Founded in 1882 , Don Ramon Cuervo established what was to become the most successful jewellers and watchmakers of the Latin world, only for the story to be lost in the midst of time. During the 1880s Havana enjoyed a height of success where affluent travellers from all over the world would visit to enjoy the slow-paced way of life and celebrate the finer things in life.
Whilst commodities such as Cuban cigars and white rum where doing very well, the demand for timepieces bearing the Cuervo family name became insatiable. It wasn’t long before well-known watch companies such as Rolex , Vacheron and Longines were producing watches exclusively for sale in Don Ramon’s shops, with each timepiece bearing the Cuervo y Sobrinos name. Don Ramon’s work was continued notably by his nephew Don Armando. With an atelier in La Chaux-de-Fonds and with the expansion of their outlets to Germany and North America, business was good for the growing family business.
‘Cuervo Y Sobrinos’ translates as ’Cuervo and nephews’, as the skills and passion for the trade was passed down through the generations of the family. Influential figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill had been patrons for the brand. Even Albert Einstein felt the Cuban watch company was the intelligent choice.
Taking the time to appreciate the finer things in life and to reflect became an important part of Cuba‘s culture in this era. However things came to an abrupt halt when the Cuban Revolution took hold of Havana in 1953. The Cuervo family had to flee their shop, only with what they could carry, leaving the jewellery shop with its locked steel vaults to remain untouched for the next 40 years.
Today that history is being brought back to life. In 1997 Italian entrepreneur Marzio Villa first gained access to the original shop on San Rafael Street, Havana. The brand has since been resurrected with re-issues of the original watches being manufactured in Switzerland and then sold around the world.
Various documentation and antique movements found in the vaults of the ‘La Casa’ shop in Avenida Quinta provided the basis for regeneration of Cuervo y Sobrinos watches. As a collector with a passion for fine watches and luxury sports cars, Marzio was on vacation in Cuba when he first came across these mysterious antique watches. Inevitably his curiosity led him to research the brand’s history and restore its place on the international watch scene today.
When you hold a Cuervo y Sobrinos watch it reminds you of years gone by, where time was enjoyed not just measured. The art deco contours and Latin styling cues allow you to feel the history of the brand, whilst the next chapters of the company’s history are still be written to this day. You can even visit the new boutique now open in Havana today.
By way of example the featured watch here is the Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Semenal. The purpose of this watch is to instantly show the time, date, day, week and month at a glance This timepiece is considered to be a complication piece, aimed at serious collectors who would appreciate an annual calendar in an easy-to-read display.
The movement is CYS 2853 – a heavily modified ETA module which is no longer recognisable due to the sheer amount of customisation required to configure it to the functionality of the watch. A new feature to the collection is the use of a ‘full’ rotor, used to wind the watch. Where normal rotors are a half moon shape, the full rotor has a peripheral edge that forms the other half.
The meticulously decorated bridges are housed in a 45mm stainless steel case, with its unique angular oversized shoulders, giving the watch a truly Latin appearance. The dial bearing the family business’s crest is available in ivory and black options.
Should this watch be overly complicated for the user, both a three hand piece and a chronograph version are available as alternatives in a variety of options. All these watches are available to purchase through Jura Watches.