Locman could be producing thousands of watches using Italian movements within five years as its partner OISA ramps up manufacturing.
OISA — Orologeria Italiana Società Azionaria — was founded in Milan in 1937 as a component supplier and then movement maker for several Swiss brands.
At its peak, OISA was producing 10,000 movements every month, but was all-but wiped out by the quartz crisis. Its owners kept the name alive and went back to producing components, and also retained all the intellectual property of the business.
Six years’ ago, OISA was given a new lease of life when a consortium including Marco Mantovani, president of Locman, Benedetto Perrotta of Officina Meccanica Futura and luxury brand CEO and financier Andrea Morante came together to launch a project to bring watchmaking back to Italy.
Component maker Genesi Milano, owned by Locman, has also been integrated into the group.
“We started with a dream, and then we built a company,” Mr Mantovani describes to WATCHPRO as he charts the past six years building back OISA into a manufacturer capable of producing movements at scale.
Watches Made in Italy
That dream became a reality earlier this year when Locman launched its first watch using an Italian-made movement.
The Locman Montecristo runs on a hand-wound OISA Calibre 29-50 Cinque Ponti movement with a hand crafted Côtes de Genève finish on the bridges enclosing the gear train and a handmade Perlage finish on the mainplate.
The Montecristo was made in limited quantities in steel for $6,000 and gold for $25,000.
That is a rare price point for Locman, which typically retails its watches for under $1,000, but the OISA project has been a labour of love for the consortium, and the made in Italy watches have been popular in their home country.
“Italians are passionate about their watches because of the tradition of manufacturing throughout the 20th century,” Mr Mantovani says.
“Watchmaking is respected as an art in Italy. Collectors are respected for their passion,” he adds.
OISA has made around 1,000 movements in 2022, all of which have been used by Locman, but the company aims to increase production to 10,000 units per year by 2026.
The business owns patents on up to ten different movements, including automatics, and plans to re-introduce a number of them.
OISA does not want to be compared to industrial producers like Seiko, ETA and Selitta, but prefers to be seen an artisan option where watchmakers can come for low volume or even unique movements made to order.
Locman will take “only a percentage” of those movements, Mr Mantovani says, “but it is a great opportunity for us,” he adds.
Locman is little-known outside of its native Italy, where it owns a network of boutiques. Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, USA and Japan are sizeable export markets where it has retail partners.
The company is currently in discussions on ramping up its presence in the UK.