Or that self-assured businessman who passed through our glass doors in Via Garibaldi to purchase an ultra-thin gold timepiece to celebrate the boom in the Sixties? Or even the sophisticated collector leaving our atelier in
Via Gramsci with a grande complication in platinum ticking away loudly, almost as if in unison with his galloping heartbeat? These and an infinite number of other episodes – the ideas, desires and emotions of all those ho know that time is the most precious thing that man can spend!
Once again the creativity of Ferdinando was employed to design the setting, an extraordinary space that was expanded over the following years to its current size. And not only is it the ideal environment to host the many initiatives, events and celebrations covering the world of timepieces, it is also a rare example of architectural inventiveness. For instance, the entrance is set back at the corner with Via Gobetti marked by an enormous oxidised copper-coated column, there are niche-like shop windows that highlight and enhance items on display and then the superb scenic eff ect of the various interior areas, one of which is the outstanding Library of Timepieces containing many rare editions that can be consulted by enthusiasts. But the Via Gramsci premises is not only a world revolving around timepieces where visitors can fi nd the most representative brands and also sophisticated jewellery.
This is where Alfredo Fagnola, one of the few Italian experts to be accredited by the Fondation De La Haute Horlogerie, pursues activities covering much more than business aspects. Over one hundred events associated with the world of timepieces have been organised, from thematic exhibitions held in the city’s most exceptional mansions to celebrate anniversaries and special occasions focusing on a given model, to special pieces commemorating important dates and events or meetings and debates linked to time and art, culture, show business. A commitment to which the book you have in your hands is by no means a point of arrival but rather a stimulating phase in the march towards new ideas and proposals. Evidence of this is the active involvement of Alfredo’s daughter, Diletta, who has participated in and made a signifi cant contribu dettaglio
It continued to be held for ten years at the Turin Exhibition Centre and was the very fi rst fair to see the participation of both individual sellers and famous brands and that was aimed exclusively at the general public.
A scenario offering a kaleidoscope of brands and timepieces ranging from period to the latest models and prototypes, fashion pieces, but also niche items for collectors. Over 150,000 enthusiasts visited the ten editions of Tribute to Timepieces, which also included prestigious auctions held for charity with the participation of leading personalities from the artistic, business nd cultural fields. Today, what remains of this somewhat unique venture are the magnificent catalogues, which are now considered true collectors items by connoisseurs of time.
Then at the end of the 1970s he began his career in the family business and immediately showed he was especially partial to certain prestige watchmaking categories. But also the emerging market for period wristwatch models and, in a more general sense, an all-embracing culture of time, including its interaction with art, sport, fi nance, literature and all the more refi ned and innovative forms of timepiece collecting. And on the wave of this also the Via Garibaldi shop became a stage for Alfredo’s entrepreneurial verve, a setting that his architect brother Ferdinando completely redesigned. An original approach that harmoniously combined Roman archaeological fi nds with a selection of cutting-edge design materials and items from the Eighties.
A welcoming yet at the same time superbly elegant place where stones and ancient architraves form the backdrop for a display area where luxury wristwatch dials and exclusive jewellery fi nd an optimal
setting. This was the period when Alfredo was one of the fi rst to realise the fascination and value of “vintage” timepieces, as a result of which he proposed his personal selection of outstanding models from the most famous brands, pieces that not only represented an investment for the purchaser but also items that embodied stories, emotions and changes in society and fashions.
In this same context there was also a place for the new phenomenon, Swatch, possibly one of the most important examples of mass culture during the latter part of the 1900s, and not only as regards timepieces.
For many people time seemed to fl ash by and Fagnola continued to evolve and refi ne its range of timepieces to keep pace with it.
The shop in Via Garibaldi was restyled according to the architectural canons of the period, with large shop windows, linear, functional structures framed by grey marble, large neon signs, while at the same time the range was expanded to include new brands and products.
And the Via Garibaldi premises was to see several other changes over the following twenty years.
But changes not only concerned the display area: the third generation also entered the scene.
Between watches Ervè never forgot his vocation as an inventor, as evidenced by his drawn out battle with bureaucracy in Italy’s air force administration during World War II concerning his clever “TIME-DELAy SAFETy DEVICE TO CUT A PARACHUTE CANOPy CORD”, a system that would allow the canopy to open even when the primary system failed. But then events precipitated and nothing was done, however, an account of this episode would certainly make a really great short story!
Ervè and Emilia Fagnola at the Milan Trade Fair.
Italy began to rebuild its economic and industrial image after the war in this “magic” setting where every conceivable example of modernity was on show.
A showcase for rogress that was a must for a Fagnola family eager to take on board every new creative and technological development.
And it was on the wave of a collective desire to get started again and rebuild a new country that Ervè and his wife Emilia inaugurated their own second shop in the centre of a still war-damaged Turin at Via Garibaldi, 33, a street they fi rmly believed would soon develop commercially.
In the mid-1950s, just before the economic boom, the Fagnola family centred all its activities on the new premises.
Geremia, with four qualifi ed watchmakers ran the workshop whereas his son concentrated on timepieces, now augmented by the introduction of several jewellery collections. The latter, thanks to the aesthetic taste and talent of Ervè’s sister-in-law, Emilia, whose care and courtesy in dealing with the clientele made her a key fi gure in the company for over sixty years, assisted for much of this time by irreplaceable cousin Anna.
Italy entered the new century full of hope, in a climate celebrating modernity in which many people made efforts to emerge by exploiting their own special skills, skills they wanted to apply in a professional and entrepreneurial manner. 1911 saw a boom of new industrial and commercial ventures in Turin and one of the pioneers encouraged by these signs of progress was Geremia Fagnola, who with his wife Lucia opened a shop selling watches and an adjacent workshop on the corner of Corso Francia and Piazza Bernini.
This was a time when watches were only for a restricted public, objects treasured and passed down to children and grandchildren and only given as gifts to mark very important occasions, such as a graduation or wedding. But Geremia was not only an excellent technician, he also realised that times were changing. Requirements of a busier, more active life – whether at work or during leisure – meant it was more important to know the time, to keep track of minutes and seconds. This was also the period that
saw the beginnings of the future domination of wristwatches over pocket watches.
It was certainly an excellent decision to locate the shop-window in an elegant, upper middle class area of Turin with a display that off ered both traditional and more progressive brands, such as Zenith, Longines and Omega, brands attentive to innovation and the growing refi neme dettaglio