Cuervo y Sobrinos is a brand that has made its mark with its unique story and remarkable timepieces. Over the last couple of years, I was lucky enough to go hands-on with several Cuervo y Sobrinos models, and I greatly enjoyed them. The timepieces often have interesting tales behind them, and the brand’s standout design signature makes it fun to experience any of its new creations. It is enough reason to talk to Cuervo y Sobrinos CEO Massimo Rossi. It was a long talk about the brand’s history, clients, and plans.

From the moment I put the Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe on my wrist in 2021, I knew there was something special about the brand. The Buceador Caribe is not your average dive watch. Its design and colors are a wonderful combination of extravagance and warmth, still steeped in the functionality of a dive watch. But that was not the whole story. The watch was delivered in a specially crafted cedar wooden box that serves as a cigar humidor. It was an intriguing part of the watch’s story that links to the brand’s Cuban history. Through this, I found that Cuervo y Sobrinos has a unique story to tell, and I quickly became a fan.

Cuervo y Sobrinos HQ

A story of growth with a history to match

As a result of that first experience, I have diligently followed the brand and its timepieces ever since. Over the last year or so, we have seen some very strong releases with the Historiador Hemingway Icónico models, Historiador Historic Endurance, Historiador Cronógrafo 1946, and three new Buceador Caribe watches. But how do you grow a brand that is anything but ordinary?

Buceador Caribe

Especially in the Swiss landscape of watches, Cuervo y Sobrinos is a bit of an odd one out. This was a great reason to talk to Massimo Rossi, the brand’s CEO. He has been leading the company for the last five years, and we wanted to know where the brand is today and where he would like to take it in the coming years. Let’s find out!

Cuervo y Sobrinos CEO Massimo Rossi

The success of Cuervo y Sobrinos is a story of growth with a history to match

Jorg Weppelink: You have been at the company’s helm since 2018, so it’s been five years since you started. In short, how have the last five years been?

Massimo Rossi: Commercially, we were able to grow in the majority of our markets. And even more importantly, we managed to sell out all the pieces at our physical points of sale. On top of that — possibly the main achievement — we are convinced that the Cuervo y Sobrinos brand identity has been strengthened over the last few years. Today, the brand is more desirable than ever and has a strong positioning that we summarize with our claim “Born in Havana. Crafted in Switzerland.”  We are the only Swiss fine watch brand that makes you feel part of an exclusive and vibrant Latin world.

Cuervo y Sobrinos founder Don Ramón Fernández Cuervo

Cuervo y Sobrinos founder Don Ramón Fernández Cuervo

JW: Last year, Cuervo y Sobrinos celebrated its 140th anniversary. How is the brand doing today?

MR: To manage a brand with a very long tradition means we have a great responsibility to our customers and the watch community. I would say that Cuervo y Sobrinos is more ambitious than ever. We are an independent Swiss watch brand offering a Latin-inspired, classy, and informal alternative to traditional watchmakers.

In terms of position, we are a mid-price watch brand, and we will keep this positioning in the future. Our core range is between 1,500 and 5,000 Swiss francs. Reaching a higher sales volume is a precondition to remain profitable. However, the growth will be characterized by two clear targets. First, we aim to generate future volumes through iconic products rather than just adding SKUs. Secondly, starting in 2025, we will develop a few more sophisticated and high-end products to move the brand further upmarket and enhance the glamorous dimension of Cuervo y Sobrinos. In terms of pricing, these watches will be between 5,000 and 8,000 Swiss francs.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Chronógrafo 1946

Historiador Chronógrafo 1946

Does a unique story attract different clients?

JW: I adore that Cuervo y Sobrinos has a different story than most watch brands. The pre-Castro Cuban heritage brings great charm combined with Swiss watchmaking expertise. Is the Cuban heritage also why people are specifically attracted to the brand?

MR: Most definitely. As I said, we see ourselves as an alternative to traditional Swiss watchmakers with our claim that we were “Born in Havana. Crafted in Switzerland.” This claim summarizes who we are. It is this vibrant Latin imagery that distinguishes us from the competitors and is what makes consumers choose us over other brands. The values of Don Ramón Fernández Cuervo, the company’s founder, continue to live on today and form the basis of our operations.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Buceador Caribe

Buceador Caribe

JW: How well does Cuervo y Sobrinos do with the Spanish/Portuguese-speaking client base because of its roots?

MR: Of course, people who speak Spanish may immediately recognize the Latin-Spanish character of the brand. They can probably pronounce the brand’s name without hesitation. For example, in Florida, a strong Cuban community is extremely proud of the legacy of Cuervo y Sobrinos. That said, I must say that the brand’s romance and desirability go beyond the Spanish language. The complete Latin dimension fascinates many consumers, not only the Spanish-speaking ones.

Historiador Historic Endurance

An increase in both online sales and physical distribution

JW: Regarding distribution, we can buy online and through boutiques. What is the sales strategy for Cuervo y Sobrinos?

MR: We have a clear, traditional approach to distribution. Our watches are available at 150 multi-brand retailers around the world. We aim to grow the brand through these retailers and sell out our available pieces. On top of that, we plan to grow our presence within the existing markets and enter regions where we are not present yet. Additionally, online sales are a no-brainer. We see strong growth and hope to continue that. That said, the core business will continue with our retail partners.

Cuervo y Sobrinos CEO Massimo Rossi and John Hemingway

Massimo Rossi with John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway

JW: Looking at your dealer network, I see quite a few boutiques in Japan and many in Europe. Are those the main markets for the brand?

MR: If we look at our international sales figures, they are well balanced all over the world. Traditionally, Europe remains the strongest territory for us. However, the Americas (USA and Mexico) and Asia share the rest of the sales and perform well for us. We have been working with the same distributor in Japan for 15 years. As a result, the brand is distributed well, and the sales figures are very good in Japan.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway Icónico

Historiador Hemingway Icónico

JW: Over time, the relationship with Cuba has also been reestablished, and the brand has opened a boutique and museum in Havana. What is the current commercial situation in Cuba for Cuervo y Sobrinos?

MR: Unfortunately, the country is struggling, and tourism hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. The sales of the boutique are therefore not good. We hope this will change, of course, because Cuervo y Sobrinos has its roots in Havana.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Hemingway GMT "The Fisherman"

Historiador Hemingway GMT “The Fisherman”

Implementing the Cuervo y Sobrinos product strategy

JW: If we switch to the different product ranges, what is the focus on product strategy?

MR: Cuervo y Sobrinos has a multi-product approach with a well-balanced and segmented collection. With the launch of the new Robusto Collection in May of 2024, the implementation of our product strategy reaches its endpoint. The Historiador is our bestseller and a favorite among people who love the brand. All the other product lines have identities of their own. However, their success varies from market to market.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Robusto Churchill Limited Edition

Robusto Churchill Limited Edition from 2021

With the upcoming Robusto, we have chosen to relaunch a historical product dating back to 1935 featuring a typical Art Deco design. This new collection aims to become a second international pillar for the brand. The release of this new line is planned for the Geneva fairs in April, so stay tuned….

Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Nino Farina

Historiador Nino Farina

A string of brilliant Cuervo y Sobrinos vintage-inspired chronographs

JW: We have seen some amazing chronographs lately in the Historiador collection, with, for instance, the Historiador Cronógrafo 1946, the Historic Endurance, the Historiador Gran Premio De Cuba, and the beautiful Historiador Nino Farina. How do you bring a story and a design together for those watches?

MR: Each distinctive model tells a historical story. That story inspires the design of the watch. This is our motto when it comes to creation and storytelling. The challenge is to properly balance three dimensions —respect for tradition, authentic storytelling, and great design.

Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Cronógrafo 1946

Historiador Cronógrafo 1946

JW: Additionally, all of the mentioned models are limited editions. Will we see a permanent chronograph addition to the collection that is not tied to a specific event?

MR: That’s a good question. Traditionally, Cuervo y Sobrinos never performed all that well in selling chronographs. A potential reason might be that we have a certain elegance in our DNA, whereas chronographs are more recognized as sports watches. We wanted to shift this paradigm. To do so, we have researched our archives and found out which kind of chronograph was popular during Cuervo y Sobrino’s golden years.

Historiador Landeron in black

The first chronograph we relaunched was the Landeron, a remake of the Landeron of the 1930s and ’40s. It turned out to be a big success. The past also inspired the other chronographs you mentioned and were successful. Now we know exactly what to do when creating Cuervo chronographs. Therefore, we plan to release chronographs as part of the core collection, which will not necessarily be limited editions.

Buceador Caribe

Great diversity in design with a distinct style signature

JW: Regarding products, I see great diversity in the current Cuervo y Sobrinos collection. But there is a very clear design signature. Are there any leading design principles in terms of specific case/lug and dial designs that lead to new products besides the influences from the archives?

MR: I appreciate your statement about a clear design signature because this is our main challenge when it comes to design. Each model family has a distinct identity and reason why it’s in the collection. However, the brand identity must not be diluted through the different models. This goal can only be achieved if, during the creative process, the designers always maintain the key values — tradition, vintage/retro-modern inspiration with original case designs from 1930–1950, and the Latin dimension. Specifically, for the design style, we look for Art Deco influences, sensual lines, perfect proportions, and warm and typical vintage colors like Havana brown, cream, or antic rose.

I’m a cigar smoker, and I like to say that a Cuervo y Sobrinos is like a good cigar: you start to enjoy it when you have it in your hands, you can smell it, and it conveys your emotion before you start to smoke it. When consumers look at a Cuervo y Sobrinos watch, they should recognize our style immediately.

Caliber CYS 5124

No specific focus on creating more in-house movements

JW: In 2005, Cuervo y Sobrinos released its first in-house chronograph caliber, the CYS 2450. Today, we see movements based on La Joux-Perret, Sellita, Soprod, and ETA. Is there still a focus on in-house movement production?

MR: To be truthful, there is no focus on that. The development of in-house movements is not our priority. We currently work with Sellita, Soprod, La Joux-Perret, and Dubois Dépraz regarding complications. These suppliers can provide us with the right movements for the watches that we create.

Caliber CYS 6331

JW: To what extent are modifications and finishing to the movements done in-house?

MR: That happens on a case-by-case basis. We do those jobs in-house and also work with our qualified partners for modifications and finishing.

Winston Churchill

Cuervo y Sobrinos partnerships are specifically relevant to the brand

JW: We see several partnerships with both people and events. How do you choose your partners? Should they fit a certain profile?

MR: We have two pillars for our brand world — Legends and Partnerships. Legends are personalities from the past that were deeply connected with our brand or the world and the imagery of Cuervo y Sobrinos. A great example is Winston Churchill. He was one of the most famous “Habanos” smokers in history. Churchill went to Cuba in 1895 when he was very young to fight in the Cuban War of Independence.

Historiador Hemingway Icónico

Another is Ernest Hemingway, as most of you know. He lived in Cuba for more than 15 years, and the island inspired his famous novel The Old Man and the Sea. Lastly, the Cuban pilot Domingo Rosillo became the first aviator to cross from Key West to Cuba in 1913. With these legends, we want to highlight the history of Cuba and Cuervo y Sobrinos.

Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras

Partnerships are collaborations that we have with present-day Latin personalities. The first is with Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras, a Cuban free-diving legend with a personal depth record of 171 meters. The second is Yilian Cañizares, a Cuban violinist and singer. She just joined us and is one of the most incredible talents of the new generation of Cuban musicians.

Buceador Caribe

Lastly, there is Carlos Acosta. This partnership is official but not yet disclosed, so this is a bit of a scoop. Acosta is a Cuban-British retired dancer and the director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. He danced with many companies, including the English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Houston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. These partnerships convey the contemporary Latin spirit of the brand.

Historiador Hemingway Icónico

JW: The partnership with Ernest Hemingway’s family has been brilliant for storytelling, and, in my opinion, the timepieces have represented it perfectly. Does that attract people who are not necessarily fans of watches but are Hemingway fans?

MR: Yes, we think so. The Hemingway watch is vintage and elegant but has a “military” twist. People love it, and the Hemingway name is an added value that conveys authentic storytelling.

Historiador Hemingway GMT “The Fisherman”

JW: Lastly, what can we expect from Cuervo y Sobrinos in 2024? I look forward to new chronographs, and how about some more GMTs like the Historiador Hemingway GMT “The Fisherman”? I love that release as well. Frankly, I can’t wait to find out what is next.

Historiador Nino Farina II

MR: Thank you. This year, the focus on novelties will be on the Robusto family, which comes without complications. As I said, we plan to release more upgraded models in 2025. However, this year, besides the Historiador Nino Farina II chronograph that we have just launched, we will also see the release of one or two new timepieces. So it’s going to be another exciting year for us.


On behalf of Fratello, I want to thank Mr. Rossi for taking the time to speak with me about Cuervo y Sobrinos. If you’re as excited about the future of this brand as I am, make sure to leave a comment down below.

For more information on Cuervo y Sobrinos and its watches, read our coverage here and visit the brand’s official website.