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 interiors.
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