Giuliano Mazzuoli is a designer with a penchant for watches.
Having released the Manometro range in 2004 to not inconsiderable acclaim, he's spent the past few years trying to develop a second range of watches. Now, finally, and after four year's effort Mazzuoli has released the Contagiri, a watch with three worldwide patents and a rather distinctive look. I caught up with him in London at the recent SalonQP event, and while my Italian is about as poor as my formal dancing, I was able to have a brief chat to the man himself.
The Contagiri is unusual for a number of reasons, not least because it lacks a crown. Or rather, it lacks a traditional crown, having a gear-change mechanism operated from a hidden lever on the left side of the watch. Pulling on the lever reminds one of the 'flappy paddle' gears of modern cars; pulling on the lever moves the mechanism into "first gear" allowing the user to wind the watch. Pulling on the lever again operates "second gear" in order to set the time.
|The Contagiri, modelled by Mazzuoli|
This is a watch without a crown, a world-first in the eyes of Mazzuoli. "It's like a Christmas tree", he says through his interpretor. "Anyone can add decoration to it, but to take away items, while still leaving the sense of a Christmas tree. That is the challenge."
Certainly it's a challenge that he appears to have overcome. the Contagiri is sleek, 44mm across and utterly round. It's a shock at first, seeing a crown-less watch; reminiscent of the classic Harwood Automatics, but at the same time, so completely different. Taking inspiration again from the world of motor sport, the Contagiri evokes a sense of speed (or should that be speedo?).
The hand moves in a 270 degree retrograde arc, tracing the time across the black dial that reminds one immediately of the dashboard of a classic auto. Not surprisingly, as Mazzuoli has taken his design cues from the world of Alfa Romeo, releasing two Contagiri models with ties to the classic marque - an Alfa-branded dial and a Limited Edition 8C.
It's a beautifully crafted piece. Comfortable. Striking. Unusual. It was a pleasure to meet Mazzuoli, and a pleasure to see his pieces up close. They are available in London at Kronometry 1999 and Jura Watches. I suggest you go and see them before someone else beats you it.