giuliano mazzuoli - Giuliano mazzuoli : Cemento
giuliano mazzuoli - Giuliano mazzuoli : Cemento

Giuliano mazzuoli : Cemento

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Many call him architect, and he responds “I do not have a degree, and please do not put a title in front of my name.” This is Giuliano Mazzuoli who for seventy years has lived in the hills around Florence. Those who know what he does and his story will be anxious to know what is cooking in the pot this time. Those who don’t know him will want to know better what is inside the “pots” that came before. He says that he discovered design when he was older and he says that there is nothing really left to design these days and that design is actually a reproduction of something that nature already made. You can’t look for it. It “drapes” itself with simplicity and if you know how to recognize it, it will find you. 

He designed his “Moka” pen during an English lesson. The success of this writing object stimulated him to design a watch, but he wasn’t able to since he risked doing that which he didn’t want to do, and that was copy. Here therefore abandoned the idea. 

It was at that point that he discovered that you shouldn’t look for design. Inspiration found him. His eyes fell on a pressure gauge of an old air compressor, an instrument that reflected simplicity, designed for its function and not for its aesthetic, that measured air pressure. Twenty-four hours later he was wearing a non-functioning prototype that was faithful to the instrument that measured air and water pressure and transformed into an instrument that measured time calling it “Manometro.” “Manometro” in Italian means pressure gauge. 

This situation ignited the mechanism that brought him to the world of watchmaking. Subsequently, he was stimulated by memories of the past around the world of engines and automobile racing and he designed “Contagiri,” inspired by the instrument that counts the revolutions of the engine. To remain in the world of sports cars he designed “Trasmissione Meccanica,” and this time that which transmits energy from the motor to the wheels of the car was reproduced in the case and the dial of the watch. 

Giuliano loves “living” his city and his city gave him an incredible “renaissance energy” when he made his next watch. Yes! With Michelangelo’s marble and with great craftsmanship he coated a case with the DNA of Manometro proposing a line that could only be called “Carrara.” 

Today there is something new, but it’s not a new watch. The design of the “carrure” and the dial are the same as the one that is made of marble. The objective was not just to search for another material for the case but to find materials that together with its color would give distinctive and attractive chromatic effects that up until now were never seen in a watch case. 

Giuliano, still smiling, says, “It was a stroke of luck! The creativity with which I humbly try to maintain a good rapport with was right in my house. Maintenance was being done in my garden and I stopped to watch the workers who were preparing some cement. I thought of that mixture to build a new case and the subsequent phase was to maintain the gray/green color that attracted me so much but that normally is lost when the material dries and matures. A careful polishing and finishing process gave the surface an incredible and pleasant touch.” Mazzuoli affirms “I am very happy with the result, and even this watch is a pure breed.” He says “the final result excites me more than the original idea.” This is how Mazzuoli concludes his brief comment on his latest watch, “Cemento.”

Technical specifications

Technical Characteristics: 

Case: 45 mm diameter; 13.5 mm height 

Cylindrical case made in Italy of cement 

Movement: Swiss Made; self-winding automatic movement; ETA 2824/2 movement with Incabloc anti-shock system; 25 jewel movement at 28,800 beats per hour, and a 40 hour power reserve 

Dial: Ceramic dial in black matte with raised three-dimensional metallic rectangular cuboid minute indexes and “cemento” logo 

Crown: Screw-in crown positioned at 3 o’clock with black “o” ring 

Functions: hours, minutes, and seconds 

Crystal: Convex sapphire crystal; anti-reflective 

Strap: Strap made of calf-skin leather in Tuscany 

Buckle: Deployant steel buckle with logo 

Water Resistance: 5 atmospheres (50 meters)

Who's who

Nothing predestined Giuliano Mazzuoli to make watches. And nothing forced Laurent Picciotto to take them, still less to become their official retailer. But in the parallel universe of watchmaking, that means they were made for one another. That’s how impulses work: they are unreasonable, unpredictable and inevitable. The spark occurred in 2004. Giuliano Mazzuoli had designed and produced the first prototypes of the Manometro, a 45 mm timepiece almost 15 mm thick.
It reproduces the shape and spirit of the manometer it is based on: easy-to-read Hours, Minutes and Seconds, a cream-coloured background, a steel case and a crown at 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock – depending on whether it’s a right or left-handed model. “This may be a detail, but it’s one of the things that drew me to it,” emphasises Laurent Picciotto. Details like this embody the fact that everything in a Giuliano Mazzuoli is thought through and styled to make its owner believe that it is amazingly simple – despite each detail being the result of extremely minute design work. Design is probably how Giuliano Mazzuoli managed to escape his father’s printing works.
This booming business on a hillside in his native Tuscany was a daily chore for the young Giuliano, but a burden he had to bear to provide for his family. “In fact, I hated studying. My father had found me a place in a haberdasher’s belonging to one of his friends, telling him to make my life as hard as possible,” recalls Giuliano Mazzuoli. “I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but when my father died suddenly I had no other choice than to take over the printing works, whether I liked it or not.” It was there, however, that Giuliano Mazzuoli’s brushstrokes began to assert themselves. He began to customise various items such as typefaces, bindings and diaries. His two sons came to work with him, giving him more creative distance. He designed two lines of pens. One day, when his doctor was taking his blood pressure, he was intrigued by the design of the old manometer.
“I was really drawn by its simplicity – and the most difficult thing to design is simplicity,” he explains today. Giuliano Mazzuoli undertook to transform the simple, functional design of this manometer into a watch using an ETA base. The Manometro was born. Laurent Picciotto was one of the first to discover it, and the piece really caught his attention. “It’s a very attractive design, the watchmaking work of someone who isn’t a watchmaker. It’s a simple, minimalist approach that has resulted in an extraordinary timepiece. Basically it’s a curiosity for us, in the literal sense of the word, and a great deal of care has gone into it.” A second timepiece, the Contagiri, appeared a few years later. The design is by Giuliano Mazzuoli, the movement by Giulio Papi. This more mature piece is a real watchmaking masterwork. As such it contrasts with the singularity of the Manometro – still the most original creation of an equally singular individual.
Journalist ; Olivier Müller
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