Lucky Finds: Five WatchesBy Andrea Casalegna
Being a 23-year-old student from Milan with an immeasurable passion for watches, isn’t a bad position to find oneself in. Now, if you’re wondering why, well, the reason is simple. Whenever I meet up with my friend Ross Povey, or even when I post on Instagram, I am most likely to receive such comments as “Wow, that’s amazing, where did you find it?!”. The answer usually is, “around”. I have a huge love for browsing, thrift shopping and looking where others only see junk! Yet that’s where I’ve found most of my watches, many of which have intrigued and fascinated numerous collectors, despite not breaking the bank or them being “the rarest” or so-called “important” pieces.
My name is Andrea Casalegno and I am a young watch collector and journalist with big dreams, small pockets and a lot of passion. For my debut on Revolution magazine, I’m glad to present you five watches I was lucky (and I mean it!) to find around Milan or when travelling, starting with the one that’ll forever have my heart: the Softwatch.
I’m a sucker for odd and surrealist objects, therefore the first watch I would like to share is the Exaequo Softwatch. This is a watch that I found while browsing on my phone, thinking about how much I’d like a Cartier Crash. The Softwatch is now closely associated with me, amongst collectors and on social media, which is something that makes me very proud! In many ways, this watch represents what I love to do — describe and explain the finer details of watches and help people discover pieces that they didn’t imagine existed. The Dali-esque Softwatch first crossed my path almost two years ago, and ever since the first time I had it on my wrist, I knew it was always going to be a special piece to me, so I always make sure to have it in my travel pouch when I’m on the road. Interestingly, the first Softwatch that I ever bought had an ‘anonymous’ dial, which is a characteristic I am really into, as it allows me to judge a watch without any specific reference to a maker.
If the Softwatch was a lucky find from an era when partying and late-night car rides were a habit, there is a watch that accompanied me through another phase of my life: the one of flea markets. Before buying my Tank de Cartier, I was truly convinced that high-end watches were not yet for me (budget wise). So with that in mind and like a true Italian, I browsed all the flea markets near Milan, trying to find the best quality watches for the best price. This one was definitely a lucky find: my Gobbi Milan. Not double-signed, no watch brands — just Gobbi on the dial, the oldest retailer in Milan. This properly oversized “Calatrava” style, chrome-plated watch with a plain clear dial and the almighty “Gobbi” stamp on the dial, jumped into my hands during a summer day at Navigli, the biggest antiques market in Milan, literally when I was thinking, “Oh, I’d really love a double signed.” Moreover, Gobbi closed its doors last summer, which makes this watch even more special to me as it is a relic of a bygone time.
Until you’ve owned a jump hour watch, you’ll never know true watchmaking heaven — trust me! The most difficult part, however, is getting the right one: the “Tank Guichet” is now among the most sought-after watches of the decade. Getting a proper anchor-escapement watch, in pristine condition, is now a gift for the few people armed with infinite patience. I had to wait almost four years to find a truly nice one. Last summer in Geneva, during Geneva Watch Days, I found mine — an anonymous jumping-hour watch — and bought it for less than a Must de Cartier from a funny old Swiss gentleman. This watch has a very special silk strap that makes it my next-level tuxedo watch — a piece everyone notices for its subtleness and charm.
Since I can remember, I have always been a fan of my country’s beaches, but Sardinia has truly captured my heart. Having family there has given me an excuse to visit the island more times than I care to admit and every time I have gone back, I discovered more of its hidden gems. It was during one of these visits, whilst I was browsing windows looking for something interesting, that I spotted a dusty Omega Speedmaster “From the Moon to Mars”, the first limited edition of the watch, waiting just for me. I asked for the price just for fun, but ended up buying what has become one of my favourite watches and for the least possible amount of money ever spent for a Speedmaster!
For the last lucky (barn) find, I’d like to keep it simple, with the actual watches that led to me writing this article. They are two advertising pieces, with completely anonymous cases and movements, branded “Marlboro” and “John Player Special” on the dial, lacquered in the typical colours of the brands. A beautiful couple of Tank-ish pieces that move more towards the world of collectibles than of watchmaking, but that are rich in their back stories and historical testimonies. These two very simple, cheap pieces were also found in the Navigli antiques market in Milan and have allowed me to grab people’s attention and tell them my collecting story. I am really grateful for these finds and for my habit of searching for hidden beauties. In the end, watchmaking, as well as life in general, is — and should always be — all about emotions!