As Bernie Ecclestone already taught us with his infamous black-eyed Hublot-advertisements, owning very desirable watches does come with some risks. Giuliano Mazzuoli knows that better than anyone else. Unfortunately…
From a robbery to Crowe’s and Sheeran’s wrists
When Giuliano Mazzuoli entered his workshops on the early morning on Sunday, May 12, the Italian watchmaker encountered a nightmare. “I noticed that strangely a door was open,” Mazzuoli writes. “Inside everything seemed in order, but there was a kind of rod on the floor that was about three or four meters long made of strips of plastic that were joined together with adhesive tape that drew my attention. I didn’t know who could have made this and what it was supposed to be for. The rod wasn’t too far from the entry door to the room where the safe is located which was closed but the alarm system was off.”
His spokesman doesn’t want to go in too much detail about the robbery, but Mazzuoli goes on in telling detail. “I became suspicious. I proceeded and went towards another room that few know the existence of. The door of the room was open and inside the light was on. From the room came a particular and strong smell like something was burned inside. Once I went inside I saw a scenario from a war zone. There was not even the shadow of my watches, but only wreckage and horror.”
Giuliano Mazzuoli with the inspiration behind his watches, a Manometro
“For 96 years May 12th was the day of my mother’s birthday,” Mazzuoli continues. “At 72 years old I felt like crying. I almost did calling and talking to a friend who is like a big brother to me who knows the world of watchmaking very well and he encouraged me to react because the terrible thing that happened is an affirmation of the value and the interest that there is around my watches.”
When asked how much the thieves took, Mazzuoli can’t answer. If the insurance company helps him out, he can’t tell either. The only thing he can express is his grief, and the pain it did to him to be robbed from his most dear possessions: his watches.
“But the damage is substantial,” his spokesman says. “And Giuliano could do only one thing: go on. Concentrate on the Manometro and all the other watches that define the brand.”
Luckily, Giuliano Mazzuoli is a courageous man. It did take some courage in the first place to introduce a watch brand called by his own name. But to introduce a watch that was inspired by a vintage and initially not very interesting pressure gauge, now that is something different. It was the claim to fame that launched Giuliano Mazzuoli into watch-coolness fourteen years ago.
He called his watch the Manometro, and it was a rather unusually shaped wrist watch. The Italian petrolhead who designed it took design cues from a hand-operated pressure gauge and made a very functionally looking yet expressive design. You know, the stuff they do best in Italy.
But whereas other brands that rely heavily on vintage designs loose their cool after a little while, Giuliano has not. His timepieces are still cool, they still stand out and these watches are still very, very exclusive. Not to say expensive, though, ’cause Mazzuoli is still a kind man, too.
Actor Russell Crowe and Giuliano Mazzuoli
So what makes his watches still stand out? Is it the kind of off-the-record celebrity endorsements? Not too long ago, A-list actor Russel Crowe took to Twitter together with British comedian Jimmy Carr to both show their love for Mazzuoli’s watches. Neither of the men was paid for it, and both were smiling profoundly. And that was only days after Crowe did the same thing with British singer Ed Sheeran – who has done unofficial promotional work for the Italian watch maker more than once.
Russell Crowe and Ed Sheeran, both wearing Mazzuoli watches – image from Twitter
Fun fact: it was actually Russel Crowe who introduced Ed Sheeran to the Mazzuoli watches. When asked about his famous fans, Mazzuoli answers in typical understated fashion. “They are just passionate about watches,” he says. “We have no commercial relationship with them, and they’re not paid ambassadors. I mean… Ed just bought the Manometro earlier this year because he liked it.” Asked whether he still stays in touch with his famous fans, the answer is surrounded by a little bit of Italian mystery: “celebrities have very busy schedules, but they like the watches.”
And that’s perfectly sensible. Not to say anything unkind about these three giants of their crafts, but it’s actually them getting some coolness from their watches – and not the other way around.
Giuliano Mazzuoli design’s recipe
So what is Giuliano’s secret? Basically, it’s just Giuliano himself. Giuliano Mazzuoli is Giuliano Mazzuoli, no matter what happens. When he got robbed a short while ago, he responded by continuing to make his watches. And he still takes his design cues from cars – because he’s still Italian and a petrolhead after all.
He makes most of his watches in limited (and numbered) editions, which is logical given the fact that Mazzuoli still is a very small watch brand. Most of his creations are re-editions of the same basic models. Most important of all is the Manometro, the handpump-inspired watch we mentioned earlier. The classic version has an ivory dial and light brown calf-skin leather strap. Watches start at EUR 2,500, which is fine given the fact that they’re all driven by an ETA 2824/2. The steel cases are quite big: 45 millimetres in diameter and 14 millimetres in height. The chrono version will set you back EUR 4600.
One step more modern (and even cooler, in our modest opinion) is the Contagiri. This watch takes it’s design (as you will know by the name) from rev counters in cars. Sure, the time is not very readable on the watch, but that uncompromising design approach is exactly what makes Mazzuoli stand out. These watches are immediately in a different price category, however: add some 10k to the previous prices and there you go. The question inevitably rises where the price difference comes from, and the most honest answer would be: Giuliano’s coolness.
But there’s also the movement, the Cambiosequenziale mechanical calibre (an ETA base modified with a retrograde module). Giuliano Mazzuoli doesn’t want to go in too much detail on the partners he worked with to develop the movement, but he can tell it went through “different Swiss laboratories”. The mechanical movement with automatic winding has a 42-hour power reserve and is made of 131 components.
The latest addition to his collection is the Carrara, a watch that shows Mazzuoli’s media-savvy instincts. Mazzuoli comes from Florence and that is what he shows most in this watch. The case is made from Carrara marble, which of course is a direct reference to the historic place that he has called home for over seventy years. It was extracted from the Alps, about 100 kilometres from Florence. The calf-skin leather strap was also made by a Tuscan pelleteria. All very instragrammable but not very pragmatic choices.
So, coming back to the main question – the one we wondered about earlier. What makes Giuliano Mazzuoli stand out? In the first place, it’s his own very specific view of the world. Giuliano Mazzuoli is born and raised in Florence, in the heart of Tuscany, where his grandfather used to be a church clock repairman. Mazzuoli didn’t get a degree in design or architecture, but has developed such a fine taste that he, and only he, can make the watches he wants to make. This combines his love for cars, for Italy, for living with a smile and an incredibly patient attention to details while still staying true to basic design features such as legibility. He often says that the writing instruments, agenda books, notebooks, and watches created by Mazzuoli are something encountered and not developed through study and research.
But trying to deconstruct his designs would kill everything Giuliano Mazzuoli stands for. It’s exactly that combination of values that makes his watches still some of the coolest around. After the robbery, Mazzuoli wrote in a statement: “I didn’t think that Manometro would attract the attention of thieves so determined to take them away.” He couldn’t have been more wrong.
More details at www.giulianomazzuoli.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.