Hausmann can look back on almost 225 years of clock and watchmaking history in the capital city of Rome where it has made timepieces for some extremely prestigious clients – the Orologio Farnesiano was restored for the Vatican.
Originally producing its own clocks and watches, Hausmann later added many of the top Swiss brands to its portfolio. Ten years ago the company diversified into jewellery, focusing on high-end, exclusive designs. It has recently created a special ompetition piece, inspired by the work of Bernini.
“Watches and jewellery naturally have a very close connection, and after a long tradition in clocks and watches, jewellery found its place in our soul,” recounts Managing Director Francesco Hausmann, who joined the family concern 26 years ago.
The firm was established in 1794 as a small workshop in Rome by Innocenzo Ricci; he was joined in the 1870s by expert German clockmaker Ernst Hausmann who later took over the company and was followed by generations of Hausmann and Frielingsdorf (the ‘& Co’ which is still very much part of the firm) family members.
“In 2019 we are planning a huge celebration to mark our 225th anniversary,” says Francesco Hausmann. “We have a long and rich history, but since I joined the firm in 1991, we have undergone a very fast evolution. At that time, we still placed huge value on tradition and we dealt with many other family firms. Watchmaking was a very personal affair. Over time, large distributors entered the picture, and we now work with many multinational concerns. When we opened our second branch in Via Condotti in 2001, it was an opportunity to update our image. We consciously chose a modern design for the premises, which has since influenced many other companies. The perception of Hausmann was transformed from traditional to inspirational. In 2010 we opened another branch, the most important step which sealed our transition from small, family firm to a structured business.”
Today, Hausmann has three branches, and a laboratory with ten watchmakers. “We are one of the few with such a workshop,” points out Mr. Hausmann. “To be honest, it is not really economical, but it is important for our image and we will continue to invest in it. It is the soul of the company.”
Not only the company has evolved, but its customer base too. Until 2000, the USA was a key export market; today Asian clients from China, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as Russians form a large proportion of Hausmann’s market. 70% of the firm’s turnover is generated from exports.
“In Italy we sell to many tourists, and we are hoping that the home market will grow,” adds Mr. Hausmann. It is obvious from his enthusiasm that watchmaking is in Mr. Hausmann’s blood. “Watches bring together mechanics and art, it is almost spiritual,” he emphasizes. “To build a watch takes patience and dexterity – the parts are microscopic and must be handled extremely carefully. That takes time, and it is no coincidence that the Swiss watchmakers, who were snowed in in the valleys for weeks and months, were the first to produce the wristwatch.”
Marketing for Hausmann is a careful balance of communication between its history and tradition and the portrayal of the firm as it operates in 2017. “We try to downplay the tradition a little; it quietly underpins the modern, innovative firm that we have become. If we are still here in another 200 years, tradition will certainly play a role in that, but it should not weigh us down,” stresses the Managing Director. Hausmann has become well established in the global market.
“We are no longer a local firm, we have to pay close attention to what is happening in the world. The watch industry has become very international and we try to stay in touch with the trends. For economic reasons, people today are more reflective; in Europe in particular they steer away from being too ostentatious. In other regions it is different. The largest proportion of our clients are from Asia; even so, Switzerland last year experienced a brief slowdown because Asian clients were buying less. Nevertheless, I see the firm becoming even stronger and better. We are constantly developing and have many ideas and new projects on the go,” Mr. Hausmann sums up.