Our Exclusive Interview With Daniel Paltridge, President Of BVLGARI, North America
The president of Bvlgari North America talks of his passion for the Octo Finissimo collection, what’s next for the brand, and how he balances his time.
Daniel Paltridge is a master multi-tasker. As the President of Bvlgari North America, Paltridge overseas all activities of the famous Roman Jeweler. From watches to the ever-important jewelry in the brand's collection, Paltridge does it all. We recently sat down with Paltridge to better understand just how he does it all. Read on!
The Octo Evolution
Alexander Friedman: Daniel, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. My first question is, the Octo. You’ve had tremendous success with the Octo collection. How has it affected the brand? How has it been received in the US?
Daniel Paltridge: It's been just over five years now since the Octo was introduced. What's interesting is not only its shape but its evolution. Every year it's gained more popularity, and more people are talking about it. I think it's a sign of something which is going to last for quite some years now. It's a design that people recognize and identify with.
DP (continued): People are excited to see new pieces every year. There's a great demand for the Octo and every year the sales have increased. It's now our best-selling men's line, in quite a short time. It's not just the aesthetics, and it's the combination of the design that Fabrizio [Buonamassa] created and the craftsmanship inside the watch. When we introduced ultra-thin movements in the Octo Finissimo, it created this magical combination that I think is unique on the market.
You May Have to Wait
AF: Is it true that some of your boutiques have a waiting list for the watch?
DP: Yes, some of them! Which is a nice position to be in. The stores don't like it because they want watches on hand to sell all the time. But honestly, it shows there is a demand that we have to catch up with because people are coming and asking for it. And whenever we launch new models during fairs, we immediately have people calling up and asking to buy the new watches.
Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship Led the Way for Watches
AF: Bvlgari is mainly known for jewelry, but watches are gaining importance for you. What push are you making to gain more horological legitimacy here in the US?
DP: It starts first and foremost with the brand’s recognition here, and then you get into the watch legitimacy. Bvlgari has been present in the US since the 1970s, when Nicola Bulgari, the grandson of the founder, sold high-end pieces of jewelry out of his briefcase in the Pierre Hotel in New York. Now of course, it’s different. When you have a brand as successful as Bvlgari, it's always a step in the right direction. We're a jeweler, but we have a very strong legitimacy in watchmaking. We're Swiss made as all our watchmaking facilities are in Switzerland. We have Italian style married with Swiss craftsmanship, which is unique. And the story we tell in the US market is a dichotomy between the two: We have Italian design, made in Switzerland. The one thing that makes our jewelry stand out is the craftsmanship that goes into them.
Paltridge’s Balancing Act
AF: What’s your typical day like? How do you switch between these two different areas?
DP: I don't really think about it as, "Okay, which portion of it is going to be watches? Which portion of it is going to be jewelry?" I never say, "Have I dedicated 20 hours this week to watches or 15 hours to jewelry?" It's more like, "Have we managed to make our products resonate and shine under the brand umbrella?" Because, at the end of the day, the brand is the most important thing. In our office in New York, we have the watch and jewelry teams sitting right next to each other.
High Jewelry Meets Haute Horlogerie
AF: You've just successfully launched a new jewelry collection, Wild Pop. It's very lovely, very young, very sparkly and colorful. How are you going to reach this younger generation? Do you have a specific, personal view on how to communicate with this crowd?
DP: What we did with Wild Pop was interesting. We have a theme every year, which we then communicate in a vivacious and energetic way. So, last summer was Wild Pop, and this summer will be another theme that will unveil within the High Jewelry Collection in June. In the Wild Pop collection, there are several ladies’ high-end watches. I think we can introduce haute horlogerie and high jewelry within the same collection. Our clients bought a number of pieces last summer. The watches have unique craftsmanship that’s very Bvlgari.
Now there is a multitude of channels you can use to talk to people. There's traditional press, new press, and directly through our own social media channels as well. I think, you've got to use all of them. You can't just say one's better, or one's worse than the other.
The Allure of Italy
AF: Bvlgari is truly Italian. People love Italy for style, the dolce vita, the food, and more. How do you think this attraction to Italy, affects American clientele?
DP: I think we're quite lucky in the US because Italy is a country that Americans love. I think it's the number one country that Americans travel to each summer. We say we're Italian quite a lot, and we reiterate to people that Bvlgari is a Roman brand. We also go into more in-depth into the story of what's Italian, the design, the lifestyle, and living with passion.
AF: What do you have on the plate, in terms of managing the company, here in the US? Is there a way to do things differently than the headquarters in Rome?
DP: Honestly, we have quite a good working relationship with the team in Rome. I think I’m quite privileged to have a very supportive and very strategic HQ in Rome. I’m also given the flexibility and managerial autonomy to put things in place in the US market that I think are going to resonate here. So, that’s actually a perfect combination. I don’t worry too much about that.
What’s on His Wrist
AF: Last question, do you have a favorite watch? One that you cherish more than others?
DP: [Laughs] The one I'm wearing right now! The Octo Finissimo in titanium, which was the record breaker that we launched in Basel two years ago. It is unique for me for two reasons. One because launching it in Basel was a great memory, and now it's our best-selling men's watch line. It's also a memento of how far we've come in the last two years, which is wonderful.