The Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte in Milan recently published La regola del talento [The Rule of Talent], presenting Italy’s seventeen foremost schools of applied arts and crafts. They include the Nazareno Fonticoli school of tailoring in Penne, a small town in Abruzzo which is also home to the head office of Brioni, a maker of luxurious menswear that was recently acquired by the Kering group. Each year the school trains tailors who go on to work for Brioni. With their diploma under their belt, graduates begin by touring the brand’s boutiques around the world. Here they gain hands-on experience in their new trade, but also learn to work with an exacting international clientele.
Brioni’s master tailor Angelo Petrucci, a jovial man and himself a former student of the school, talks about his work with the passion and enthusiasm one would expect. His conversation, which he peppers with amusing stories, always told with the utmost discretion without ever letting slip a name, nonetheless offers an image of the master craftsman that is far removed from that of the cobbler alone at his bench. Angelo is constantly between planes, working with heads of state while keeping a watchful eye over the young tailors. “We’re like pianists,” he says. “You can learn the basic techniques but each cloth must be handled in a specific way.”
Promoting the culture of fine watchmaking means we must also promote its protagonists and its stories.
Beyond the realms of haute couture, the talented “pianists” and master craftsmen to whom Angelo refers are by no means lacking. Of course they do different jobs, but the care they devote to acquainting themselves and working with their “cloth” is the same. This trait of character is even more significant in fine watchmaking, whose master craftsmen do more than embellish; they make a decisive contribution to the perfect execution of a fine timepiece. In a skeleton movement, the master watchmakers’ work is revealed in all its splendour. Its beauty is anything but superficial; it is as functional as each stroke of the tool by the stone-setters, sculptors, engravers and other masters involved in its creation.
How many tales could the Swiss masters tell? How many stories behind the making of the world’s most beautiful watches are nestled among the lakes and valleys? How many young people are fascinated by the living, lively telling of these tales, which are often infinitely more effective than any number of hours spent in the classroom? Promoting the culture of fine watchmaking means we must also promote its protagonists and its stories. These are true-life stories, almost always with a happy ending. They are worth telling, and worth listening to!