At Couture 2014, I had the interesting opportunity to see the prototypes of the upcoming Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch collection – a timepiece collection that, in my opinion, belongs in a video game fantasy world. The Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m is a timepiece with a lot to discuss. Further, the brand Visconti is another example of a writing instrument maker turned watch maker. The most famous example of this is German Montblanc, who began to produce watches about 15 years ago. Since then, other traditional pen makers have followed suit with products at different ends of the luxury spectrum. Other traditional writing instrument makers such as Cross, St. Dupont, and Montegrappa have also entered the watch business.
Visconti’s strategy in entering the watch business is more like fellow Italian company Montegrappa compared to the others in regard to wishing to produce some wild, avant garde designs versus more classic wrist fare. If Montblanc’s goal is to make its aura of timeless classic luxury and utility, Visconti’s goal is to produce a wild lifestyle item for the man who wants something bold, yet technically still very functional. The Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch collection is just that, at its heart, a very utilitarian diver with a huge sense of crazy personality… and isn’t that what high-end Italian products are all about?
I know for a fact that the Visconti Abyssus watch collection is going to spark a range of polarizing opinions. No, this isn’t a watch I could wear on a daily basis, but I do appreciate it for its steampunk sci-fi virtues and unrelenting dedication to being different. So the question is then, where did a design like this come from and what does it have to do with an Italian pen company? That answer goes back to Anonimo.
The cult-favorite Italian watchmaker Anonimo and Visconti are both based in Florence (Firenze), Italy. Anonimo shut down a few years ago due to the poor economy but was brought back last year (aBlogtoWatch visited the Anonimo manufacture here). Having said that, it isn’t really the “same Anonimo.” Some of the primary men responsible for the production and design of the previous Anonimo watches that people so loved are responsible for Visconti’s new watch collection. So in a very real way, it is not inaccurate to say that Visconti is continuing the legacy of Anonimo and picking up where they left off.
The Anonimo talent connection is sort of a big deal as far as we are concerned in regard to the provenance and legitimacy of the design and focus on the Visconti brand. Especially insofar as their watch making ambitions are concerned. Those familiar with Anonimo’s famed bronze cases and design aesthetic will be able to pick it up in the designs of the Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m dive watches.
At launch, the Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch will be available in three versions, featuring a steel, titanium, or (of course) bronze case. Even then, each of the three versions will have at least some titanium and bronze as part of the complex case construction. The case is 45mm wide (not including the crown) and is 17.5mm thick. Of course, it is water resistant to 3000 meters (300 ATM), and offers a range of dive watch features. That is a pretty serious dive tool right out of the bag for Visconti.
Visconti is serious about the Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch being a legitimate diving watch despite the wild design. They claim to be working with a special team of Italian commercial divers who must regularly dive to 400 meters or so and wear Abyssus watches in the process. Yes, of course most people who end up purchasing a Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch will not be diving with it or taking it that deep, but Visconti is dedicated to completing the entire experience by not simply creating a weird looking high-end fashion diver that looks like an item from the Bioshock video game universe. Is this the ultimate wrist watch for a Big Daddy (character from the Bioshock game world)?
The Abyssus Scuba has a 5mm thick sapphire crystal, and the case has an automatic helium release valve at 6 o’clock on the case. The crown, located at 1 o’clock, is a novel feature and is worth discussing. Visconti feels that it will become a signature feature of its dive watches moving forward. It has a unique locking and un-locking system that works similarly to a child-resistant pill bottle. You need to press it down and to the side to release it. There is likewise a security lock for the rotating diver’s bezel. Located at 4 o’clock on the case is a sliding lever which must be depressed for the bezel to rotate.
The case is very intricate in its design, but also very dedicated to its steampunk style. The mixture of metals and finishes offers an aged industrial look, which is very much enhanced by the skeletonized lugs. Actually, the lugs are inspired by a very old bridge located in Florence. A series of visible screws on the case are functional, and dramatically add to the “tool-like” personality of the watch. The ultimate Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch, of course, is the version in bronze – as the material will patina over time. Visconti says that they use an alloy which is safe for regular contact with the skin, which is good, since the caseback is also bronze (on the bronze-cased model).
Note that these Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watches are all early prototypes. That means finishing is not final, nor are all of the design elements. The caseback, for example, will not remain plain, and further improvements will be made when the Abussus collection is available for sale. Even with the prototypes, the concept is impressive. Is this a classic watch meant to be worn with your favorite suit or shorts on the weekend while hanging out at the yacht club? Not really. I have to emphasize that timepieces of this nature are unabashedly high-end toys which leverage their luxury status as means of offering highly risky designs that would not work well in any mass-produced manner.