With its history dating back to Havana in 1882, Cuervo y Sobrinos enjoys one of the watch industry’s most interesting histories. Of course Cuba with its highly educated and entrepreneurial population, and close proximity to the United States enjoyed close connections until Fidel Castro came into power in 1959.
In addition to being a retailer of timepieces and jewelry, the company also manufactured its own watches in Switzerland. Clark Gable, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemmingway were all clients at its premises in Havana.
The revolution ended Cuervo y Sobrinos distribution in the United States until current owner Marzio Villa, a successful businessman and watch distributor in Spain, brought the brand back to America. 2014 marks the 10th year of the return, and to celebrate the company has released a special limited edition in its Historiador collection. Its 50-piece run is a tribute to the 50 states with a handsome guilloche blue dial.
Managing Director Massimo Rossi says, “The watches are very nice.” However, as a small brand, “You need visibility. You need to be seen in the right places (but) once we can get the consumer to know the watch, they buy it.”
Timepieces come in a transformed humidor adding to the romance of Havana in mid-last century. Interestingly, two of the brand’s strongest markets are Japan and China, and Rossi says, in America the watches have become a popular representation of the close connection between the two countries in the early to mid 20th century.
While the company is today headquartered in Switzerland, in 2009 it re-opened a presence in Cuba with a 1,700 square feet boutique and museum in its origin country’s capital.