Cuba Culture

Vintage Cuban watch brand Cuervo y Sobrinos, elegant since 1882

Posted May 07, 2013 by publisher in Cuba Culture.

Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Cuervo y Sobrinos holds a unique position, a tradition and identity which differentiate the brand created in Havana but, made in Switzerland, from any other brand of watch making.

Cuervo y Sobrinos is the only Swiss fine watch-making brand that can boast real and proven Latin tradition.

The binomial “Latin soul” - and therefore warmth, elegance, refinement, joie de vivre - and “Swiss Brand” - competence, rigor, craftsmanship and technology - grant the brand an inimitable and unobtainable identity.

Founded in Havana in 1882, Cuervo y Sobrinos quickly became respected as a brand of quality and elegance. On Cuba magazine writes “Thanks to the Libro de Oro Hispano-Americano (Book of Hispanic-American Gold), published in 1917, we know about the origins of the Cuervo y Sobrinos jewelry store, which by then had become “one of the most reputable companies of its kind on the island and among those that most competently and wisely run their business….”

Vintage art deco advertisements featured the slogan “jewelers you can trust” since the store sold fine gold and silver Rolex and Longines watches and other elegant accessories and gifts.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Collections

The four watch styles are named with cigar designs… Esplendidos, Prominente, Robusto and Torpedo.The newest line is the Historiador which is named for a watch model from the 1950s. Mark Bernardo of Watch Time writes about this 1950s Inspired Historiador Chronograph… “like its predecessors in the collection, has a stainless steel case whose silhouette echoes those of Cuervo y Sobrinos models from the 1950s. It is 41 mm in diameter and has a double-curved sapphire crystal, another hallmark of the era. The crown cover is engraved with “1882” the year of the brand’s founding.

Watch designs are all based on historical designs and all are manufactured in Switzerland as they have always been from the Cuervo family designs. All watches are stainless steel or 18kt fired rose gold.  Some of the newer models also incorporate titanium and bronze.

Flagship store in Havana

Cuervo y Sobrinos launched its long awaited boutique/museum in the central historic district of Havana and is proud to be the first international watch brand to inaugurate its own store on the island of Cuba.

“El Reloj Cuervo y Sobrinos” is located in a 19th century historical building on Muralla Street, the new site is opposite the original headquarters of the brand.

The store, originally known simply as “La Casa”, attracted world famous people such as Albert Einstein, Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, and Ernest Hemingway — all of whom signed the store’s guest register.

The President of Cuervo y Sobrinos, Marzio Villa, believes this is a significant move forward for the brand… “Yes we are a Swiss corporation and we can say unequivocally that we have no ties to the Cuban government. But forever we will have ties to the island of Cuba and the city of Havana. This is our heritage and it is important for people to know about our proud origins. And for this we have made a strong statement and affirmation of our heritage by restoring this site. Now absolutely everyone who visits the museum will understand our continuity and enduring historic roots”.

Cuervo y Sobrinos History

According to an article in a 2005 Robb Report, the Cuervo and Sobrinos families left Cuba soon after Fidel Castro came to power and the brand went dormant. However, in 2002, the current owners revived the brand when they introduced a modern watch collection based in part on a cache of design sketches that they had discovered (along with a vault containing 25 original movements) in the an abandoned store years earlier.

After rights were acquired from the Cuervo family, the new Cuervo y Sobrinos company began designing and manufacturing a new line of luxury watches that were true to the original designs.

While retro influences pervade the contemporary collection, the watches are larger than their Cuervo y Sobrinos ancestors, to suit modern tastes. Cuervo y Sobrinos has found a niche in a crowded market by evoking the sultry atmosphere of old Cuba—the dials use a color palette taken from Cuba’s famous cigar labels. The brand’s packaging cleverly reinforces this connection with Cuban cigars: Each watch is delivered in a burl wood box that comes with a humidor conversion kit.

More information

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