Is there a watch aficionado out there who doesn’t also harbor a passion for fast cars? The link between the two has been extensively documented, with scores of top brands – from Hublot to IWC to Breitling – linking up with luxury motoring marques to produce limited edition timepieces.
Italy is arguably the European nation that’s home to the most passionate petrolheads. For proof, look no further than the obsessive Ferrari fans – the tifosi – that attend F1 races at Monza. It’s little wonder, then, that a motor racing influenced premium watch brand would also hail from the spiritual home of automotive excellence.
That brand is Meccaniche Veloci (‘‘mechanical speed’’) which, since 2006, has combined elements of motor engineering with high quality watch craftsmanship, resulting in timepieces that are both striking and unique. These are large, unashamedly masculine pieces, some of which use materials that have been sourced from racing cars, bikes and even helicopters. A statement watch, then, but one that eschews the bling so beloved of other bold men’s watch brands, in favour of a tougher, stripped back aesthetic.
“I discovered this brand at Baselworld, and I fell in love with it,” says Sergio Cielo, founder and president of Cielo Venezia 1270, the Italian luxury goods company that includes Meccaniche Veloci in its ‘brand umbrella.’ “Just as the brand was born out of men’s passion for speed and challenges, I love doing challenging things in my life. So I decided to take this challenge too, and launch the brand internationally.”
Since then, the brand has continued to evolve. From its initial offering, the Quattro Valvole, with its four movement four timezone face that took its design cues from a famous four valve Ferrari engine, to later iterations that include a power reserve model and a dual time zone version, they proved an instant hit with a new breed of watch fans.
“Our customers are a broad mix,” says Cielo. “Of course, there are those who are passionate about speed, motorsports and watches. But we also have football players – Cristiano Ronaldo is a fan – plus VIPs, CEOs and so on. The Italian rugby star Martin Castrogiovanni is also one of our brand ambassadors.”
Unsurprisingly for a brand built on a love of adrenaline-fuelled adventure, the Meccaniche Veloci designers continue to reveal thrilling new models. These include a collaboration with Brembo, manufacturer of disc brakes for sports cars, on the CCM limited edition models. Taking the brake’s carbon ceramic materials as a starting point, Meccaniche Veloci uses high-pressure water jet technology to mould the tough material and transform it into the thin plates of the dials of this special collection.
The most popular piece to date, though, is the innovative Quattro Valvole Only One. Genuinely one-of-a-kind, each watch in this collection is constructed using recovered materials from the world of speed, such as the fibreglass body of a Ferrari Formula 1 car, a helicopter’s fuselage or the petrol tank of a Moto GP bike. “We literally travel the world to source special components which have been used for speed and sports competitions throughout history. No one will own the same watch as you,” says Cielo.
A skeletonised Quattro Valvole and a neat driver’s watch, the Chrono Driver – which offers an adjustable case position for ease of viewing while doing some speedy motoring – complete the brand’s core collections. Of course, there are a number of luxury limited editions also available, plus the occasional bespoke request.
Says Cielo: “We were once asked to create a unique piece made of gold and diamonds for a princess from Arabia. I have to be very secretive on her name!”
This is a brand that has generated a serious and devoted following in a relatively short space of time and with next year’s Baselworld fast approaching, you can expect Cielo and his team to produce a suitably full throttle offering for the world’s biggest watch show. The Meccaniche Veloci journey has only just begun.
In Brief: Sergio Cielo
What can’t you live without?
Definitely my company.
Would you rather create a groundbreaking watch or get to walk on the moon for ten minutes?
Walk on the moon….to be inspired for a new groundbreaking watch!
When you meet people at a party, what’s the first thing they say when you tell them what you do for a living?
The first thing they say is, “Your watch is awesome,” before I’ve even mentioned my company!
If you were put in charge of the watch industry for the day, what rules would you impose?
I don’t like to impose rules; I think that being independent and free is a prerequisite for being creative and for guaranteeing innovation in the watch industry.
Having achieved so much already, what’s next for your brand?
We’ll work on developing new functions in our watches, by being consistent to our own essence at the same time. We’re also planning to cover new market segments.