GMT Italia are the Italian pioneers of independent watchmaking
With an eye for the extraordinary, GMT Great Masters of Time is an iconoclast in Italy’s luxury retail industry — and one that proudly celebrates the talent and ingenuity of independent watchmaking.
The Italian market holds an especially deep significance to the luxury watchmaking industry as we know it today. As they’re always known for their impeccable sense of style, the sophisticated Italians have always been true tastemakers of luxury, and during the ’70s and ’80s, the very concept of a luxury sports watch in stainless steel was popularized right here in Italy — more specifically in Milan, the capital of style and fashion.
Indeed, the Milanese had been the first to embrace the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a watch that was (at that time) far from well-received in all the other markets. The city also played an instrumental role in reviving one of the most important classical icons of today, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso which had fallen by the wayside during the 1940s.
And it’s not known to many, but credit for restoring this elegant timepiece to its former glory goes unequivocally to the Milanese retailer Great Masters of Time (GMT) Italia.
Located within the famed Quadrilatero d’Oro, or Golden Quadrangle, where all the top fashion and luxury houses set up shop, GMT Italia brings a unique perspective to luxury watch retail, occupying a special place in the hearts of watch lovers all over the world. Yes, even though it operates just one point-of-sale here in Milan, the company attracts as global a clientele as all its neighbors in this glamorous shopping haven.
Its sleek, modern and understated interiors espouse the quintessence of Milanese aesthetics, which is always contemporary, artful and timeless. This vibrant spirit continues in the many objects of horological art ensconced in its elegant showcases, passionately curated by three generations of the Corvo family to introduce collectors to the unique timepieces made by some of the most talented independent watchmakers today.
A different approach
Combined with an enduring presence in the luxury watch industry — the company traces its roots to the 1950s when Giorgio Corvo opened a watch distribution company representing several luxury brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre — GMT Italia has now become synonymous with modern high-end independent watchmaking. This perfectly underlines the company’s non-traditional, non-conventional approach to luxury watch retail.
Its first boutique opened its doors 16 years ago not in Milan but Porto Cervo in Sardinia, capital of beautiful Costa Smeralda, where well-heeled Italians make their annual summer pilgrimage for the Mediterranean. In 2010, the store moved to Milan, occupying a grand multi-brand concept located in the historic center of the city, and then in 2021, it shifted to its present address of Via della Spiga 25.
Seeking to introduce the finest selection of avant-garde haute horlogerie to the holidaying crowd, GMT Italia was on the threshold of a bold new future, having relinquished its role as the Italian distributor of major brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and choosing instead to represent young, then-unproven independent watchmakers who are crafting time in new and audacious ways. The burgeoning industry of mechanical luxury horology was far from what it is today, with collectors much less familiar with the works of today’s independent watchmaking greats such as F.P. Journe, MB&F and Urwerk.
So it was a gamble for GMT Italia at that point, but it was one that definitely paid off for the family-owned retailer.
Today, GMT Italia is run by the second and third generations of the Corvo family. Giorgio’s son, Michele, whose decision it was to move away from major brand distribution and toward independent watch retail, is the present chairman of the company.
He is joined by his sons, Mattia Corvo as well as Jacopo Corvo, who oversee and manage the business from end to end, with the help of Stefano Cristofori in the distribution department. Together, the family represents 15 independent watchmaking brands — F.P. Journe, MB&F, Urwerk, H. Moser & Cie., Ressence, Romain Gauthier, Voutilainen, Haldimann, Czapek, Konstantin Chaykin, Hautlence, Trilobe, Bell & Ross, Nomos Glashütte and Louis Erard — with a small but growing portfolio of jewelry maisons such as Messika, Fred, Qeelin and Redline.
In particular, GMT Italia is one of the few retailers in the world that has consistently represented F.P. Journe since day one. Notably, in 2014, the company became the first retailer in Europe to open an Espace Journe within its premises, offering a dedicated space for collectors and enthusiasts to see and explore the complete F.P. Journe collection, from the Classique, LineSport and Élégante collections to special and limited series not normally available at standard retailers.
This is but one of many ways that GMT Italia punches far above its weight, competing head-on with many bigger players in the industry with vast networks of stores and yet are nowhere close to GMT Italia in terms of the excellent relationship it shares with the independent watchmaking greats.
Working this closely with its brand partners means that retailer exclusive models are only par for the course here, and GMT Italia has indeed created a number of limited edition watches specially designed for its own community of watch enthusiasts. Most recently in 2022, the company arrived at a major milestone in its partnership with MB&F, celebrating 30 years of collaboration and friendship between MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser and the entire Corvo family.
As a testament to the deep ties between both entities, when Büsser opened the MB&F M.A.D. Gallery in Dubai in 2015, he enlisted the help of Jacopo Corvo to manage the store. When MB&F first started out, Büsser had also chosen to work with the Corvos for the Italian market.
So what could be more fitting a creation to commemorate these 30 amazing years than the M.A.D. 1?
As such, the M.A.D. 1 “GMT Milano” edition was dedicated to clients and friends of GMT Italia who have supported the store since its inception. Extremely sought after, this timepiece is usually only available to MB&F VIPs, with a limited number allocated only by raffle.
With an automatic movement and a tungsten and titanium triple blade rotating mass spinning heartily around the dial, it forefronts the mechanics of the movement and design of the watch, relegating time-telling to the two cylindrical aluminum disks on the side of its 42mm case.
Unlike other editions of this timepiece, which are dressed in colorful livery, this model exudes a chic, understated vibe that is completely Milanese in spirit. Its gold-plated 4N finishes are a key signature of all GMT Italia special editions, beautifully subtle with just a hint of the rosy copper tone.
Accompanied by a classic Milano green strap, this watch was produced in a 30-piece production run to emphasize the long and trusted partnership between MB&F and GMT Great Masters of Time.
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From the Shop
|Manual winding Sellita caliber AMT5100, with rose gold plating and custom bridge for Furlan Marri; 58-hour power reserve; heated blued steel screws
|Hours, minutes, small seconds and flyback chronograph
|38mm (46mm from lug to lug); stainless steel with olive-shaped pushers for Honey Blue flyback, Taupe flyback and Tasti Tondi pushers for Salmon flyback; water resistant to 50m
|Taupe, blue, or two-tone salmon and black (Revolution edition); double printed text with pulsations scale, polished applied indexes
|Italian leather with quick release system
|270 pieces per reference + 30 collector boxes (including one of each references) in addition.