How did you get involved in CrossFit?
Sandro Reginelli, CEO Hautlence: I have participated in sports my whole life. I used to play soccer when I was very young and wanted to be a professional soccer player. When I was introduced to CrossFit, I found it amazing because it is really the most complete sport—you exercise everything. What’s unique about CrossFit is that you quickly find out that you cannot be good at everything.
As a manager, you are able to bring people on board who will help you with all the things that you aren’t good at—but in CrossFit, with the exception of your coach, you are by yourself. It’s up to you to get it done. And there is a parallel to what I’m doing as a CEO; I have a lot of people working with me, helping towards common objectives, but as a CEO, I am sometimes alone to make decisions.
How often do you work out?
When I’m not traveling, I work out between two and three times a week, and when I am on the road, I always try to look for a CrossFit in the city where I am. If I have the time, I do a drop-in for an hour for a WOD (Workout of the Day).
What do you find most challenging?
CrossFit combines performance, strength, mobility and endurance, and it is very intense. In the beginning, you have to learn to master all the different exercises and techniques, which can be challenging, but after 12 months, what I find the most challenging is managing the timing of my effort. If I start out too hard or too fast, I have trouble finishing, but at the same time, I always want to give it my max.
Have you made some good contacts through CrossFit?
Definitely. I think I’m the oldest one in the group, so it’s interesting because I meet a lot of young people. I have a lot of respect for them and vice versa. It’s funny, they call me, Le Vecchio, which is “old guy” in Italian, or La Machina which means “the Machine.”
If somebody else from the watch industry came up to you and asked if they should do CrossFit, what would you say?
Come and try. Especially if you like sports in general and you want something that brings you more than just one discipline. You go from the rowing machine to bars…you work with the weight of your body, kettle bells, weights and heavy balls.
It’s one hour of training, which is really convenient for me as a professional. Sometimes when you go to a gym or a health club, you end up talking to people—train for half an hour, and talk for two hours. You don’t get to do as much; you’re not efficient. At CrossFit, it is one hour of intense effort and it’s done.
Are there similarities between CrossFit and your work at Hautlence?
At Hautlence, our tagline is “Cross the Line,” which also has the word “cross” in it. You always have to cross something to succeed—a line, a bridge, a pain barrier. It is all about pushing yourself to reach success in whatever you do, however hard it may seem when you start.
What are you working on right now?
We are working on a number of different projects. Last year was a challenging year; we did very well the year before, with double-digit growth in 2015. By mid 2016, we were flat compared to 2015’s figures, so that’s quite an achievement, especially if you look at today’s market. The market is going to pick up again; we have to take this time to be ready so that when the market restarts, we are ready for attack.
Having said that, we aren’t slowing down. We have three collections—Concepts d’Exception, Atelier and Signature—and incredible pieces like the Vortex and the HL2. At SIHH, we presented a new complication of the HL2, which is really exciting. I would say it is a natural evolution of the collection but it will also be really amazing, aesthetically. So it’s really Hautlence “Crossing the Line” again.
We also have our original HL collection, the very first Hautlence timepiece. When we started, we had a product that was just amazing, and it was a reference at the time. My objective now is to relaunch this collection in 2018. And here, I think, we will really bring back the soul of Hautlence. We have a year of development to go as we are completely redoing the complication and the design concept. But, most importantly, by redoing everything, we will be doing the same.
Will you be continuing with products like the Labyrinth (a mechanical game on the wrist that doesn’t tell the time)?
Definitely. We’ve already presented the Playground Pinball at Baselworld 2017. I believe we shocked the industry with this product that didn’t tell the time, but we were admired by other industries and other people linked to luxury businesses. So it was quite interesting, and the more we move forward, the more I see the potential of it. We are just at the beginning. We are ready to go to the next level; we want to create legitimacy by bringing even more new mechanical games. It’s a new interpretation of time—a new type of object. We are not telling the time, traditionally speaking, but asking people to take their time. I think it is important to have beautiful objects on your wrists. We are always in “speed mode,” and I think this kind of object helps us to slow down and appreciate the authentic things in life.
It is something you can give to your kids. I’m also a father—I have two girls—and while they do play with iPhones and iPads, they can also play with something more traditional and mechanical. I’m very proud of it. When their friends come over, they always ask to play with it—that’s success right there.
What watch are you wearing today?
The Vortex Bronze. We presented this new generation of the Vortex collection at Basel last year; it’s a limited edition of eight pieces. As we speak, we have already sold six pieces, and we are talking to a couple of people about the remaining two pieces.
How does it feel to return to Hautlence after your initial role as an investor when the company was a start-up among friends?
I’m really happy to come back to Hautlence. We were a bunch of friends in 2004 when we started this company. We had a dream, and the dream continued in 2012 when the Meylan family took over—I wasn’t involved anymore; I was always just an investor in the company and board member until 2012. And back in October 2015, they contacted me about the position of CEO and I started in December of that year. It was a huge surprise, but I accepted in a heartbeat. I really believe in destiny. I wanted to do it, not just for myself, but for my family and also for all the people who started this project. I think it is important that at least one of the founders continues this venture and hopefully brings it the success it deserves.