The Rare Watch Man: Episode 6

Continuing the story of how Roberto Chiappelloni’s 30-year-old business, Manfredi Jewels, became one the of leading watch stores in the world…

A common theme throughout Roberto’s story is how throughout history men have always been fascinated by the mechanical wonders of the world. But how has technology changed this experience?

Roberto is told that celebrations never go out of great favor and Manfredi is making a proud business of helping people celebrate. 

Roberto says his store is dedicated to delivering wonderful time pieces and the human experience. He shares that if you take five minutes to interact with any of his clients you will realize almost every sale is tied to something celebratory.

Debbie shares that when you are a recipient of a piece of jewelry for a special occasion it never leaves you; it’s one of the most special things. 

Roberto agrees. He says, if you ask, a customer will share that their watch may have three generations of engraving, or they’ll come in to repair a chain they say they can never leave home without. Roberto says, you just can’t do that online.  

However, he goes on to say that the future is the future and most of us will not be able to predict the habits or the ways of how young people will purchase these wonderful items. 

After sharing that a customer brought in their great grandfather’s pocket watch to assess, Roberto is asked will this continue to happen in next generations? Will fine time pieces still be invested in and passed on?

Roberto says that he will have to believe it will. He continues by saying that if we look back to the mid-seventies mechanical watches were told to become extinct. New technology kept perfect time better than any mechanical watch ever could and the luxury watch industry, as it was known, almost disappeared. Now it’s back stronger than ever.

Roberto is praised for training young people to understand his business. He is told that he is giving an usual gift by teaching his interns this craft. 

Roberto talks about how he encourages every company to have some ability to train young people in trades, technology and skills on a stronger level than an internship. He shares that an internship is just the base of showing someone what you do and exposing them to your business. He however, is a great proponent of apprenticeships. 

He says that it’s disappearing and it used to be a way of life. He goes on to say how apprenticeships actually put hands on, on the skill; skills that are disappearing, for example a goldsmith, diamond setter and watch repairman. Roberto says these skills are extremely well rewarded and respected but “you can't fake it, it has to be learned over a long period of time.”

Roberto is asked whether he believes you have to come from a family of certain trade to be interested and want to learn more about it. Do young people respect the business and want to learn it? 

Roberto says that as much as technology is replacing many trades, he believes that hands on skills such as basic plumbing and electricians will be in demand more than ever. 

Roberto talks about how hand engraving watch making is long gone. He says, almost every person working in the industry is 50 years or older. 

Roberto is then asked whether engraving enhances or lessens the value of a time piece. He responds that if it is a decorative it enhances the value; however, if the engraving is personal it enhances the meaning. 

In terms of resale value, Roberto says decorative engraving will always enhance the value but if a time piece says, “I Love You” it probably will not be as valuable when sold again. 

Roberto is then asked whether you can erase engravings. He shares that it is difficult and only possible if the engraving is done extremely lightly, as they have to remove a lot of metal and gold. 

Still focusing on the theme of change within the industry, Roberto is asked, as many stores go out of business around the country and the world, what can he share of his strong suit with entrepreneurs in keeping store presence and making sure he remains when other cannot. 

Roberto says his goal is still the goal from when he started. That is, superior customer service, the ability to deliver a product that delivers more than was promised and value. He goes on to say that value is very important but too many people forget what luxury means. He says, “you hear this word all day long ‘luxury this, luxury that’ but luxury starts when you have an issue.”

Continue listening for more on the story of Roberto and Manfredi Jewels…

"If you do something you have passion for, life is easy." - Roberto Chiappelloni