 WWTC in your hands, you will realize that the step forward that was taken is quite tangible. Among the new future ideas there is also the development of quartz; Girard-Perregaux was not a follower in the 70s, but rather the Swiss brand that invested the greatest amount of resources in this technology.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Girard-Perregaux, Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®