|Courtesy of Aonimo|
But I did have one very serious, somewhat dramatic blind spot, and that was Anonimo. Now remember, this was 2003 and Panerai was scalding-hot. Probably every fourth customer who walked through the door wanted one. Also interesting to relate, even though we were Tourneau, we were not allowed to sell them as they were already represented by Shreeve a few blocks away. Now while I did know a bit about Panerai, in all honesty I knew precious little about Anonimo. And at the risk of sounding uncharitable, this was not helped by the people calling the shots at Anonimo at the time. A little inside baseball, the North American distributor lived a 15 minute BART ride away, just across the bay and spotting him at our store was about as likely as spotting Big Foot. Most of the marketing info. about Anonimo was not well written, and somewhat poorly conceived. And the quality issues and service record of Anonimo both locally and at HQ are probably best not spoken of again.
Out of necessity came motivation. I quickly realized was that no matter how much I wanted to sell Panerai (because that was a guaranteed sale with a juicy commission), I would only be able to sell pre-owned ones. So I spent my down-time digging into whatever I could find on Anonimo. I plowed through as much info as was out there, and I came to a few very clear conclusions. For someone wanting to buy Panerai based on the mystique of a Florentine watch maker? Well they were looking at the wrong brand because frankly, that company did not exist any longer. If you wanted that original (albeit a generation removed) Florentine time keeper, you wanted an Anonimo. I also learned that the first iteration of Anonimo was like that bittersweet relationship you might have had in your younger days - he/she was beautiful, exciting, quirky. The type to borrow your car while you are out of town for the weekend, use it to drive to meet an old flame who just "happened to be in town", get five parking tickets in two and a half days, and manage to roll it into a ditch, pushing it back to your place with an empty gas tank and a dented roof.
But you still kept coming back ; )
So needless to say, this was a somewhat challenging sales pitch. But, I managed to sell quite a few of them, and I kept an eye on them once I moved on from Tourneau. And suffice it say, the ride was bumpy. Anonimo changed hands more than once, and never really seemed to catch on as it might have. There was plenty to recommend it. The Militare had the really cool design with the crown at 12 o'clock. There was also the Kodiak strap. Which, as we're on the topic, should be brought back!
I came into contact with Anonimo again at BaselWorld 2013, where a new ownership team had taken over and a bond had been forged with Dino Zei. There was buzz, excitement, a book launch, and then... money issues. And the brand became an orphan once more.
And then a new owner came in, and again, to be charitable, let's just say it took several years for the novelty of owning a watch brand to wear off, and the realization that they actually had to make something interesting began to set in. Several different models were tried, offered, and discarded.
And that brings us up to a few weeks ago. I had posted about a new Anonimo model and the folks at Anonimo (albeit locally) came back and said something to the effect of - You certainly seem to have an opinion about these watches, but have you ever worn one?
And they had me there, I had not. So it was agreed that I would take one for a test drive, no holds-barred and report back.
So here we go - but first, just a bit more back story -
If I understand correctly, Mr. Zei left the party back in 2015, and I have to be honest, this hurts. I only met him once, and spoke briefly. He was kind, generous and patient. Things you don't always find in abundance in the watch industry. And I guess if my time at Tourneau was the first kiss, meeting Mr. Zei was the second one. From that point on, I wanted to have an Anonimo of his design, but it never quite worked out. For me, and for a lot of folks, it is hard to disengage the Anonimo of today with what preceded it. And in fairness, that is okay. These were watches that, essentially, tried to pick up where Panerai left off before they were spirited north to Switzerland, leaving behind some key personnel, some machines and an opportunity. As mentioned previously, I do not know that the opportunity was ever fully realized. But I also know from the crazy Anonimisti out there (and I mean crazy in the very best possible way), the Anonimo pioneers really started something. And after a week, I can safely say that it now seems that the current stewards of Anonimo not only understand what was started, but are picking up and moving forward in a very positive direction.
Now the days of a Florence based Anonimo are gone. Anonimo is made in Switzerland these days. The model sent to me for review was the Epurato. This particular variation is the Epurato Steel with galvanic blue sunray dial.
The case is of (you guessed it) stainless steel. It measures 42 mm in diameter, and has a transparent/display case back.
You will note the Anonimo logo features as part of a cut-out design on the rotor. The Epurato is rated to a depth of five atmospheres which means it is water resistant, but not designed or meant for excursions to the briny deep.
Speaking of the rotor, it is attached (as you might imagine) to the movement which is the Sellita SW200.
The crown is solid, tactile and smooth in operation. It is not a screw-down crown, meaning that the Epurato relies on gaskets and smart case design to keep things water-tight to five atm. The crown functioned very smoothly in terms of setting and winding. You will also notice the crown guard, subtle, gradually sloping up from the case in an organic shape that truly flatters the design.
But what really speaks to me about the Epurato is more than just the sum of its parts. On the whole, it simply looks smashing. There are design elements from previous Anonimo (and other) watches, but at the same time it is unique, and pleasingly so. The dial is open and legible. The date is actually readable, which as I draw closer to the half-century mark becomes more and more of a priority. And something else - the use of the 08 and 04 markers helps to solidify the new Anonimo design codes. It is consistent with the Militare, and occupies the same space that two oversized markers use with the Nautilo. In other words, there is finally a consistent Anonimo design vocabulary.
And last but not least -
The coin edge bezel. It gives it an undeniable something special.
The strap is secured with a solid and well executed buckle -
All in all, it is a visual treat.
But how did it wear?
Phenomenally well! Part of the secret is that the Epurato offers the necessary "surface space" with a 42 mm case, but it does not sit like a hockey puck on the wrist. Part of this is due to the curved lugs, but part of it is also down to the rational case thickness. This is designed to be an elegant watch, and it is just that.
The watch covered the requisite space on my wrist without being too large, and owing to the aforementioned more modest case thickness, it was a joy to wear.
And how did it perform?
The timekeeping was bang on the whole way through, with a mild deviation only on the first day that I wore it. The face was wonderfully visible and easy to read.
Watches, at least for some of us, are far too often a very hyper-romanticized thing. It is very, very hard for us to apply rational thought and patient logic to some things. And in the past, Anonimo had been one of those things. And as an "alleged" journalist, it would be very hard for me to put into words just why I fell in love with the original Anonimo. It just wasn't rational.
The new Anonimo watches, and in particular the Epurato are very easy to understand not only from an emotional, but practical perspective. Attractive, well made, and highly functional. These are keepers, and it seems finally that Anonimo has refound its voice!
In short? YES! I WANT ONE!
All in all, this was a very real treat and I am indebted to the folks at Anonimo to give me a chance to try one out. This is a special watch, and like the original Anonimos, it is not for that guy or gal who is going to get hung up on either owning a Panerai or owning nothing. This is for the person who knows something special when they see it.
Here are the pertinents, straight from the source -
- 42 mm
- Stainless steel
- Cushion shape
- Water resistant: 5 ATM
- Polished bezel
- Dial: Galvanic blue Sunray dial
- Domed sapphire crystal with anti-glare coating
- Swiss Luminova hands
- Swiss Made
- Sellita SW200
- Automatic winding
- Power reserve 38 hours
- Glass case back with decorated skeleton rotor
- Date at 6 o'clock
- Brown-maroon T.MORO gradient effect calf leather
- Tongue buckle