Cuervo y Sobrinos is a Swiss luxury watch brand that proudly boasts its enduring bond with Latin creativity. The company makes premium mechanical watches with a strong aesthetic influence from its glorious past as a leading jewellery shop in Havana, Cuba.
The headquarters and atelier of Cuervo y Sobrinos are located on the shore of the Capolago Lake in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. The brand also has a boutique and museum in its birth place, Havana.
History of Cuervo y Sobrinos Watches
Cuervo y Sobrinos was established as a jewellery and watch shop in 1882 in Havana by Ramon Fernandos Cuervo.
Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, Havana, the capital city of Cuba was a centre of Latin glamour, hedonism, luxury, cigar smoke filled casinos, elegance and exoticism. In 1862, Ramon Fernandos Cuervo, an immigrant from northern Spain, founded a jewellery store Calle de la Amistad in Havana.
The Cuervo family started by importing Swiss watches before developing their own Swiss made collection which became must have stylish timepieces. Many famous people of the 20th century used to visit the Cuervo y Sobrinos Havana boutique, for example Hemingway, Churchill, Pablo Neruda, Einstein and Caruso.
Armando Rio y Cuervo and his brothers managed their jewelry and watchmaking business founded by their uncle Ramon which is why the brand has Sobrinos (nephews) in the name. The boutique known as ‘La Casa’ was on the prestigious Avenida Quinta.
The company prospered and in a short time, “La Casa” became the jeweler and watch shop in the Cuban capital. Its reputation crossed borders and the name became known in Europe and North America.
In order to satisfy the growing demand and ensure consistent quality three sites were opened in Europe. First one in Pforzheim, Germany, where the precious stones were selected and next in Rue Melzy, Paris where the stones were cut and polished. Lastly, a production facility was opened at La Chaux-de-Fonds, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking.
The brand became known for representing a unique and glamorous Latin lifestyle and the Cuervo y Sobrinos sales reached their peak at the end of the 50’s. Due to a changing political situation part of the Cuervo family left and the brand lay dormant till it was revived in 1997.
Revived by Luca Musumeci and Marzio Villa, Cuervo y Sobrinos exhibited for the first time at Basel world watch exhibition in 2002.
In 2008, the brand established its HQs and atelier in the canton of Ticino. Next year, it opened a museum and boutique in Havana.
In 2018, Cuervo y Sobrinos came under new ownership with shareholders and the management team having a wealth of experience in the watchmaking industry. The brand’s current CEO is Massimo Rossi.
As the Managing Director, Massimo Rossi had been in charge of the brand’s successful development from 2004 to 2014 and knows the international watch market inside out. In Sep 2018, he was appointed as CEO of the brand.
The brand’s Creative Director is Mario Girardi, who has a truly solid background in the watchmaking industry.
1862: Ramón Fernández Cuervo, an immigrant from northern Spain (Asturias) established his first jewellery store on Calle de la Amistad in Havana. This business was a precursor of Cuervo y Sobrinos.
1882: Cuervo y Sobrinos was established this year. Don Baldomero, Don Teodomiro, Don Jose Maria, Don Armando, Don Placido and Don Lisardo, the so-called ‘newphews’ joined Ramón Fernández Cuervo in the new business. At this time, the firm’s shop was located at Calle del Teniente Rey 13.
1897: The shop was prospering and the company required more space. As a result, it moved to Calle de la Muralla 37.
1907: Ramón Fernández Cuervo passed away. His nephew, Armando Fernández y Río, assumed responsibility for running the company.
1917: Cuervo y Sobrinos opened a new store at Calle San Rafael y Aguila.
1920: Having decided to expand its operations, Cuervo y Sobrinos opened two European facilities, a site in Pforzheim, Germany for the purchase of exclusive stones and an office in Paris, France for trading jewellery.
1928: Cuervo y Sobrinos established a watch factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, a city synonymous with watchmaking.
1932: As the business continued to grow, the legal status of the firm changed from a limited liability company to a public limited company. This change helped perpetuate growth and attract new talent from outside the Cuervo family.
1940: During the 1940s, the firm’s esteemed reputation spread and the company’s brand name became one of the best known in the American continent.
1950: During the 1950s Havana was the most luxurious city in the Caribbean and one of the most modern and energetic places within the American continent. The Boutique became a must-see destination for some of the most illustrious visitors to Havana. Caruso, Churchill, Einstein, Gable, Hemingway and Neruda were just some of the distinguished visitors to the Cuervo y Sobrinos boutique.
1965 – 1996: The brand was dormant and made no watches during this period. Nevertheless, the company’s former models still attracted much interest among watch collectors.
1997: Luca Musumeci and Marzio Villa revived the Cuervo y Sobrinos name and the dawn of a new era began.
2001: Initially, Cuervo y Sobrinos opened authorised retailers in Italy and Spain. Thereafter, the company expanded into Germany, Russia and the USA.
2002: Cuervo y Sobrinos exhibited at Baselworld for the first time. The brand unveiled its Espléndidos, Prominente and Torpedo collections.
2003: The company created the ‘Latino Award’, recognising the achievements of leading Latin figures. The inaugural prize was awarded to Spanish filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar.
2005: Cuervo y Sobrinos unveiled its first in-house chronograph calibre, the CYS 2450.
2008: The brand established its headquarters and atelier on the shore of the Capolago lake in the canton of Ticino.
2012: Cuervo y Sobrinos marked its 130th anniversary with the release of a limited edition version of the Historiador.
2017: to celebrate its 135th anniversary, the brand unveiled a special, limited edition Historiador.
2018: The company was acquired by a team of investors from the watchmaking industry. Massimo Rossi became the CEO.
2019: The Historiador 1519, limited to 500 pieces, was launched to mark Havana’s 500th anniversary.
2022: Cuervo y Sobrinos celebrated its 140th anniversary.
Cuervo y Sobrinos – Key Values
The key values running though the brand are tradition, quality, joie de vivre, and exoticism. The value of tradition can be traced back to 1882, the year the brand was established. The products are ‘Swiss made’ which is a guarantee of the highest quality when it comes to watchmaking. The design philosophy is to combine elegance and Latin creativity to communicate a certain joie de vivre, hedonism and exoticism.
This is very much part of the unique heritage which can be traced back to the city’s glorious past, when the Cuban capital was the center of an extraordinary international social scene that was elegant, refined and glamorous. These values associated with Swiss savoir-faire give Cuervo y Sobrinos a unique and inimitable positioning that gives it the tagline ‘Swiss manufacture, Latin Heritage’.
The highly skilled designers get their inspiration from models in collections around the world or from the brand’s extensive archives. The original spirit of the brand is very much inspired by Art Deco, a combination of refined details and discreet elegance.
Different experts are brought together under one roof and they look after all the stages from design to assembly. Cuervo y Sobrinos keeps abreast of all the latest technological breakthroughs ensuring clients have the most reliable and technologically advanced products.
Since the early 2000’s Cuervo has successfully positioned itself as the new vintage watch brand. The historical models the Esplendido, Prominente and Historiador have been created in the spirit of the brand driven by an Art Deco aesthetic that is elegant, discrete and yet stylish.
Besides the historical collections Cuervo y Sobrinos proposes contemporary and innovative timepieces like the Vuelo and the Pirata. The brand also creates a diving watch series named Buceador.
Cuervo y Sobrinos Watch Collections
At present, the flagship collections from the brand are Buceador, Espléndidos, Historiador, Pirata, Prominente, Churchill and Vuelo. All Cuervo y Sobrinos watches are Swiss made. They feature automatic, hand-wound or quartz movements. CYS also offers watches with complications like GMT, chronograph, retrograde display and tourbillon.
Cuervo y Sobrinos watch price range is CHF 2,100 to CHF 7,000 for regular production models in stainless steel. The retail price of 18K gold watches is more than 20,000 CHF for each piece.