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Interview with Guglielmo Sordi Founder of Asia Leader

Since I published my first Microbrands book I have had the opportunity to get in touch with many people from all over the world.

I got to know a lot of Microbrand owners and independent watchmakers who made their dream come true: a watch that reflected their ideas and their vision.

After some time, however, I also got to understand all the problems that are behind a watch: production times, quality control, value for money, movement, case, marketing…etc.

I was particularly struck by the fact that many new aspiring microbrands often asked where to start and who to contact to realize their project as many of the factories are located in China and Hong Kong and therefore the distance entails many difficulties.

After so long I finally had the opportunity to interview an active person in the world of watchmaking for many many years and that gave the opportunity to make many watches and give life to many projects thanks to his skills and the skills of the people with whom works.

Guglielmo Sordi – the connection with Asia

This person is Guglielmo Sordi, an Italian watch expert (who lived in China (Shenzen) for 10 yearsand) and founder of Asia Leader, a company located in Hong Kong.

The Sordi family has been active in the world of watchmaking for more than 30 years and after a visit of the city and understanding the great work and value Guglielmo founded in Hong Kong his company in 2007.

Guglielmo has travelled a lot between Italy and Asia over the years assisting and training his collaborators and after all these years of work in 2021 he decided to continue to follow his company while staying in Italy, remaining in close contact with his collaborators.

The way I came into contact with Guglielmo is very funny.

As you can imagine Guglielmo also has his own line of watches called Atto Verticale (Vertical Act) and which is obviously present in my Microbrands Book and during our first meeting I came to know the history of Guglielmo that I think is really interesting to recount.

Giuseppe Marasco: thank you Guglielmo for beign here with us today! Your story is very interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey and your work?

Guglielmo Sordi: my career in watchmaking started when I was around 24 years old in the early 80s after I left my philosophy studies by helping my father opening one of the first organised watch production companies in Italy with local brands as first clients.

Giuseppe Marasco: can you explain us in details what is your job as a watch manufacturer?

Guglielmo Sordi: my job consists in receiving a drawing of a watch, an idea and turning it into reality, transforming it into a feasible project. From the technical drawing we understand if your idea is feasible and then we move forward with all the process. What we do specifically is manage and coordinate all the activities that bring the watch to be then 100% realized. We speak directly with all suppliers, choosing the right ones according to certain quality standards and according to customer requirements.

Giuseppe Marasco: how important is your work today?

Guglielmo Sordi: manage all these tasks (cases, dials, movements and much more) is very difficult. For example, a person can talk to an expert of dials but knows nothing about cases. For this reason it is very important to know how to coordinate all these activities. What we do is assist the client in all this without him going crazy and without loosing time and money.

Giuseppe Marasco: Can you tell us how your relationship with Asia began?

Guglielmo Sordi: I lived in Shenzen (China) for 10 years and having lived for 10 years I came in and stayed in touch with the heart of the industry

In particular I have decided to live in China (Shenzen) to train my collaborators with the best skills. Everything started In the mid ’80s, I went on a trip to Hong Kong when I saw that there was a watch production there. During a trip we went to see with my brother some companies that produced cases and we were really impressed.

So we decided to move part of our business to Hong Kong. I had also suppliers in Taiwan where they specialized in dials and in Hong Kong where they specialized in cases. Now our office are based in the discritc of Industrial Designer, very nice and interesting place.

Giuseppe Marasco: How has changed the work you do today compared to what you did at the time?

Guglielmo Sordi: the big difference is the presence of a technical project today. For example in the old times to choose a case we just went to the factories of cases selecting existing models through samples. Therefore there were no internal technical offices except in the Swiss sector. The basis of our work today is to have design compatible with materials and an engineering project (if the production technologies are right, if the technical plans have the necessary tolerances and many other things). Behind each watch produced there is a technical design as well as aesthetic. This has been the big evolution in the manufacture of watches, having a technical design that corresponds to certain quality standards.

Giuseppe Marasco: today you are based in Italy but your company is constantly working in Hong Kong right? Can you manage all the things?

Guglielmo Sordi: after many years of work and travel and after Covid I decided to stay in Italy with my family and go to Asia during the year, managing the company from Italy and always remaining in close contact with my collaborators. After all these years my collaborators are highly trained and talking to me is like having Asia on the other side of the desk.

Giuseppe Marasco: what advice would you give to those who want to make their own microbrand?

Guglielmo Sordi: our customers often tend to change their minds about the project especially during delicate phases and this obviously makes the realization of the project more difficult and more expensive. What I recommend is to try to understand well what you want for your watch and to have a clear idea.

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