Guido Terreni does not believe in love at first sight. He spent 20 years cultivating a yen for timepieces at Bvlgari, where he was president of the watchmaking division from 2010. When asked about the moment he fell in love with timepieces - it is a must when you stay in the trade for anything close to 20 years - his response is one of impressive candour, and confidence. Plenty of storytellers in watchmaking, and Terreni is a true believer in the power of stories, would seize the opportunity to wax lyrical about some fateful conjunction of the stars that would eventually relate to their most recent chapter at brand X, Y or Z. Not Terreni though.
It is still chilly in Switzerland when we commenced our conversation about Parmigiani Fleurier, where Terreni has taken over as CEO from Davide Traxler. Of course, our chat was digitally enabled, for which we are thankful. Connecting directly with watchmakers and watchmaking executives is deeply important to us - video also allows us to use more of our senses to build a story. The connection that brought Terreni to Switzerland - he is a native of Milan, Italy, and graduated in Economics at the Luigi Bocconi University in that city happened to be love, but not of watches.
Terreni quit his job with Danone and moved to Switzerland to be with his girlfriend. This was when he joined the watchmaking division of the Bulgari Group, back in 2000. He rose through the ranks there over the course of 10 years, before taking the reins of the watchmaking division in 2010. Those of you who know your horological history will recognise Terreni’s name, and might recall him talking about the legacy of Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth at Bulgari, after the group decided to absorb those two storied names.
From that time, to the time he left, watchmaking at Bvlgari (which we distinguish post LVMH and pre LVMH with this spelling convention) became steadily more accomplished, winning over sceptics while keeping the faith with brand loyalists. It was by no means an assured outcome, but Terreni was a key part of the success. Now, more than 20 years after he began his journey into the world of Swiss watchmaking, he has a new challenge on his hands. Oh, and his girlfriend - the one who brought him to Switzerland? She’s still a part of his story, now as his wife.
Tell us about your start in the watchmaking trade.
When I arrived in 2000, I was coming from fastmoving goods and moving to a luxury brand. I had to understand all the different aspects - the logic and craft - that push the luxury business. The power of luxury is in the ideas. The simpler the ideas, the more powerful they are, and the more difficult they are to execute. The soul of a brand is something you have to identify with - Parmigiani Fleurier has a delicate and understated soul. It takes time to build a relationship with any brand. I don’t believe in these managers who take on luxury brands for two or three years and then move on. They don’t even understand what they have touched in that time.
You spent 20 years at Bvlgari. This is a rarity in this business these days, but you are in good company this issue! Tell us about what this time meant to you.
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