Saturday, February 20, 2016

Remembering Severin Wunderman

The "foundation" story of Gucci Watches is one of legend.  I had the very great pleasure of spending a few days with two self-proclaimed "Children of Severin" back in November.  By that, they meant that they cut their teeth, made their bones with Gucci Watches back in the day.  Needless to say, there is a bigger story there.  But we'll save that for another time.  
Borrowed Shamelessly from the INFOWEB
The original meeting of Severin Wunderman and Aldo Gucci is one shared around the campfire quite a bit by industry folks.  Attempting to arrange a license agreement for his employer to manufacture Gucci watches as a private label endeavor, he dropped in on the hotel where he heard that the Guccis were staying, and using the house phone called up to their suite.  Now some of the following details are fuzzy, but legend holds that Aldo was expecting a call from a young woman when he answered the phone with something resembling "who the hell are you?"  Mr. Wunderman, not one to "wear the prom dress" replied in kind and was invited to come up to the suite and "talk about it".  And with both men ready to slug each other as he knocked, Mr. Gucci opened the door, they both paused and broke down in laughter.

With the ice broken, they got down to business and it was agreed that the company Mr. Wunderman worked for could have the license to make the watches.  One small problem, they could not handle such a large order.  So seeing opportunity, Mr. Wunderman proposed leaving his company, handle the manufacture of the watches himself, and the rest would take care of itself.  Well, actually two small problems - Mr. Wunderman didn't have the money to do this.  And in a moment that all of the rest of us in the sales side of the watch business wish and hope could happen for us, Aldo Gucci pre-paid an order of approximately a quarter million dollars.

Gucci Watches today is, obviously, a different company.  And that is to be expected.  But what drove Gucci, and later Corum was not just a fancy name.  It was not just a flashy booth.  It was people, imagination, a willingness to think beyond the obvious.

So we watch, and we wait, and we hope that the next Severin Wunderman will reveal himself.

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