Interview: Enrico Margaritelli, Glam Rock Founder and CEO
by Daniel Haim
The brainchild of husband and wife watch designer team Enrico Margaritelli and Isabelle Maujean, Glam Rock is one of those rare watch companies that seamlessly fuses sophistication and trendiness. Their highly customizable watches, featuring interchangeable bezels and straps, are sported by everyone from NFL players to A-list celebrities at every occasion.
Daniel Haim interviews Glam Rock Founder and CEO Enrico Margaritelli. Enrico takes us through the process of designing Glam Rock, from conception to packaging, includes us on what fuels his love of watches, and shares some of the lessons he’s learned from giants in the field of fashion.
Daniel: When did all of this start for you?
Enrico: My family has been in the watch business for a long time, and I am now the third generation working in the watch business . At the age of 21, I started my first brand. I later became partner of Fossil Italy , organized the arrival of Fossil in Europe, started the license of Emporio Armani watches and then moved to Dallas and became President of the License and Luxury Division of the Fossil Group.
Daniel: Did you always have a “watch thing” ?
Enrico: Yes, always! It started with a passion for Vintage watches and then moved to the Fashion and designer styles.
Daniel: What was the first “real” watch that you bought for yourself, or that was gifted to you?
Enrico: A Seiko.
Daniel: What is your favorite watch brand and why?
Enrico: Bell& Ross is one my favorites. The styles have great design, high level of details, and more instruments than a simple watch .
Daniel: Let’s talk about Glam Rock. Where did the name come from?
Enrico: From Isabelle , my wife and partner. She went to L.A. during the period we were looking for our new brand and she called me saying she found the perfect name – Glam Rock.
Daniel: How did Glam Rock manage to rock it’s way into the watch business so easily?
Enrico: Many years of business experience. For the last 10 years, I was always working and collaborating with some of the best fashion geniuses of our time: Giorgio Armani, with whom from day one I created the Emporio Armani Orologi and Gioielli, Philippe Starck, with whom I created the first P.Starck by Fossil digital watch , Renzo Rosso of Diesel and I worked on a great watch collection and Rosemarie Bravo of Burberry. I was able to learn something from each of them and in the few years since starting Glam Rock, I have always tried to keep in mind the great schooling I had from them.
Daniel: I love the packaging of Glam Rock. It’s so luxurious! Take us through the creative process of choosing the packaging and designing it.
Enrico: Philippe Stark taught me how to use colors to create a surprise when a customer opens his or her gift: solid and elegant colors on the outside and strong colors on the inside are key. The surprise is followed by a smile.
Daniel: What did the first Glam Rock watch look like as far as deign goes, and do you still carry that design within your collection?
Enrico: The first watch was also the first design. It is from the Miami Collection, the one I still wear every day and enjoy as if it was the first time.
Daniel: The SoBe watches are actually patented. How did the bezel idea develop into what it is today?
Enrico: When you love your business, you never stop working. New ideas can happen any time of the day or the night. In the case of our Sobe Collection, Venanzio Ciampa of The Promotion Factory always explained to me that our Glam Rock Case Covers were a great idea, but they were not easy to change because they required a small screwdriver. A few days later, I was walking inside a Best Buy store and I saw a new headset which was offering a customization option with different colors . After few seconds, SoBe was already designed in my mind. The following day I was already working with Isabelle and creating the best technical solution for Gam Rock. This happened in February 2010. By August, we were already able to show the samples to our U.S. buyers and by December the watches were on the market .
Daniel: How long does it usually take to design a watch?
Enrico: As far as the ideas themselves, some come to me fast, but the whole process, from the first sketch and technical drawings to sample creation and store deliveries, normally takes 12 months.
Daniel: Who came up with the Glam Rock faces and designs?
Enrico: It started one night. I woke up and immediately designed the watch. Then I attached the watch on Isabelle’s mirror and when she saw the first sketch she immediately said: “This is our watch.” Since then we frequently follow the same process. I create a design and show it to Isabelle. If it speaks to her, we create the sample and go from there.
Daniel: How do you know when a project is complete?
Enrico: Instinct and personal feeling. I need to feel that I could wear that watch.
Daniel: If you were not a watch designer, what would you like to design (or re-design) ?
Enrico: Houses and furniture.
Daniel: Are you an art fan? If so, what are some artists you’ve been inspired by recently?
Enrico: Yes, I am. Rothko is one of my favorites. He can make me feel so strange with his super modern art from around 1920, a time when Modern Art was not yet existing . Another favorite of mine is Modigliani. When I have a free mind, I sometimes paint my own art. I have a few of my own pieces at home.
Daniel: You’ve lived in completely different parts of the world (Mauritius and now Miami). How do you think the watch world is different in those different environments?
Enrico: Opposite sides of the world means an opposite interpretation of the style of a watch. Mauritius is a French colony where the local trend is being understated and maintaining a low profile. Miami, on the contrary, is THE SHOW OFF place. Both places are very different from where I am from in Italy, where the level of quality and technicality of watches is often more important than the design or the brand.
Daniel: Are they buying for the same reasons in both places? Do they think the same when purchasing a product?
Enrico: In Mauritius they look for a watch that can be worn for a long time, in Miami they look for the latest trend.
Daniel: So I hear you’re working with your wife. What are some of the pros and cons to working with your spouse? (Hope I don’t get you into trouble!)
Enrico: It all depends on the level of complicity you have with your partner. In a business relationship, you normally work for money with short time vision. With a family partner, you need to have mutual respect and high complicity, then look for long term business. You need and want to share details of each project and you always look for the other’s approval before saying “OK, let’s do that.”
Daniel: What’s next for Glam Rock?
Enrico: A men’s Sport Collection, sunglasses and ready to wear.