Eberhard & Co stands out for its disarming consistency. The brand is stable and has had just two managing families since its inception, including the founding family for nearly a century. It is still focused on the same area of activity – namely chronograph and beautiful vintage watchmaking in tune with current codes. It surrounds itself with a community of unfailingly loyal fans. And whereas a single director often managers to trigger incessant infighting, Eberhard & Co is managed by… a team of two!
Within this tandem, Barbara Monti had not been in the spotlight very much until recently. Her Managing Director, Mario Peserico, who has been with the company for 25 years, was the one in the news. Barbara Monti is now emerging from the shadows, albeit somewhat cautiously, but her stature as a female CEO in the watch industry is enough to arouse interest without her needing to deliberately seek exposure.
"Women have an innate sense of aesthetics which, combined with technical knowhow, can represent added value for watchmaking."
Nature, nurture and solid experience
While such a position has undoubtedly been held by a number of illustrious women, such cases are nonetheless rare. “I don’t see the fact that I am a woman as being a disadvantage, especially in the watchmaking world” smiles Barbara Monti. “Mechanical watchmaking requires technical studies as well as knowledge of the most recent developments, which can apply equally to men or women”.
In short, the qualities required are the same irrespective of gender, even though the Eberhard & Co ranges tend to lean more naturally towards a mainly masculine clientele and its concomitant environment. Despite this, Barbara Monti is keen to point out a “little extra” with which the fair sex is endowed: “I think women have an innate sense of aesthetics which, combined with technical knowhow, can represent added value for watchmaking.”
From design to the CNC
This company leader puts these qualities to the test on a daily basis. “Eberhard & Co is a brand which has always focused on the product – more than any other aspect of its activity. I am therefore directly involved in the development of each model. From design and development right through to production, I follow each step alongside the respective teams.”
"Eberhard & Co has never taken the route of easy innovations which wear out in a few seasons."
So what is Eberhard & Co’s product strategy? Recently, multiple coloured versions of its Chrono 4 may have given some people the idea that the company is heading towards less perennial products targeting a wider audience. This is not the case. “Since 1887, the chronograph has truly been our strong point, but Eberhard & Co has never taken the route of easy innovations which wear out in a few seasons. We are proud of the enduring nature of our collections, some of which have been in the catalogue for decades. Take the Tribute to Contograf, for example, which was our major 2014 launch: it was introduced in the 60s and has remained highly sought after due to the many milestone innovations along its path to date.”
Consistency as a strategy
Eberhard & Co remains true to its consistency and coherence. “We keep our distance from the kind of prolific brands which operate on the basis of opportunism,” emphasises Barbara Monti. “The coherence of our strategy depends on the perennial nature of our range.”
The brand will thus continue to offer its best-sellers, such as the 8 Days collection, which has been around for more than 15 years. And the recipe clearly works, since “this Baselworld was one of the richest and most significant in the past few years” as Barbara Monti is keen to point out.
Certain brands at this year’s watch show made swift forays into the field of Fine Watchmaking in order to confirm (and demonstrate to any who doubted it) their technical expertise, just as Baume & Mercier had done at the SIHH 2014 with a tourbillon. Is this something that Eberhard & Co might consider? “We have a number of projects” says Barbara Monti, “but they won’t be a show of force. To present a new, truly finished product, we need to have the assurance that it brings something truly new to the market.”