Slowly but surely… Visconti is now a worlwide famous pen manufacturer..It’s not just a question of pens ….a real team of pen lovers works in Italy.
We would like to thank you Mr Del Vecchio for its kindness and his honnest answers !
Here is his interview this one has been published one year ago and a brand new one will be online in a few weeks, so if you have any question, just let us know
After more than 20 years as a pen manufacturer, what changes has you seen in the market for fine writing instruments?How does you divide the market, and in which segments is the most focused in competing?Which segments do you consider the most profitable?
The biggest problem is the shrinking of the shops that carries pens.
Pens, differently from watches are not able to live from their own life but needs to be hooked to other business like stationery.So there are very few pens stores compared to watch stores and this make that many people do not buy pens because they do not have the chance.
A pen is an emotional not a planned one.
Also pens are still looked as a tool and not as a jewel like watches, the only recognized men jewellery. This was able to make watches so popular. Who needs to now the hour when your phone and your car have a watch built in ? Do not forget that pens are coming from a golden age of the nineties, a step back today was expected from a marketing point of view. I think that a price point from 1500 / 2000 euros allows a good profit joined to an excellent creativity and manufacturing and good value for the collector. The biggest competition is between 250 and 400 euros, the most crowded segment.
Has Visconti been able to weather the recession without any impact on their workforce? Did they find it necessary to reduce workdays/weekly-hours or to request “cassa integrazione”?
The commitment of Visconti to his people at the end of 2008 was to not fire anybody, and join togheter to wait better times.We have reduced our costs, cancelled the prizes and end of the year awards, made economy with our suppliers, and with a careful financial control we were able to break even in 2009 without asking Italian government any contribution that are given as “cassa integrazione”. Obiouvsly we are suffering as anybody else due to market shrinkage at any segment. Bugatti sold 40 % less cars at 1.000.000 euros each so the recession hitted everybody at every price point.Most of luxury companies stepped down 3 / 4 years in turnover. Due to the success of Rembrandt at the end of 2009 we had to pay lot of extra weekly hours to our employee.Actually the Visconti team is the same of 2007 that was the peak of our success. .
What do you believe is the optimum number of new releases a company can make per year in order that each release is special and so that all pens are made to the highest standards?
Good question !
I think the most important is not the quantity but the quality !
The capacity to innovate ,to really offer either a new design, a new idea or either a good reason to make a new pen.The judge at the end is always the market. Said this 2 /3 pens x year are a reasonable number to not overflow the market.
What does you view as the least successful pen Visconti has produced, and what lessons has the company learned from that?
Is very difficult to predict what is successful and what not even if after a reflection we should be able to understand a success from a disaster ! There are pens like the Leopardi that were not successful because ahead of the time, infact it was a small pen launched much before the Mozart of Mont Blanc. I can say the biggest mistake for Visconti was the Montecarlo a pen made out of bachelite , interesting for a pen aficionado but was looking poor and launched in the luxury age of pens ! Probably the same pen today was a good idea
Which pen do you consider to be Visconti’s flagship?
Divine Proportion as concept , design etc, no doubt is one of world’s greatest designs ever. Metropolis for mechanism and ingeneering is a real masterpiece, and for me that I conceived the entire mechanism, is a huge stisfaction.
How the number of pens in a limited edition is decided?
From few points : price range, design, concept . There is always a big fight between the pens we can sell , and the right number to make them collectible. Please notice that most of our limited are sold out and this means that the public welcomes a lot our pens
Palladium nibs :How do you compare in production costs with 18Kt and is it proposed to extend your being offered in other models? Production cost of PD is much higher than gold due to the problem of lamination of the metal and due to its manufacturing still for many views unknown. We are making experience. The success with the public is pushing us to extend to all Visconti models .
There haven’t been a lot of recent pens in celluloid; are there any particular reasons for this? Are for instance EU health & safety regulations making the production of celluloid and/or celluloid pens cost prohibitive?
The reason is that the celluloid maker has raised the price to over 150 euro per kilo. Minimum investment is 30 /40 .0000 euros for a new color. To make one pen we need 200 /300 grams of material…..if we make not too much waste. Is understandable that the investment is very high.
How long on average does it take to design a regular edition pen, from original idea/concept through prototypes to final design (for production*)?A limited edition pen?Depends from item to item.If we have the base of the pen , for a design just few weeks, for Metropolis it took 2 years.If we are develpoping new technology it may take years. The Forbidden city since I got the idea took 7 years before I was able to produce it..
Also do you plan to give a lifetime warranty on their pens?
All Visconti pens are lifetime for mechanical faults, that do not means we will repair the pen if is brocken by customer fault. Many people thinks that a lifetime warranty means that whatever happens we will repair the pen. It means that any problem that can be caused from a fault in manufacturing is serviced in warranty , nothing else.
Does Visconti service have a target for replying to emails, e.g. within 2 days, 1 week?
Visconti after sales service is usually performed from 5 to 15 days since the pen reached Florence.We have an internet repair service were our distributors can easily check the status of the repair. For Visconti luxury starts after we have sold the pen with a perfect after sales service. We usually answer all mails in 1 day.Are you considering expanding those wonderful palladium nibs into more sizes? Such as OBB Sure after we will be able to satisfy the demand for most popular points.The request of that points is very little anyhow we will carry all points. Are What other pens in that size and shape is he considering?? Amazing news…top secret ! You will be surprised with something were Visconti is first ….again !
After the lava pen, will there be a return to color?…Same answer !…..ops ! ….Yes and unbelievable ! Sorry it was secret !
What other future overlays? We have just machined a beautiful pen overlay for one of …our competitors !Will be in the market very shortly and will see who is able to recognize the tailorist hand.
Does Visconti envision any limited editions in the vein of the Taj Mahal, Camelot and Forbidden City? Just wait a few months to see a pen at the level of the above pens, in other words a show piece.
Any chance of a few new issues in new celluloid patterns, possibly with the old wave clip most of us love to death?
Thank you for the information !I was thinking nobody liked the Voyager clip ! I will consider this suggestion I also love that clip so much !!
Are you going to manufacture crescent filler again in the future?No for two reasons : crescent filler has a rubber sac that needs lot of service, than is too much recognized as a Conklin product, a brand that I love and the actual Conklin owner is a good friend of mine !
Would you consider doing something like the Voyager (demo) power filler body with the Van Gogh style resins?
This is a good idea but Van gogh resin is very difficult to machine,….probably no we will not do.
is there any place for someone who wants a beautiful but lighter pen without metal sections in a non-LE pen? For my taste this is what I like , but market feed back is that light pens are unexpensive. I have the lightest bike but seems this is different for pens !
What new materials other than lava? Any old materials?
Visconti has 2 new materials in our pocket Old materials we have used all of those and except celluloid only ebonite is left. Casein is too unstable to produce a quality pen. Ebonite itself due to sulfur raising is tough to sell in a shop after 2 months !
Is Visconti considering to produce titanium grade 5 or high modulus carbon bodied pens?
Our Skeleton was grade 5 cut out, an unsurpassed and still not copied masterpiece.
We will not make it again. We have custom made 4 carbon fiber pens togheter with a famous carbon fiber maker for their corporate gifts. This rare Visconti pens are not available in the market and are in the hands of famous people in Ferrari , Lamborghini, Bugatti and Toro Rosso the Formula one team or famous Perini sailing ships. Anyhow I will ask my friend to allow me a small collectible edition of these masterpieces.
What about asking about their range of inks and whether they plan any changes to colours why can’t we get ink in larger sizes in the states than 30 or 50ml?
Ink demand is really very limited and this is the answer to both questions. Do not forget that manufacturing the bottle is very expensive and the investment very high.
A huge thank you to friends from Zoss,Pentrace and FPN for their ideas and support.