june 2017
may 2017

lively cross-talk with Carlos Rosillo, CEO of Bell & Ross

Cut and Thrust

Cut and thrust:

 

lively cross-talk with Carlos Rosillo,

CEO of Bell & Ross

 

You’d been friends for over twenty years before you started working together; that’s an amazingly long time!

Carlos Rosillo: We took the time to learn to dance together – and to grow up!

Laurent Picciotto: I remember the early days very well. I even wanted to become a shareholder, but you wouldn’t let me!

Carlos Rosillo: (laughter) Are you still holding that against me?

Laurent Picciotto: I’ve got over it! Seriously though, I’ve been following the brand ever since it took its first steps. I found it to be brilliant – and above all, no-nonsense. Bell & Ross has made its own way, perfectly mapped out, without ever straying from the path.

Carlos Rosillo: And I well remember Chronopassion’s original motto, too: “Discover, understand, own.” It’s still very appropriate, and we’ve applied it to ourselves. You mustn’t force things. You have to find the right time. I knew that Laurent owned a few models personally, but of course that wasn’t a commitment on the part of either of our brands. Our respective clients had to connect first. Building bridges is the hardest part, whether it’s between customers, retailers, brands or whole worlds. Doing so takes time. I knew that Laurent and I would work together one day, but first of all the firm’s identity needed to be more finely honed; to have achieved a defining cultural moment, if you like.

And when did that moment come?

Laurent Picciotto: As far as I’m concerned, it was with the B-Rocket. Carlos and I used to see each other regularly to talk about Bell & Ross’ new projects. I was already enthralled by their universe and the meticulous workmanship that went into it – but with the B-Rocket, it was love at first sight.

Carlos Rosillo: Without betraying any confidences, I think I can reveal that when it came out, the very first person to ring me was Laurent. He had just one question: “how much?” Sorry, it’s not for sale!

And what’s your relationship like now?

Laurent Picciotto: We’ve decided not to do any segmentation. We carry a large part of the Bell & Ross range, from the entry-level standard collections right through to the highly limited-edition box sets. That’s not our usual way of working, but it’s the best way of illustrating this particular brand’s consistency. And right from the first week on display, we saw sales from across the whole gamut – to very different clients.

 

 

Carlos Rosillo: Price segmentation is a very arbitrary way of doing things. We go from two thousand euros right up to a million dollars. Personally I’m more of a believer in a distinction between mass and exclusive brands. Exclusive, ‘club’ brands engage those who believe in an authentic brand and its strategy – and Laurent and I are both independents, so we’re not dictated to by multinationals as to which range or segment we should be operating in. That means we have to be absolutely on-message.

Both of you embody iconic brands. Is that what brought you together?

Carlos Rosillo: Perhaps, but iconic products belong to individual people, not to any given brand. What makes them iconic is the way they’re taken up and used, and the story that people weave around them. In short, it’s all about their added soul.

Laurent Picciotto: As well as being iconic, Bell & Ross is a brand that has found an enthusiastic public. And those people aren’t segmented into ranges! The brand attracts people from among our usual customers – and others who’d never even been into the store before. Young men and old love to show off their new toys, whether they cost five thousand euros or five million.

Carlos Rosillo: These iconic items definitely needed a shrine, and now Laurent’s opened one for us. He’s our Bell & Ross evangelist!

The B-Rocket was a turning point for both of you. It’s an amazing creation. Could you imagine coming up with something that embodies both of your worlds?

Laurent Picciotto: (pensively) Why not? We’re looking at a number of ideas... But first of all we need to consolidate and strengthen our collaboration, before we go any further and allow ourselves the luxury of coming up with a new toy. As ever, it’s all about timing. To do something, there has to be a good reason.

Carlos Rosillo: We’re thinking along the same lines in-house. We brought out our first military tourbillons when we’d reached the right level of maturity. We had sufficient legitimacy to explain to our clients how this move was logical and rational given our history and skills. The important thing for us is to ensure our creations really do have good value – and that kind of value has nothing to do with price.

 

Interview by Olivier Müller