Giorgia Mondani was a professional tennis player in her teens, becoming one of the best 400 players in the world by age 18. She left that behind at 19 to finish her studies and ultimately interned at Swiss auction house Antiquorum. Her father, Guido Mondani, is a Rolex expert, famed author of Rolex books and an avid collector. Giorgia joined the family business, Mondani Books, and became an accomplished author herself, but her passion was to create a business of her own. She set up Mondani Web a few years ago and grew a comprehensive network of trusted sellers and partners, bringing a safe and reliable online resource to buyers and enthusiasts. Whether buying, selling or simply seeking detailed information, Mondani Web and Mondani Books are among the best resources today.
We recently had the pleasure to chat with Giorgia about her life, passions and business, and with over 180,000 Instagram followers and a thriving online network, Giorgia reinforces the fact that a woman can lead in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Erik Slaven, MONOCHROME – Is there a specific watch or memory that really sparked your interest in watches growing up? Did you have a special watch or collection? Or was it simply a result of your father’s passion rubbing off.
Giorgia Mondani – One of the events that really marked my story in the beautiful world of horology was the Mondani Auction, held in Geneva in 2006. The auction wasn’t limited to my story, but the entire world of auctions. The Mondani Collection of 309 Rolex wristwatches realized an astounding total of CHF 11,037,278. Several world records were set, most significantly by Ref. 4113, a flyback chronograph that sold for CHF 738,500. This is the highest price ever for a Rolex watch at the time.
The room was full of collectors and dealers from all over the world. They bid on so many watches and the two sessions were really exciting. I’ve attended many auctions after that one, even working for more than a year at Antiquorum, and I now attend all of the Geneva auctions annually. I never saw a sale like this!
In the past, I didn’t have a favourite watch, but literally grew up surrounded by Rolex watches from my dad’s collection. I do have a couple of favourite watches now – the Rolex Day-Date Ref. 118238 in yellow gold that Daniele gave me as a gift during our wedding and a Rolex Sea-Dweller “Triple Six” ref. 16660 from 1984 that my parents gave me on my 30th birthday. 1984 is also my birth year.
Your father is a well-known Rolex author, collector and expert. Did he have a passion for many brands or was his focus primarily on Rolex? Am I correct to say that he was also an avid collector of Patek Philippe? And were his collecting and subsequent books the result of a Rolex moon phase ref. 8171 he received from his wife in 1986?
Correct, he started to get into the watch world in 1986 when my mum gave him the Rolex moon phase as a gift. It was love at first sight and at the time he was already a well-known published author but in a totally different field. He decided to match his work and new passion and started to write books about Rolex. In that époque, everything was totally different from now. There was no real information out there and both collectors and dealers were “hungry” for certain and safe information. He started collecting information, auction catalogues, Rolex documents, etc. He began this long journey that brought us here today – to become the world’s leading publishing house in the domain of watches.
He still is an avid Rolex collector, even though he sold more than 300 watches at auction, but as you said, he’s also a Patek collector and has great pieces in his collection.
Prior to setting up mondaniweb.com, did you pursue other professional goals outside of the watch industry?
I joined the family business at Mondani Books around 10 years ago after spending over a year working at Antiquorum. From those times, I didn’t really think about leaving the watch world because I truly liked and enjoyed it. I have always wanted to build something new, something that’s mine. With Mondani Web, I finally had the chance. I have to be honest, the idea and first steps happened thanks to my husband Daniele. He was the first one who really believed in social media and built our huge network of millions of followers and a large number of profiles. From social media to a real company was a quick step and four years ago we created Mondani Web. This was also in collaboration with my parents. Unfortunately, in Italy, as everybody knows, it’s not easy to launch and lead a business in recent years. However, month after month the company grew and we soon had to hire people. A dream was becoming true, little by little, and now we have proudly selected more than 140 trusted dealers and over 40 partners. These include Chronoswiss, Antiquorum, Christie’s, Bukowskis, and many more.
We carefully select every single dealer and partner as we don’t want thousands and thousands of dealers. We’ll keep working with a small, selected and exquisite quantity of watch dealers who can benefit from our many exclusive advantages. See our social media packages and request an invitation to join.
So, you set up and run Mondani Web, which has a very comprehensive network of brands, sellers and partners.
Yes, as I previously mentioned, Mondani Web is an important reality today in the watch business, because we personally expose ourselves to support our trusted dealers. We proudly guarantee their seriousness and reliability, and we strictly connect our name to theirs. I don’t think there are other companies that can do this today. Some online platforms work with a large number of dealers and watches, and it isn’t humanly possible to have a completely safe environment and quality controls with that. Many blogs work from paid advertisements and at the end of the day, we’re just bombarded with information about watches. Good sources are simply not easy, and on that note, I’m proud to appear on MONOCHROME as I consider this one of the best sites today.
Mondani Web is the leading agency of communication in the world of watches. We specialize in managing and promoting watch dealers, watch brands and auction houses on the main social media and through our bid data base. We receive several offers to work with brands out of the watch industry, but always refuse as we prefer to remain in the domain we know best.
As you said, you’ve developed a network of trusted dealers and partners online, allowing buyers and enthusiasts to confidently find used/vintage watches and information without feeling like they’re navigating the wild west. Was there simply a lack of reliability in the online industry and did you see a broken system?
I talk with many collectors on a daily basis and most complain about how dangerous it is to buy on the main online platforms and e-commerce sites. And I totally agree. Today, everyone pretends to be a dealer, they create a VAT company and become trusted professional sellers. But how many bad watches do we see every day online? How many bad experiences from online purchases do we hear about? A lot! So, our idea is to fill this lack thanks to our connections and knowledge. As I mentioned, we personally “show our face” to support our dealers and in the rare cases there are problems, we always respond and fix. I honestly think that the Mondani Web Trusted Dealers are the world’s most reliable watch sellers.
What are the requirements to become part of the Mondani family – What do you look for in sellers?
I look for seriousness, reliability, professionalism and the quality of their watches. I personally know many of the watch dealers from around the world and I know who is a good seller and who is not. My opinion and personal experience are the first criteria I use. In the rare cases that I don’t know the seller and this person requires to join, my team and I do a lot of research before acceptance. First, we check the watches for sale and if the quality is ok, we then look for clients’ feedback. We have thousands of clients all over the world coming from the books’ activity so it’s not difficult to find opinions about dealers. The most important thing for us is to remain focused on the quality and not the quantity. We really don’t care to have 2,000 trusted dealers when we can’t guarantee for them. Also, one of the benefits for my dealers is an exclusive WhatsApp group for buying, selling and trading, and I personally check the positive outcome of every single transaction. This would be impossible with too many dealers. Today, there are so many free WhatsApp groups, but Mondani’s chat has a real control on transactions. If a dealer does something that’s against the role, he’s out – I don’t care how much he pays for promotions, etc. The dealer simply did not respect the rules and broke my trust.
You’re in the middle of what’s traditionally male-dominated industry. Do you find that you’re in an unusual position and is this ever challenging?
Being one of the few women in a male world has its pros and cons, and I knew this from the beginning. I have strict rules when meeting clients at the shows. For example, I have never accepted an invitation for dinner or a drink, and since I started dating Daniele (who then became my husband), I never travelled alone. All of my clients have my personal telephone number for WhatsApp, but our conversations are always very limited to professional topics.
I think in the beginning, my role in this business as a woman was a bit underestimated, but my continuous presence led many people to change their opinion. Instagram also helped me a lot in this. The magic of social media gave me a lot of popularity because I could finally show the world what I was doing – my knowledge, connections, travels, etc. It definitely wasn’t easy as social media is a full-time job and I still spend a huge number of hours per day on my profile.
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Do you have future plans for Mondani Web? What would you like to see in five years?
I have a lot of ideas in my head, but can’t reveal them all! And just being 100% honest, life is made of priorities and next year Daniele and I are having our second baby. I’m going to take a big break from work-family first every day! But, Mondani Web will still be there and my team will do a great job taking care of all of our dealers and partners. I have great plans for Mondani Web in the coming years and a sure thing is that our priority will always be relationships and people. We’ll keep working with a very small and selected quantity of dealers and will keep doing our best for them.
Also, it’s not easy to make long term plans because Mondani Web is not only connected to the watch business, but also to technology and social trends. Our goal is to provide the best exposure in every channel that people use. If the world moves, for example, from Instagram to another social platform, we’ll make sure to be a leader in that new community as well. We’ll strive to provide the best visibility to all of our clients. Furthermore, we’ll use more WhatsApp, apps and all of the special gifts that technology is giving us.
In the short term, our next step is to launch the Mondani Magazine app. This is our yearly publication and it will finally be available in a digital format! That’s quite a big step for us as the Mondani Magazine, published every year by Mondani Web, is a very complete publication. In fact, it’s very similar to a book with content written by international experts, book authors and other important voices in the horological world. The app will allow people to read these texts forever and also allow our sponsors to have non-stop visibility.
What else can I say – keep following me to see more…