Italy is an abundant fashion capital, but it's also home to some of the top luxury Italian watch brands such as Gucci, Versace, and Meccaniche. It's safe to say that Italy has a reputation for crafting exceptional watches using improved techniques.
I’ve always been a fan of Italian watches due to their unique craftsmanship, precision, and stunning internal mechanisms. Italy also continues to make some of the thinnest watch designs on the market, one of the main criteria I look for in a modern-day watch.
Italy uses stunning high-tier mechanics that are inspired by Swiss and Japanese designs. The blended watch architecture is what makes Italian luxury watches unique. Below, we’ll provide a breakdown of the best Italian watch brands and their most popular designs according to watch fans.
Sotirios Voulgaris founded Bvlgari in 1884, whose family was known for silversmithing in the Epirus region of Greece. However, the Italian watch brand didn’t gain traction until the 1940s, when they incorporated yellow, gold, and sinuous coils. This was mainly possible by their release of the Serpenti, which had a unique Italian style design that drew from Greek and Roman craftsmanship.
Unlike other brands, Bvlgari was more popular with women due to the company also being a major jewelry producer. Later in the 1950s, their Italian watch brand developed designs that became the brand’s signature, which was a blend of both Swiss movements and Italian designs.
The Bvlgari watches you can find today are generally crafted using gold, stainless steel, ceramic, and titanium. Apart from that, the Italian watches implement state-of-the-art movement technology that livens up the in-house movements. The watch brand is mainly known for crafting some of the thinnest chronograph, tourbillon, and moon phase watches on the market.
Some of the best-known models by Bvlgari Italian watches include:
The U-Boat Watches brand was started in 1942 by Ilvo Fontana, who was responsible for drafting some of the first designs for the brand. However, Fontana did not craft any watches. It was only in the early 2000s that his grandson Italo Fontana revived the designs and founded the U-Boat brand.
Each Italian watch brand has its own unique spin on the classic watch design, U-Boat being one of them. U-Boat features a signature style that uses acid bathing, swiss automatic movement, and carbon fibers to enhance its style. The brand also utilizes stainless steel, titanium, gold, and silver materials as its base.
U-Boat’s designs have changed drastically for each collection it releases. Some boast a simplistic design and utilize calf leather and anti-reflective coating. In contrast, other bold designs are made from black stainless steel and include chronographs. As you can see, there is a wide variety in their styles, which makes them a powerful competitor in the watch crafting game.
Some of the beautiful watches made by U-Boat in the past decade include:
The Versace Italian watch brand was first established in 1978 by Gianni Versace in Milan. Since his formation of the brand, he had complete control to design and sell any type of item in his collection. However, before he could branch out into watches, he was murdered and his sister Donatella Versace took over the business. It was only then that the Versace brand released its watch line.
Unlike other watches, Versace watches gained popularity because the brand was already popular for clothing. When the watch line debuted, many stepped in line to get the newest collection to match their wardrobes. The crowd loved the first line of designs as they were perfectly crafted using high-quality materials such as stainless steel, leather, and titanium.
Versace’s watch line has since changed over the years to become even more irresistible and durable. All Versace watches are made using sapphire crystals. This material is scratch-resistant and helps protect the watch's dial and inner components. Aside from that, a new improvement is that they have water resistance which varies from 30, 50, and 100m.
In terms of design, Versace’s watches tend to be sleeker and more modern. Since the company is mainly a fashion brand, its designs focus mostly on appearances that can match their clothing. All watch collections from Versace generally have different themes, but the most prevalent ones are luxury and modern.
Some of the interesting designs models made by Versace include:
Meccaniche Veloci was founded in 2006 by Italian watch designer Marco Colombo but was later acquired in 2015 by Cesare Cerrito. Cesare was heavy into the Swiss watch industry in Geneva and set out to change the brand by developing in-house mechanical movements. The in-house mechanical movements were there to replace the four independent ETA calibres on previous designs made by Marco Colombo.
The new collection released by Cesare Cerrito immediately gained traction as it has a unique case design. The Meccaniche Veloci Quattrovalvole Tourbillion watch showcases the newer design and represents inspiration from pistons found in internal combustion engines. Other standout features of the first few collections include a perfectly founded case with no lugs, a distinctive dial, and four individual subdials.
Every owner of a Meccaniche Veloci watch gets a watch passport that is signed by Cesare Cerrito. The signature helps represent the authenticity of the design and all of the watch's components. All materials are of Swiss origin, but the design and watch brand are marketed and sold in Italy.
Some of the world-famous models made by Meccaniche Veloci include:
Panerai is one of Italy's top Italian watch brands and was founded by Guido Panerai in 1860 in Florence. The company was later renamed and started off in precision engineering but later dabbled into numerous areas of optics and watches thanks to Giovanni Panerai. Since the brand Panerai has an area of expertise working to provide equipment for the Royal Italian Navy, many of the Panerai watches were built to be combat-grade.
Panerai focused on designing dive watches in 1993 and later more than 1,000 pieces of the collections were made available for commercial purchase. From there, later Officine Panerai collections included chronographs, oversized casing, and a rotating diver bezel. Materials used are also generally made from titanium, as this material is both highly durable, scratch-resistant, and have a water resistance up to 1,000m.
Modern-day Italian brands models have been heavily developed and include in-house movements. The new calibre of watches includes manual winding, a high power reserve of eight days, multiple timezones, chronograph movements, and a new GMT function with a power reserve indicator. The most recent collections include self-winding, three days of power reserve, and a power reserve indicator.
Some of the world-famous models made by the Italian watchmaker include:
We all know the Gucci fashion brands and understand that they offer a wide range of products. However, they also have their own Gucci watch market. The Gucci fashion industry was first established in 1921 by Guccio Gucci as a small shop that sold fashion and leather products. The watch collection wasn’t released until 1997 when Gucci acquired Severin Montres, a watch manufacturer with an official supplier.
Gucci Timepieces is their brand and includes a large selection of watches varying in design and style. Gucci is often one of the more affordable luxury brands with exceptional timepieces if you're looking for a stylish watch.
However, because the watches are more affordable, the quality of the material isn't as durable. It won't last compared to other brands. However, they still make an excellent first-time luxury watch.
Gucci watches often use gold and stainless steel versus titanium and other stronger materials. Their watches also feature Swiss quartz movements and they are often very reliable when it comes to telling the time. However, one of the biggest downsides is that Gucci often has many fakes on the market compared to other brands.
Some of Gucci’s most well-known Italian brand watches include:
Anonimo was founded in 1997 by Federico Massacesi in Florence Italy. Anonimo was built by attaining some watchmakers from Panerai as they moved to Switzerland. The objective of Anonimo was to focus on the quality and craftsmanship of the watches and less on the brand.
The brand had many successful collections, but in 2013 they downsized. You can still find many of their older collections, as they are priceless pieces that are no longer being crafted. Their newer three collections still are available on the website and consist of sturdy handcrafted watches.
All of the Anonimo watches use self-winding mechanical movements and are crafted to be highly durable. The main reason for this is that the brand focuses on designing watches for military use or deep-sea diving. Hence, they use stainless steel, have water resistance up to 200m, and anti-reflective sapphire coatings.
Some of their noteworthy Italian watches include:
Breil was founded in 1939 in Milan by Innocente Binda and has since then been owned by the Binda group. The brand is known to have a long history in the watchmaking industry but blends its movements by incorporating other countries' inventions. They are mainly known to sell Japanese quartz movement watches, which are affordable compared to other luxury brands.
However, just because Breil is more affordable doesn't mean that they skimp out on the quality of materials. The good thing about Breil is that they are extremely durable and are well worth the investment. They have trained professional watchmakers who come from a rich heritage of crafting. Their company sends their crafters to watchmaking school to ensure the highest quality for their new watch.
Most of the watches, both men's and women’s, are made using polished steel and include semi-rigid bracelet embellishments. Aside from that, many of their watches are water-resistant up to 30m and have a highly durable outer casing.
Some of Breil’s most known watches include the following:
Italy isn’t known for making watches but rather for designing them. While they do have some pieces that were crafted explicitly in the country, they no longer use materials from Italy. Instead, most Italian watches partner with Switzerland or other countries and use Swiss movements. So, most Italian watch companies focus on design and not production.
D1 Milano is an Italian watch manufacturer launched in 2013 by Dario Spallone. The brand’s primary goal is to engineer the finest watches using high-quality materials, chromatism, and finishing. D1’s watch designs focus on a 70’s theme but have a modern twist.
Panerai is one of the most expensive and well-known Italian watch brands out there. However, in Italy, many people tend to cherish their collections due to how old the company is. Major celebrities have recognized the company such as Sylvester Stalone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Cruise.