I guess it’s a trend now but I’ll begin this article with a confession too: I am, unfortunately, not Italian. At all. However, even having visited a number of places in this beautiful country I still struggled with picturing the target audience for the Cavenago Tricolore II 1000M diver’s watch… Or at least I did until the very first time I put it on and I suddenly understood. This Italian brand, run by an Italian family for the 3rd generation – apparently – actually is designing and making watches specifically for its Italiano compatriots. I mean, I put this watch on for the first time and I didn’t feel like a Navy SEAL diver or a racing driver at the 24 hours of Daytona, but I did definitely feel like I was ready to jump into my Abarth 595C, put the roof back and buzz down to the Ducati factory and start slapping some bikes together. After a cigarette break, a coffee break, some heated debate about last night’s football match and other sacred rituals. I’m not making this up, for some reason, a warm Italian dawn (about 9AM by Italian time) and working at the Ducati factory sprung into my mind when I put this watch on. That’s a first for me, that’s for sure.
Its Italianness doesn’t stop there. The Cavenago Tricolore II 1000M is preposterously heavy, a solid 75% of its dive watch functionality (that of the bezel) was sacrificed on the shrine of pure aesthetics, it is absurdly overpowered with a water resistance rating of 1,000m… Oh, and it has the tricolore stripes on the dial. If it didn’t, this aforementioned Italian approach to weight, functionality and overall impression would still apply – it would just be more challenging for dummies like me to identify it.
Producing a total of 899 watches per year and operating with limited editions, I am prepared to say that the Cavenago brand and its limited-to-100-pieces Tricolore II 1000M is another curiosity of the watch world, precisely tailored to suit the flamboyant – and in fact huge – Italian market of watches. In case you didn’t know, watches in Italy are a big, big deal. It’s as natural a companion of everyday life as having a banged up car or an espresso at 11PM. I am yet to be in a part of Italy where waiters at perfectly regular cafés didn’t have vintage Rolexes and where I didn’t see people religiously swapping straps on iconic-looking watches to express their personality. A lot of these are stereotypical generalizations, but I do trust that my Italian friends won’t find offense in any of them in today’s PC world – as there is none intended.
If it wasn’t obvious at this point, I love Italy and would love to live there – somewhere near Milan, preferably within a stone’s throw from Monza. Yeah, that sounds about right. Would I need a 1000-meter water resistance dive watch there, or in fact anywhere else? Technically, no. Practically, yes. To blend in. I mean, with its stupendously large hour and minute hands, proudly sized text and hampered legibility across the periphery of the dial, accompanied by that glorious tricolor stripe, this is would be a more efficient communicator of me being a wanna-be-Italian than pretty much anything else I can think of.
Here’s the deal. Before receiving this watch and judging it from images only, my first impression was that of yet another micro-brand diver that didn’t move me that much at all – and I really didn’t know what to make of it beyond that. Having familiarized myself with the brand and its inherent Italianness and discovered the stereotype-enforcing, deeply likable quirks of the Tricolore II 1000M, I grew to really like this
little massive watch. I really do see a parallel with Italian cars here: this product may not be the absolute best in its class, but that is just a direct consequence of that not being their primary goal. Thankfully, 21st-century manufacturing technologies have come to a point where you can totally live with a product whose sole focus is not on pushing the engineering envelope but is rather on catering to a specific clientèle.
The Cavenago Tricolore II 1000M I’m quite sure is manufactured by an OEM Swiss manufacturer, who assembles the case, dial, and ETA 2824-2 movement – and that’s all good. I’d much rather have someone whose bread and butter is making watches get this done than to see an upstart brand have their go at making a 1,000-meter diver, a dial or a set of hands that, despite their best efforts, will come loose after the first mild shock. Not to mention the making of a movement, a luminescent bezel, molding rubber straps and so on. This practice at this price is all good in my book.