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Why not...? - Nostalgia and the Anonimo Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze

Why not...? Nostalgia and the Anonimo Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze

Anonimo’s anniversary model gets us thinking about firsts.

We all remember the first time. I recall a memorable fall into a rose bush when I was trying to master a blue bicycle. Or a small boy on the sofa glued to the TV trying to watch blurry images of an astronaut landing on the moon. It was 1969.

There have been dozens of firsts in my life. Some pleasant, others painful and best forgotten. But all of these events, no matter how short, are part of our life and help us to become who we are.

So what about the first watch?

In my case it was not one I inherited, nor was it a rare piece, nor was it even from a brand that was well known at the time. It was a Certina quartz chronograph with a nice “eighties” look. I remember a short trip to Geneva, a walk through the streets of the old town, an excursion on the lake and a street with watch stores. I can’t remember whether it was the Rue du Mont-Blanc or the Rue du Rhône. At the time, I didn’t even know whether I would ever come back to the shores of the lake. Little did I know that I would end up spending a large part of my life there…

This first watch didn’t really awaken my passion for watches. Nevertheless, when I found it a few months ago it was like bumping into an old friend that I hadn’t seen for ages. I’m now trying to bring it back to life and I hope that I can wear it again soon.

My passion came later.

The passion of a collector is a deeper sentiment that takes time to take root. First you need something to set you off, then some curiosity, interest, research and, finally, a sense of accomplishment that is in fact just the beginning.

It was either an advertisement or an article about an Italian brand called Anonimo that set me off. The brand was new and therefore unknown. I was living in Geneva at the time and young Italian brands were hardly top of mind among at the local watch stores. I was living in the heart of the world capital of watchmaking, but my heart was being drawn towards a small brand from Florence!

Maybe it was because of the resemblance with the bigger sister Panerai, which was just starting to conquer the showcases of Les Ambassadeurs. I have to admit that these imposing watches, with their simple dials and their history, appealed to me. But quite honestly, I didn’t yet have enough passion to invest in a PAM.

But the picture of this Anonimo Millemetri remained stuck in my head. I started my research into the brand and the history of Florentine watchmaking. And I started imagining wearing one. But of course, no stores in Switzerland stocked the brand.

I had to wait for a trip to Paris for the dream to become reality. Since I travelled a lot, I started to look into which stores sold Anonimo watches in Europe. There weren’t many, of course, but I only needed one for the magic to happen!

It was in Paris.

I remember walking along the Rue Saint-Honoré, passing the Saint-Roch church and arriving at the Comédie-Française. On the right, there was the Rue du Rohan. And just opposite, on the other side of the street, there was a small watch store whose name I forget. But I do remember stopping in front of the window for a few moments to see – for the first time – the Anonimo Millemetri! After a short while, I entered the shop and headed over to the tiny display case containing just three or four models. I knew exactly what I wanted: the model with the black dial, on a dark-brown Kodiak (I remember the name) strap.

And that was it.

It took a few minutes to buy the watch and I left the store with it on my wrist. I set off on foot along the Avenue de l’Opéra. After that I don’t remember where I went. But I do remember that the Millemetri stayed in my collection for a long time. One day, while changing the strap, I lost one of the two attachments, and since they are proprietary to the brand and screwed, the watch no longer has a strap… I never wanted to send it in for a service. I don’t know why.

I put the watch away in a small box. I’ve moved around a lot and today I know that it is in the house somewhere, but I’ve no idea where…

Since 1998 I have never stopped following the brand’s story. I have been to Florence several times and I’ve even been very near to where my Millemetri was assembled. But I didn’t stop. Again, I have no idea why. But while writing this article, I have decided that I’m going to start looking for my Millemetri. And if I find it, maybe I will send it to Anonimo so that the watchmakers can breathe new life into it. I could then wear it again, with its Kodiak strap, the origins of whose name I still don’t know, yet it still makes me dream!

Why Anonimo?

By now you will have understood that I have a special relationship with this brand. Thinking carefully about it, it must have shaped a lot of my future passions: the simple style, micro-brands, large watches, Panerai, Italian brands and Italian style, sporty watches, tool watches etc.

Anonimo was born in 1997 at a time when Panerai, which had just been taken over by a big group, was leaving Italy for Switzerland, leaving behind the men and women responsible for its success. It also abandoned its production facility, machine tools and expertise. Federico Massacesi took up a new challenge and Anonimo was born.

The brand’s first watch was the MA – Millemetri. But other models quickly followed. There was the Militare (which I will come back to later), the Professionale, the Dino Zei and the Polluce. 

The brand infused all of its models with its DNA. Although it had some trouble reaching the same level as the big names, it is no longer merely a micro-brand. It made a significant contribution to watchmaking history by launching the first diver’s watch in bronze (after the failed attempt by Genta with the Gefica). At the time, this seemed a strange choice. It was inspired by certain Panerai prototypes and would later become a big trend in the industry thanks to… Panerai. Today I’m delighted that the brand is continuing its adventure. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017 and continues to offer very appealing watches. I only hope that they re-issue the Millemetri one day, since without it we would not be talking about Anonimo today.

The Anonimo Militare Bronze Camouflage: the heart has its reasons…

The Militare was launched in 2001. It was a chronograph whose particularity was the crown at 6 o’clock. The aim of this strange position was to protect it from shocks This stylistic choice meant that this Anonimo model would be talked about and become one of the pillars in the Florentine brand’s collection.

The inspiration for the crown at 6 o’clock might come from the French brand ZRC. It launched the first diver’s watch fitted with an off-centre crown in 1964. It was a smart move, because the watch was worn by the combat divers of the French Navy as well as the teams of Commander Cousteau.

After a change in ownership in 2013, Anonimo moved to Switzerland and launched a new collection in 2015. The Militare is naturally part of it, but this time with the crown at 12 o’clock, also inspired by the past, since Omega used the same arrangement for its Bullhead and it was also found on the mysterious Triton Spirotechnique from 1962.

Nostalgia: the Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze

Case back with Matterhorn engraving © Anonimo

In 2017 the brand celebrated its anniversary with two limited editions of its star model. The 2017 Militare comes in a 43.5mm bronze case. Bronze is part of Anonimo’s history and a commemorative model has to use this material. Its colour changes with age to take on green hues, but this depends on the wearer, whose skin type affects the ageing process. This is why the case back on the Anonimo Camouflage is in titanium. This lightweight metal protects the skin from any oxidation of the bronze. It is also, rather strangely, engraved with an image of the Matterhorn, which is a symbol of Switzerland. The crown is of course at 12 o’clock together with its protection and unlocking system.

Nostalgia: the Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze

Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze with military green dial © Anonimo

Buy this watch?

Since this is a bicompax chronograph, the steel pushers are on the right-hand side. It is fitted with the robust self-winding Sellita SW300 movement. The dial has a camouflage motif and recalls the military origins and vocation of the first Militare from 2001. It has large 12, 8 and 4 numerals, which have become an identifying feature of Anonimo watches. The Anonimo Militare Bronze is offered with a thick military-green leather strap that perfectly complements the colour of the case. This limited edition is available in two colours: military green and dark brown. I prefer the former, because the colours match better with the bronze once it has taken on its patina.

Nostalgia: the Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze

Militare 20th anniversary chronograph in bronze with military dark brown dial © Anonimo

Buy this watch?

What does the devil’s advocate think?

The name Anonimo provokes my nostalgia.

My long relationship with this brand allows me to be surprised by some choices, which is why I'm perplexed by the engraving on the case back.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Anonimo should have paid tribute to Florence, its city of origin, rather than use the Matterhorn to sell its “Swissness”. Anonimo is a brand whose roots are in Italy and it should respect its past. An engraving of the Tuscan capital or even the former Anonimo building would have given the watch a completely different appeal.

The Militare could also have taken some inspiration from other historical models from the brand, like the Dino Zei Nemo (with vertical counters), the Polluce (by leaving the pushers in steel) or its partnership with the Cooperativa Nazionale Sommozzatori - CNS (the Italian Comex).

It’s also a shame that the buckle is in steel rather than bronze. Even if it has a PVD coating in the same colour as the case, a genuine bronze buckle – like the ones used by Ennebi (another brand from Florence) would have been more appropriate.

The Anonimo Militare in Florentine style

Nothing works better with Anonimo than a touch of Florentine style.

Shoes can only be by Stefano Bemer or Roberto Ugolini. From Stefano Bemer I would choose the bow loafers from the ready to wear collection. In the case of Roberto Ugolini, my dream would be a pair of Ghillie. Whatever your choice, you would have to wear them with Shibumi socks.

For the clothes, there are plenty of options from Gucci, Prada or Cavalli.

But I prefer the more discreet style of Andrea Neri, whose blue suit with white tennis stripes I love. Its destructured style goes perfectly with any type of white shirt, for example a bespoke one from Simone Abbarchi, and a lightweight cashmere pullover from Dalmo. To protect you from the sun, what could be better than a Panama hat by Grevi?

Now you’re ready to discover Tuscany and its watchmaking history!

The brand

Born in Italy, crafted in Switzerland. The history of Anonimo watches is unmistakably linked to the pioneering exploits of Italy’s naval divers and alpini militare.

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