In Focus Watches

Venezianico Combine Venetian History and Modern Watch Design

Venezianico Nereide Avventurina

If I said ‘Italian watch brand’, the first name that came to mind would undoubtedly be Panerai, rather than Venezianico. The grand old watchmaker has been producing their distinctive, oversized military pieces since before World War II, and put Florence on the map when it comes to a very specific breed of timepiece. But where Panerai has moved from Florence to Switzerland, Venezianico is a new Italian watchmaker on the block, and one that call’s a different city home and inspiration: Venice.

From the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, Venice was one of the most important cities in the world. It was a melting pot of global influences, a financial centre and a trade hub – Marco Polo hailed from Venice, among many others. Sure, it’s no longer the shining beacon of wealth it once was, but between its famous canals and gorgeous Renaissance-era neoclassical architecture, it’s still among the most beautiful cities in existence.

Venezianico St Marks Clock Tower

St. Mark’s Clock Tower, Venice

That, of course, makes it ripe inspiration, and honestly, it seems almost strange that Venezianico are the first modern watch brand to really bring this legacy into the world of watchmaking. Venezianico Watches is the brainchild of two brothers, Alessandro and Alberto Morelli, locals to Venice who grew up a stone’s throw from the islands. Suffused in the architecture and history of the city – and studying at university there – the watch loving brothers decided to combine that love with Venice.

“It’s a beautiful city,” explains Alberto, “it’s very rich in terms of art and culture, all crowned by a very powerful symbol: the cross. You can find it at the top of San Marco Square’s clock tower and it’s considered the symbol of time passing in Venice, the perfect emblem for what we wanted to accomplish with our watches.”

Venezianico Design Sketch
Venezianico Design Sketch

If you’ve ever visited the city, you’ll have seen the golden cross yourself, right above the automaton-tolled bell above the famous square. It’s a beautiful piece of Renaissance art in and of itself and something tourists flock from across the world to see. “But we didn’t want our brand to be based on the touristy side of Venice,” Alberto continues. “We didn’t want to explore things everyone already knows. We wanted to bring something new and make people from Italy and across the world fall in love with some more hidden aspects of the city.”

So, that means no gondola-inspired cases, nothing you’ll see on a postcard. For example, Venice as a city was instrumental in creating the first submarines. Leonardo da Vinci was mulling the concept over in the 1500s and Giovanni Alfonso Borelli fleshed out the idea a century and a half later. In terms of ‘modern’ submarines, the Venice shipyards were building them as early as 1913 with the Nautilus and Nereide – the latter of which (for obvious reasons) gives its name to Venezianico’s flagship diver.

Venezianico Nereide Tungsteno 42

Venezianico Nereide Tungsteno 42, €779 (approx. £673) excl. tax

“It’s a very special watch for us. It’s an expression of Venetian innovation, of our city’s place in technology. When designing it we found old drawings of it in libraries and used them for inspiration.”

Aside from its sub-nautical roots, the Nereide also expresses Venezianico’s interest in materials. The bezel, usually aluminium for cost and practicality, or ceramic for hardness is instead made of tungsten. Incredibly heavy and dense, it’s a metal that’s hard to work with but practically unscratchable. It’s an off-kilter option for sure, but one that makes the Nereide stand out from the crowd more than its curvaceous good looks already do.

Venezianico Nereide Avventurina
Venezianico Nereide Avventurina

Venezianico Nereide Avventurina, from €779 (approx. £673) excl. tax

But that’s not the only material the brand plays with and their most popular model has yet another Venetian secret. While it’s ubiquitous these days among dressier pieces with celestial aspirations, aventurine glass was first invented on Murano in the 16th century, the famous glass-blowing island of Venice. It’s use in what is ostensibly a tool watch might seem odd at first until you frame it as the coming together of two very Venetian inventions. It looks phenomenal, too.

Venezianico Redentore Ultrablack 40

Venezianico Redentore Ultrablack 40, from €492 (approx. £428) excl. tax

Outside of material and innovation, Venetian architecture is of course incredibly important to Alberto, and is formative of Venezianico’s time-only watch, the Redentore. If that’s a name you’re not familiar with you, like us, have likely only really hit the main tourist spots in Venice – although you will have seen it as Il Redentore is on its own island and is one of the most iconic sights entering the city from the water.

“It was designed by Andrea Palladio, one of the most popular architects in Venice,” explains Alessandro, “to commemorate the end of the plague. It’s incredibly meaningful for Venetians. In the watch we tried to recall the shape of the dome in the glass and the clean, neoclassical architecture of the basilica, drawing from ancient Greek and Roman architecture.”

Venezianico Bucintoro 42

Venezianico Bucintoro 42, €1,595 (approx. £1,378) excl. tax

The result is a gorgeous, sweeping watch that, while simple in concept, has more personality than most time-only watches this side of a Genta riff. Finally, we have the Bucintoro, which not only links to another watercraft – this time on rather than under – but a major Venetian event, the Historical Regatta. The name comes from the Doge’s galley that opens the event and has become a sight renowned for speed on Venetian waters. “We wanted to do something different with our chronograph so rather than link it to motorsport like most brands, we instead went for this important annual event.”

The result is a clean, elegant chronograph complete with tachymeter that’s only missing a Regatta timer to be a pitch-perfect nautical tribute to the historical race. Still, as Venezianico as a company are still relatively young, there’s always time. Whether that time comes in the form of a neoclassical case, a slice of aventurine glass or an elegant tribute to speed on water, it’s sure to be pure Venetian style. Read ‘em and weep, Florence.

More details at Venezianico.

1 Comment

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  • There is really good artisanal tradition in Venice and Venezianico are not the first ones to bring Venetian heritage to watchmaking.

    Francesco Basile are another great example: a true microbrand and family business. Check them out as some pieces are really stunning

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.