Anonymous To Anonimo
 
With characteristically Florentine spirit, Anonimo announced its renaissance by returning to Baselworld this year after a two-year period of absence.
 
The manufacture was founded in 1997 by Federico Massacesi, formerly of Salvatore Ferragamo and took the name Anonimo (meaning “anonymous” in Italian) to reflect the brand’s ethos that “the watches are not about us, they are about the individual who wears them and are a testimony to and an expression of the personality of the wearer.”  True to its word, the brand upheld a degree of anonymity by omitting its name from the dials of its watches; and across the entire collection, the trapezoidal “A” insignia was the only stamp of provenance.
 
Though a young brand, Anonimo is the heir to a quite distinguished Florentine watchmaking tradition. The current ateliers have been in service since 1939 and were built specifically for manufacturing watch cases. Casemaking continues to be of paramount importance at Anonimo and the brand has received acclaim for innovations in the functionality and design of its cases. The success of the original Millemetri diver’s model, released in 1998, gave Anonimo the opportunity to work in collaboration with the diving company Cooperativa Nazionale Sommozzatori (C.N.S). This relationship has allowed Anonimo to test its divers’ watches in deep water operations and experiment further with novel materials and design elements.
 
Anonimo has since forged a fine reputation for itself. At present, the brand’s largest following is in the United States, where several high profile celebrities can be counted among the many “Anonomists”. 2010 represents a renaissance for the brand after a difficult period during the global economic crisis, and aficionados have been eagerly awaiting the unveiling of new models at Baselworld. The first big revelation is that Anonimo’s dials are no longer anonymous and are printed with the words: “Anonimo. Handcrafted in Firenze”. TimepieceReview met with Anonimo president and founder Federico Massacesi to discover the 2010 novelties and learn more about the innovative case manufacturing processes that have set the brand apart from many of its competitors.
 
Movements
 
Mr. Maracessi explains that the focus at Anonimo is firmly on case architecture and by this he is referring not only to the aesthetics of the case (no sooner have we sat down than we are admiring the verdigris on the bronze case of a Polluce model) but also to the ergonomics and the materials. Maracessi is indeed steering his brand towards a position among the industry leaders in case design. In terms of movements, the brand has been less dynamic, but by no means neglectful. Solid ETA and Selita movements are employed with Dubois Depraz and Soprod modules, and rotors often manufactured “upon Anonimo specifications”. A handful of Dubois Depraz movements are provided exclusively for Anonimo.
 
Cases
 
The first thing that distinguishes the powerful watch cases at Anonimo is that they are milled from a single block of metal. Anonimo currently manufactures steel and bronze cases and has developed two exclusive treatments for stainless steel: “Ox Pro” and “Drass”. The words “Handcrafted in Firenze” now appear on the dials of Anonimo watches to underline the fact that the case manufacturing processes and hand finishing take place entirely in Tuscany.
 
 
 
 
The bronze cases are rendered in marine bronze, a compound of copper, iron and nickel, which presents a number of advantages over other bronze alloys: greater strength, increased resistance to corrosion and increased resistance to metal fatigue. The same material is commonly used for landing gear components on aircrafts, ship propellers and in the petrochemical industry. However, despite the practical benefits offered by bronze, for many watch enthusiasts the primary attraction is aesthetic. The most beautiful thing about Anonimo’s bronze cases is the subtle green patina that naturally develops as a result of oxidation and gives an organic feel to the watches.
 
Anonimo originally developed Ox Pro as an alternative to the widespread PVD treatment which the brand felt to be unsatisfactory. PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) is a means of altering the surface properties of a material by bonding an extremely thin coating to the surface. With wristwatches the process is employed to serve aesthetic and practical purposes: a metal watch can be blackened, and the surface hardness of the watch case can be increased. The inherent weakness with PVD is that the deposited material remains a coating that if scratched, cannot typically be reapplied.
 
Ox Pro is actually a form of CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition). It is an oxidation process that alters the surface properties of stainless steel to make the watch non-reflective and increase its resistance to corrosion. The treatment also blackens the steel. The principle difference between Ox Pro and PVD is that Ox Pro blackens a watch through a chemical
reaction, thereby altering the properties of the metal at a molecular level, as opposed to bonding an outer coating to the surface of the material. Consequently the surface is likely to wear more evenly than a PVD surface which remains more susceptible to chipping. The process requires 14 stages and leaves the steel a warm black colour, while preserving the surface texture of the steel.
 
The evolution of the Ox Pro treatment is Drass. The process was originally named after the Italian diving equipment suppliers “Drass Galeazzi”, although Anonimo now seem to be using the “backronym”: “Double Refinished Anonimo Steel Surface”. Anonimo describe Drass as a more extensive blackening treatment based upon Ox Pro. After the 14 stages required of the Ox Pro treatment, the watch case is sandblasted, thereby removing the uppermost and least resistant surface layer. The case becomes harder and more durable as a result and takes on a subdued black colour that is reminiscent of blackened titanium. 
 
2010 Novelties
 
Anonimo’s 2010 novelties are essentially material variations of existing models. However, the changes are also accompanied by some subtle dial alterations.
 
The most arresting new arrival is the 48mm Cronoscopio Mark II Drass/Gold, a fine alternative to the stainless steel version. The gold is used sparingly, for the rotating inner flange, the 5 case screws and pusher/crown ornamentation; and the result is a sumptuous all-weather timepiece that’s suitable for formal dress and the outdoors. Inside is a Valjoux 7750, but the sub seconds register has been removed to preserve the symmetry of the dial. The accompanying Opera Kodiak leather strap is another Anonimo specialty and can be safely worn in fresh water and sea water.
 
The Firenze Dual Time has also metamorphosed into Drass and Gold, and looks spectacular. A map of the world sprawls across the dial, with Italy precisely at the centre. Double crowns of course signify two
 
 
independent movements: the caliber Anonimo 02.1 on an ETA 2678 base. Both movements have a date function but only the home time movement provides date indication alongside this. There are two immediately discernable alterations to the dial of the 2010 model: the words “Handcrafted in Firenze” arch across the top of the world map, and the Anonimo logo has switched places with the red “plus”/”minus”. The new design is an improvement to an already excellent model; perhaps the only cavil is that the word Firenze now appears twice on the dial, which seems rather clumsy.
 
The San Marco has returned in Drass in 2010 with small adjustments to its dial configuration. The previous design was famously complex, with apertures, indicators and motifs situated almost haphazardly across the dial. Nonetheless, there was clarity and balance to the design, and it has become one of the marque’s most successful pieces.  However, with additional text appearing on this year’s model (“Anonimo. Handcrafted in Firenze”), the dial is becoming worryingly close to chaotic.
 
The San Marco is named after the “Reggimento San Marco”, the operational deployment element of the landing force of the Italian Navy. There’s a lot to discover on the watch. The winged lion passant guardant at 3 is the symbol of St. Mark and by extension of the city of Venice. The large crown at 2 serves for time setting and winding, while a
 
 
secondary crown at 4 is used for rotating the internal flange to set an “H-Hour countdown”. The pusher at 9.30 is used for operating the second time zone. A date aperture is squeezed in at 2 and a very freely operating power reserve indicator sits between 5 and 6. But the most intriguing aspect of the watch is undoubtedly the D-day count down disc with diving helmet on the left side.
 
The Notturnale is the other addition to the Cronoscopio line arriving this year. It’s another attractive piece in Drass and gold, and is effectively a simplified version of the Cronoscopio Mark II. The day indication has gone, and with only one sub dial (at 6), the 12 numeral is no longer obscured. The Notturnale pays homage to a Florentine timepiece from the 16th century and bears the words “1510-2010 TRIBUTO AGLI OROLOGIAI DEI MEDICI(Tribute to the watchmakers of the Medici)” on the gold internal flange.  The Notturnale will be limited to 200 pieces.
 
Shae Spreafico and Daniel McNutt (Mar 2010)
 
For more information visit www.anonimo.com
Images: Anonimo, TimepieceReview
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