How does your watch journey begin? (Andrea Furlan, Co-founder of Furlan Marri) My watch journey began when I was 15 years old. My grandfather always wore a vintage Rolex, and he never took it off except to give it to me. I would sketch the Rolex, and it was great to have this connection with my grandfather, and it gave me a lot of memories from that time. Initially, I wanted to become a car designer. So I went to school with the aim of pursuing a career in car design. When I was in Italy, I visited a design school, where I learned that in automotive design world, there are many designers in the team. Therefore it is sometimes frustrating to design or sketch only a detail of the car instead of a more global design.
“That’s why watches appeal to me. I appreciate the fact that you can design something and then oversee every aspect of the design process from A to Z.”
(AF) That’s why watches appeal to me. I appreciate the fact that you can design something and then oversee every aspect of the design process from A to Z. I attended ECAL, one of the best arts and design schools in the world. What’s great is that I had the opportunity to explore various disciplines including photography, art history, cinema, 2D and 3D design, typography, and industrial design. This allowed me to develop a comprehensive approach to taking a project from concept to completion.
What was your first ever watch? (AF) My very first ever watch was a Swatch. Before that, I had a Flick Flak with a dolphin on it; It was a kid’s watch. So I would say my first proper watch was a Swatch – a chronograph, quartz with black dial.
What is your daily watch and why? (AF) I own a Rolex Pepsi from the 1990s, along with some vintage Movado watches. Additionally I own some exquisite timepieces similar to those owned by my friend Joël. One of these is a Cartier Tank with a blue dial. Currently, I’m wearing a Furlan Marri prototype watch as I always want to see, test, showcase it to people, and receive critiques and feedback.
“For a young brand like ours, maintaining this level of control is of paramount importance.”
What is the one thing you learned from working for other established watchmaking brands? (AF) I’ve done several internships, one with Hublot, another with Chopard, and also at the new atelier Hermès (Atelier specialised in industrial design, boat design and furniture design). I also had experiences with different companies like HD3 Complication, Sarcar. These internship showed me the inner workings of the design process, quality control, and the company dynamics. One significant lesson I learned is the realisation of how many people are involved in crafting a watch. I’m currently striving to optimise my involvement in the creative process, while also dealing with logistical challenges. In terms of logistics, we have a centre that optimise the process by automatically connecting to the website. For the quality control, we conduct multiple checks before shipping the watches. As for after-sales service, we partnered with an international company based in the London. They collaborate with their partners, enabling us to address customer issues locally. For instance, if a customer encounters an issue in the US, it can be resolved there. For a young brand like ours, maintaining this level of control is of paramount importance.
How did you meet your business partner and start Furlan Marri? (AF) I met Hamad 8 years ago when I was with Dominique Renaud. He was studying the project alongside the creative process. We shared the same mentality, caring deeply about details, and valuing craftsmanship. Hamad is not only a watch collector but also an artist with a keen eye for collectibles. Despite the challenge of being in different countries and far apart, we communicate everyday to progress and bring our ideas to life. This arrangement works well, and having this Middle East connection is truly advantageous. The Watchmaking industry in the Middle East is a significant community, and having a physical presence there through Hamad, who can travel across countries, adds a strong dimension to our brand’s presence in the region. Especially as a young brand, this aspect contributes to our brand’s power and influence in the Middle East.
What are you in charge of at Furlan Marri? (AF) At Furlan Marri, I’m in charge of the design process of watches and the creative direction of the branding.
Geneva is the heart of watchmaking, what are the benefits being based here for newly born watchmaking brand like you? (AF) One thing that really benefits us is the foot traffic during watch fairs, where collectors gather. We don’t have to travel far; we simply need to take a bus to the hotel to meet with them. This way we can showcase our complications then new permanent collections. Sometimes we even make direct sales with them. Having our base in Geneva proves advantageous, especially with the absence of Baselworld. Currently everything is centred in Geneva, with three of four watch fairs held each year. The connectivity is strong, making it compelling environment for a young brand like ours.
What is your creative work process? (AF) Hamas and I share ideas, saving them for future reference. We have numerous ongoing projects, and when the time is right, we delve deeper into the discussions. We start the creative process by sketching. Personally, I sketch by hand, while Hamad prefers using an iPad. Then I transfer these sketches into a 3D program. Lately, we’ve been incorporating 3D printing to create physical models that we van place on the wrist, allowing us to assess angels, diameters, proportions, and overall fit. If everything aligns perfectly and meets our design vision, we proceed with our working prototype. This phase typically involves creating 2 or 3 prototypes. We subject them to testing, gathering feedback from collectors, family, friends, and industry experts. Following this, we move on to the final prototype. On certain occasions, we opt for a pre-order strategy, offering customers the chance to place orders within a 10-day window. This approach allows us to manage stock levels effectively by avoiding overproduction, which has proven to be beneficial.
How did the partnership made with Maffi Racing in F4? (AF) My brother is friends with a pilot at Maffi Racing. Initially, I wasn’t really incline towards it. However, we are actually neighbours. We embarked on our journeys around the same time, during the COVID. Both of us run small teams with a distinct Swiss mindset. We are young individuals with free and open minds, receptive to a multitude of possibilities. During our initial conversations, we explored the idea of collaborations and the discussion were much more open and diverse than I had initially anticipated.
(AF) For now, I haven’t pursued a partnership with F1 because it tends to be too closed. F4, on the other hand, is a great option. They not only have a racing team with karts but also boast an academy that supports young individuals aspiring to enter F4, F3, F2, and even promotes women’s participation in motorsports. This makes it highly intriguing to observe and learn from them, considering our shared mindset and values. We’re both driven to push limits, striving for the same connection and communication. Recognising the synergy between our brands, we find it very significant. What holds the utmost importance for me is the narrative – it’s a compelling story to share.
“Our goal is to provide intricately designed watches at an accessible price point.”
What is the story Furlan Marri telling? (AF) One of Furlan Marri‘s stories is the story of an old craftsman named François Borgel, who was the case maker of big brands of the past including Patek Philippe, Movado and others. We sought inspiration from this heritage, we aim to blend the mindset of collectibles with affordability. Our goal is to provide intricately designed watches that retain fine details in textures, finish, and historical details such as curved shapes or proportions. Everything at an accessible price point. We have also introduced a technical line to optimise complications such as the ultra simple perpetual calendar we developed for Only Watch (A biennial charity auction of luxury timepieces made by the finest watchmakers for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy).
“Watch serves as a reminder of different memories, such as the example of my grandfather and his Rolex.”
Why do you think watches are so special to you? (AF) It’s more than just a product; when you look into it, it evokes various thoughts and feelings. It serves as a reminder of different memories, such as the example of my grandfather and his Rolex. He never took of his Rolex, except for me. This connection brings immense joy and happiness, fostering strong and lasting memories.