Sunday, April 8, 2012

Anonimo Cronoscopio Mark II Special Edition

Like any idiot that has too many toys, I often neglect some of my material possessions whether it be a fly rod or reel, gun, or in this case a watch.  This Anonimo has been left seating on the benches for years now.  I almost forgot I even owned it.  I have since rectified that and have been wearing it almost daily and on all my fishing outing in the past month. 

This is big watch which is much the fashion these days.  It is a 44mm case and if it looks like a Panerai well it should.  There are some historical influences which I will discuss in a minute.  Anonimo is a Italian dive watch with long tradition of Florentine watchmaking.

Panerai in recent years has exploded in popularity largely from celebrities like Sly Stallone, Jason Statham seen wearing them.  This popularity lead a holding company of luxury goods (I forget which one and I'm too lazy to look it up) to buy the brand but the holding company only had interest in owning the name not skills of the Italian workforce.  The company moved Panerai out of Italy and into Switzerland leaving hundreds of Italian watchmakers out of work.  The Swiss Panerais are excellent watches but they fail to capture what made Panerai, Panerai. 
As Panerai left Florence, proud Italians refusing to see their tradition and art die created Anonimo.  Using the abandoned talent and equipment, today's Anonimo is much more in line with the old school Panerai than the modern day Panerai could ever be.  Today's Panerais are Panerais in name only.  They carry very few traits that made Panerais famous.   For what I can see the only thing they kept other than the large face is the crown seal that they use on the Luminor models.  I will say today's Panerai movements are much better than their predecessors and of that of Anonimo.  Panerais were orginally worn by the Italian Navy Divers and were also commission by other Navys across the globe.  These dive watches were made with leather straps.  Yes a diving watch with leather bands.  Waterproof leather bands.  Current Panerais with leather straps can not be swam with as they do not possess the waterproof leather straps.  A diving watch that you can not dive with, makes a lot of sense doesn't it?  Anonimos on the other hand, like the original military watch, can be dove with on as it uses the Kodiak process that waterproofs the leather and can be used in fresh or salt water.
My Anonimo is a Cronoscopio Mark II Special Edition limited to 50 pieces.  Mine is 12/50.  The watch is has a day date function and is a chronograph.  As a limited edition, it has a different face than the regular edition and that's about the only difference to my knowledge.   With a clear case back you can see the movement which is modified Valijoux 7750.  The bezel and back cover are screw locked similar to those early day Panerais.
Much is said about Anonimos cases and the Italians are proud to flaunt them.  Panerai actual started out as a company that specialized in fine mechanisms such as mechanical depth gauges, compasses and torpedo detonators for the navy.  They were tapped into making a dive watch when all other Swiss watches at the time did not meet the testing requirements.  Panerai encased a Rolex caliber in a modified depth meter and delivered it to the Admiralty.  Ten were promptly ordered and the rest is history.  The stainless steel case on my watch is satinated AISI316 Plus and is sand blasted while the bezel and back cover are polished. 

I recently started looking at Anonimos online and am shocked at what they are currently going for, I'm sure that is partially due to a weak dollar.  I believe there is small but growing fans of Anonimo, I do not believe it will ever reach the status of what Panerai currently holds but I believe these watches are worth a look.   They are less about status and more about having a connection with the past.  I personally like that fact.

There is some information regarding how Panerai came about and some pctures of early Panerai models in the book 1001 Wristwatches.

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