What Makes an Italian Watch Truly Italian?

Italy’s most fashionable avoid the boring, and that goes for their watches as much as anything else

This article, written by Michael Clerizo, appears on The Wall Street Journal.

Italian watches? Everyone knows about Panerai and Bulgari, and then the flaccid horological extensions of famous fashion brands. That is it, right? No, non è vero—it isn’t true. OK, what else is there? And, what exactly is an Italian watch? That leads to another question: What is Italian design beyond the usual adjectives of style, flair and exuberance?

Denis Guidone, a 37-year-old Italian architect/designer whose Milan studio has produced suitcases, sofas, chairs, tables, notebooks and quartz watches, is certain about the character of Italian design: “It should be provocative and mix the rational and irrational together.”

Great Italian design possesses a playful attitude and a rigorous imagination, says Mr. Guidone. His newest watch, for the brand Projects, is Suprematism, based on an early 20th-century Russian art movement, which prized another quality Mr. Guidone sees as essential to Italian design: simplicity. His white-dial watch has three rectangular hands, yellow for hours, gray for minutes and black for seconds. Paring the watch to essentials displays the rigorous imagination; and the continually changing shapes formed as the hands circumnavigate the dial capture the playfulness.

Italo Fontana, the 50-year-old founder and creative force of U-Boat, believes Italy’s history and culture influences his designs. “I was born in Lucca just a few kilometers from Florence, capital of the Renaissance. It means a lot for me, and since the beginning I am proudly standard-bearer of the ‘Made in Tuscany’ values.

“Bella Figura is in everything we Italians do, also in design…

In everything, we add our innate taste, open mind towards the future, with a full respect of traditions. Myself, I get always inspiration from particular objects, atmospheres and situations surrounding me, so, of course, I will do my best for being part of that Italian history.” Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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