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  • Lori Bryan

Back in June, a Medici was on the mind of Markus Döttling. “The most

outstanding piece just arrived from Italy, a [safe] from the Medici dynasty

originally produced in Milan in 1770,” said Markus, the German-born, 36-year-old

chief executive of Döttling Luxury Safes. His great-grandfather, Ernst Döttling,

founded the family business in 1919 in Sindelfingen, Germany, where the workshop

has been ever since. “We’re thinking about what to do with this safe,” Markus

said of the Medici piece, which he described as standing 6.5 feet high and 5.4

feet wide with beautiful engravings. “We have an idea to create an interior for

Cognac, cigars, and watches that can be divided in sections and is very large.”

Today the CEO, a master locksmith like his forefathers, is thinking even

bigger: In addition to procuring, restoring, and transforming vintage vaults

such as the Medici, Döttling is producing a line of all-new, customizable,

high-security safes called State-of-the-Art. The first in the series—the

880-pound Bel-Air—evokes a classic wardrobe or steamer trunk; prices for the

limited-edition safe begin at about $120,000 and increase depending on the

features that are added. Options for the State-of-the-Art safes (all of which

incorporate armor plating and rare woods) include exotic leathers, 24-karat gold

trimming, and handpainted finishes. But the safes’ true point of distinction,

according to Markus, is that they can be molded, inside and out, in modern or

antique shapes, to suit a customer’s requirements.

To be sure that he fully

understands those needs, Markus travels to meet with each client at the outset

of a project. Only after that will his team, which includes several artisans

whose fathers and grandfathers also worked for the company, begin designing and

building a safe to house the client’s guns, watches, jewelry, cigars, wet

bars—whatever. Clients are invited to visit the firm’s Sindelfingen facility to

witness the construction of the pieces and the outfitting of their interiors,

which might include racks, shelves, lockable drawers, or humidors. Rudolf

Rincklake van Endert, a longtime craftsman of yacht, aviation, and resort

interiors who recently joined the Döttling team, oversees the creation of the


Markus assures clients that, in addition to the desired aesthetic accoutrements, each safe will have the level of security its owner requires,

however elaborate that might be. “The highest price we received in the last

year,” says Markus, “was [nearly $1 million]. The piece, for a client in Los

Angeles, was an antique with a defense system. A microcamera was installed

inside and connected with the [client’s] home alarm system. When an intruder is

inside the room, the camera inside the safe detects the intruder and then calls

the owner’s cell phone. The safe is able to exhaust a fog that would immobilize

the intruder.” Through its partnership with the Los Angeles– and Washington,

D.C.–based firm SAFE (Strategically Armored and Fortified Environments), which

designed that safe’s defense system, Döttling can likewise equip a brand-new

State-of-the-Art safe.

Döttling Luxury Safes

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