Ciao Carlo! You are a man with a truly unique style. Please tell us about the origins of your many interests – and when did your passion for watches take off?
As a young law student, I worked as a nightclub PR to support myself. I have always been passionate about watches, and with the proceeds of the work in the disco, I started buying the first pieces and reselling them to friends. I bought them abroad, in London in particular, where I spent a lot of time getting in touch with collectors and merchants.
Over the years, I expanded my range of action around the world to Asia. In addition to watches, the Asians are serious hoarders of spare parts for watches, like boxes, bracelets, antique catalogs, advertising material and photographs of watchmaking. Over the years, I have also collected a fair amount of contemporary art, like paintings and sculptures..
Please tell us a little more about your travels and adventures. How do you approach unknown territory?
I am always very curious about the different, the new and sophisticated. I have developed a completely different sense of beauty, compared to the conventional. My beauty is not that of most watch buyers. I am not interested in commercial global marketing operations pushing certain products to acquire financial wealth and status symbol value, that simply isn’t real to me.
My research has always focused on time pieces that have a story – watches that have been in wars, worn by generals, or used by explorers, aviators, divers. Or they were designed by Cassai or other great designers. Or the pieces were revolutionary, frontrunners for innovative technologies which are then employed globally.
For someone whose life is so internationally minded – how do you cope in these times where travel seems difficult, if not impossible?
I believe that it is still possible to travel and exchange experiences through the internet or social networks that allow us to see the existing collections even without physical travel. The world wide web has extended the possibility of participating in auctions all over the world online and whenever I am not practicing as a lawyer, I dedicate part of my time to searching for special objects online. However, I am looking forward to being able to travel freely again and to return to Asia.
Your life appears filled with diverse interests and a devotion to detail and history, from the shoes you’re wearing or your glasses to the armchair in your living room. Nothing about you ever seems trivial. Do you see yourself as a rebel or rather as someone who is simply concerned about consuming too blindly?
I have always made a point of not following trends. I never wanted to run around like Tom, Dick and Harry and simply lead an average life. A prime example for this approach is my Patek Nautilus.
When I bought the watch thirty years ago, no one around me cared, just like with most of the things I am into. Nowadays, this watch has become a mainstream object of desire, not only in Italy but around the world, and everyone would like to have one. Which takes away the fun of the watch. Of course that is silly, considering how much I loved this watch, I even had a custom dial.
Now the watch is in my safe and you can see me wearing a budget lady’s super compressor diver’s watch with exactly the same passion for the Nautilus. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite – of course I have objects and watches in my collection that have some value. However, monetary value has never been my real interest.
To me, a dented ring I bought for pennies from a random passer-by in India can be worth as much as the most costly watch in my collection, if not more.
Is there one object you particularly care about?
Yes – it’s a lucky charm that consists of many small objects which have accompanied me in different periods of my life and are still united by a single thread. The first object came from the Copacabana, the second from Kathmandu, the third from Naples, the fourth from Calcutta, the fifth from San Marino and the sixth from Sarsina.