The Road to JIS Miami 2021: the Petrus watch does not go unnoticed

From the first improvised exhibition stand to major events abroad: when interesting anecdotes tell a fabulous story

It is not easy for those who are new to the watchmaking market given that every obstacle to overcome looks exactly like a big prestigious brand that is already established, not to mention the breakout of a global pandemic that does not exactly facilitate the launch of new entrepreneurial activities. And yet, there are those who have a different story to tell …

Only a few days have passed since the private meeting held with His Holiness Pope Francis, to place a Petrus watch directly into the hands of the person who inspired this timepiece. Today, KEFA looks back with a satisfied smile on the road travelled to reach this exciting point. From the beginning, the path was filled with twists and turns but also offered up beautiful surprises and experiences, which are worth sharing so as to thoroughly understand the strength and stubbornness of this young but undoubtedly ambitious brand.

Watches of Italy 2020: the first worldly event for the Petrus watch

The first fair in which KEFA founders Carmelo Caruso and Gianluigi Di Lorenzo took part, it rained almost as if directly from the heavens. It was almost accidentally that the pair became aware of Watches of Italy and asked to be able to participate as exhibitors. The fair dedicated to watches would be held in Tortona in September 2020, in that brief period of time when the restrictions on gatherings due to COVID were eased thanks to the arrival of summer.

There was just one small problem – at that point in time, production of the first official Petrus watch pieces was still ongoing, precisely because of the delays deriving from the pandemic. Call it madness or courageous, but the desire to turn up to your own stand at a watch fair with only three prototypes in hand was undoubtedly an impulse decision, deriving from the enthusiasm of a startup looking forward to launching and making a name for itself in any way possible.

The answer, in any case, was negative. The fair was full.

Perhaps it was better that way, they thought. There was no time to get organised and, with only three watches, which were moreover merely prototypes, what could they offer to those attending the fair?

Sampietrini, watches and a story to tell

Except, just under a week before the start of the event, came the news that a place had opened up and that they were at the top of the reserve list. So, what was there to do? They took the ball and ran with it. Given the circumstances, they did not know if an opportunity to present the watch and introduce the company in person would come back around any time soon. At that point, the real challenge was to be able to set up – in just three days – a stand that was not only aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching but which could also somehow “hide” the fact that the actual product still did not exist!

But it was a period of taking courageous initiatives – in all senses of the term – for KEFA and this would be no exception. In record time, they printed 5,000 brochures and some posters to hang up at the stand, found an Ikea bookcase and some sampietrini (those stones that line the famous cobbled streets of Rome) on which they engraved the KEFA logo and the Vatican symbols also present on the Petrus watch. They added a few handfuls of sand to invoke the atmosphere of the times in which Saint Peter lived and finished it off with the only three watches they owned – the prototypes of the Petrus. In short, the booth – having been entirely improvised – was ready.

Throughout the days of the exhibition, the two partners discovered that people would gladly stop by, intrigued by the project and the unique arrangement they had set up. The words of the two partners did the rest – after all, they did not yet have a product to sell but they did have a great story to tell about the item and their company, a story rich in meanings and values that many could share.

An unexpected turn: publication in L’Orologio magazine

It was on this occasion that a woman lingered around their stand and asked a simple question: “What can you tell me about this watch?”. Gianluigi did not hesitate: if all you have is a story, then you have to tell it. And the woman’s reaction come as confirmation that they were doing the right thing: “This is a beautiful story. It needs to be told. I’ll have a fellow journalist call you and see if we can get an article out on it.

Grabbing a business card, the woman left without looking back, leaving Gianluigi gobsmacked. Yet, they gave no more thought to that woman, of whom they knew absolutely nothing about, until two months later when they were contacted by an editor of the magazine L’Orologio. This was how Gianluigi discovered that the woman who had stopped by the booth a couple of months earlier was none other than the owner of the magazine.

Whether it was luck or fate, it is hard to say. What matters is that, despite not having any watch to sell (or rather pre-sell) throughout the days of the fair, the occasion was not devoid of merit in terms of visibility. Not only at the fair itself but also further down the track, when the article was published in L’Orologio, one of the most lauded magazines in the industry.

How to speak a universal language: all synchronised on the time of Petrus

In the months that followed those events, the pandemic – as could be expected – blocked all possibility of participating in any other important events. Nonetheless, Petrus and KEFA managed to gain mention in the German magazine The Harbor, the Italian blog Pensa Illogico and even in an Australian blog, proving that the word has started to spread throughout the sector and that Petrus was gaining the appreciation of enthusiasts and collectors not only in Italy, but all over the world.

This is also why the two founders intended the next stop on their path – if the pandemic would allow it – to be the JIS Miami 2021, the event specialising in jewellery to be held in Florida in October.

In short, Carmelo and Gianluigi were well aware that their creation was beginning to be noticed but were convinced that such international appreciation and their strength lay not only and exclusively in the result of the quality and uniqueness of the Petrus watch as a collector’s item inspired by Pope Francis, but also in an incredible story comprised of people, faith and interesting anecdotes to be shared.