As the man in charge of creating outstanding watches for Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo, Paolo Marai knows a thing or two about Italian style. Here, he tells us about his greatest creations, everyday luxury and the world of watchmaking today
What drives you to develop new and more technical complications each year?
We are passionate about bringing the fashion elements of Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo into the development of technical complications each year. Our passion is driven by our consumers’ desire and appreciation for special functions, innovation, complexity and precision, yet design remains our main goal.
Where does the role of the fashion watch sit within the world of watchmaking?
The role of fashion watches within watchmaking is simple. Timepieces from fashion brands such as Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo offer a combination of well-built, high-quality components with the brand’s natural flair for design, all at a luxury yet affordable price tag.
Which launches are you most proud of?
We have launched many exciting watches over the past few years, including Salvatore Ferragamo’s Swiss-made patented quartz movement launched in 2016 – the Cuore Ferragamo. Last year also saw the launch of Salvatore Ferragamo’s first smart watch, the F-80 Motion. However, I am particularly proud of this year’s collections from both Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace timepieces, as we have looked to each brand’s archives for inspiration. For example, the new Fiore collection draws inspiration from the heel of Salvatore Ferragamo’s classic Fiore shoe design, launched in 1947. The collection features the original flower-shaped case, which is also reflected in the stunning dial decoration.
How would you describe the Versace watch customer?
The Versace customer is interested in exceptionally crafted designs that combine luxury and style, while including core elements of what the brand is renowned for – bold style at the forefront of fashion. He or she is vibrant, edgy, sophisticated and full of self-confidence.
How would you describe the Salvatore Ferragamo watch customer?The Salvatore Ferragamo customer is defined by their strong personality and is passionate about special pieces with unique traits. The customer is highly sophisticated and stylish.
Do you think that customers discover the fashion brands first and come to the watches later or do you find the watches sometimes draw people into the brand?
Although Salvatore Ferragamo is famous for shoes and Versace is renowned for statement prints and luxury eveningwear, designer watches often draw new customers in. In some markets, watches are the avant-garde of the brand itself.
How important is it to stay true to a fashion brand’s aesthetics when designing the watches?
This is really important. We work extremely closely with each brand’s in-house design team, ensuring there is a seamless design direction of the brand in each and every collection. Whether inspired by the rigorous detail of Salvatore Ferragamo or the flamboyant, bold style of Versace, each brand’s DNA is translated into every timepiece we make.
How closely do you work with the Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo maisons when finalising watch designs?
All themes and inspiration for each season are driven by the team at each maison. These ideas are then carried through to the timepiece designs. The timepieces are very much designed to sit as part of the wider collection and ready-to-wear, so it is essential we are all working as part of a team and share the same vision for each season.
How important is innovation and new technology in the watch industry?
It is a beautiful balancing act between creating a collection that is classic and easily recognised as Versace or Salvatore Ferragamo, but pushes the boundaries when it comes to innovation.
What’s next for Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo watches?
A lot of new ideas are under test to be brought to market in 2019. Some technology (not smart) and owned movement are our main directions at present.