Florence, Italy-based Visconti is mostly known for their writing instruments but has increasingly been getting into watches. Not just any watches, but decidedly avant-garde and often “weird” watches. That is just how they like it. With labels such as “Made In Florence” on the dial and sporting extremely unorthodox designs, Visconti isn’t at all trying to appeal to the masses but rather those who understand the uniquely Italian art form that is making a modern luxury watch with “character.” Today, I’d like to review the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise Bronze watch, which is a prime example of what to expect from the company today.

I’ll first say that, while Visconti watches aren’t cheap, they are much less expensive than if the company were purely Swiss given the level of detailing and unique parts used in the watch. For the same roughly $5,000 price this reference W110-01-143-1411 Visconti W110 Grand Cruise Bronze offers a lot more than many Swiss watches that come at the same cost.

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We first covered modern Visconti watches in 2014 with my hands-on look at the Visconti Abyssus Scuba 3000m Dive watch here. You can see that the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise Bronze continues the hyper-masculine almost steampunk-looking case shape of the mega-diver, but here with a water resistance of “only” 200 meters. Visconti produces the Grand Cruise in a few versions with varying amounts of aluminum-bronze alloy case material. This version has an all-bronze case save for the caseback, while other models in the collection mix stainless steel and bronze case parts or have an all-steel case.

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Moreover, there is an available steel or bronze bracelet in addition to the excellent strap options. If you click on the above link to the Abyssus Scuba hands-on article, you’ll get a look at what the bracelets are like. In fact, I believe this is the only bronze metal bracelet I know of on the market right now. Typically, watches with bronze parts don’t use the oxidizing metal where your skin touches the watch because of the propensity of the metal to leave a green-colored residue on your skin. I asked Visconti about this and whether it was a concern. They replied that the bronze they use is somehow specially treated in order to avoid leaving any colors on one’s skin – which is especially relevant with the bracelet version.

The luxury watch market is arguably more crowded than it ought to be, so when new watches come around, they benefit from being different and offering something new. Visconti seems to be well aware of this, and the mentality behind their design seems to be “we have no existing customer base to satisfy, and we can do whatever we want.” It is actually fun to see a large selection of totally “out there” watches that relish design experimentation rather than being concerned over strict design conservatism.

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For what the Grand Cruise and other Visconti watches lack in some comfort and ergonomic areas (this is a large watch with a massive crown, after all) they make up for in novelty and confidence. Watch collectors that truly want an uncompromisingly unique watch without a massive (relatively speaking) price tag should check these out – especially if your personal style is somewhere between ship and starship captain.

The Visconti W110 Grand Cruise case in bronze is 45mm wide (54.4mm wide including the crown) and 14.9mm thick. The lug-to-lug length is 57.9mm, which means you need moderately large wrists to truly pull off this design. While I can personally wear the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise, it certainly does look a bit large on my wrist – then again, some people like that in a watch like this. There is a certain appeal to wearing an item that looks like a video game wrist-instrument.

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The tall skeletonized lugs on the case are becoming a sort of trademark Visconti design element and are inspired by the look of a bridge (as in the architectural structure kind that cars pass over). The cases themselves are in fact produced by Visconti – as is much of the watch save for the movements (which are Swiss). Detailing is good, and while some of the design choices are odd, the overall quality is certainly there. Perhaps the oddest part of the case is the large screw-down crown structure which is meant to look like some type of diving-world valve. The crown is in steel versus bronze and has a blue-colored inner barrel.

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Visconti uses a screwed-in, fixed bezel with navigational markers on it. It is a cool bezel but the asymmetrically oriented screws used to hold it down will be distracting to those more OCD-inclined watch collectors out there. Given the other asymmetric elements of the watch, it isn’t really a problem for all tastes, but those going into this type of timepiece need to understand that the Visconti W110 Grande Cruise, like many modern Italian-designed watches, intentionally inserts a degree of design controversy such as this to make the items more interesting. Our James Stacey actually taught me the name for this, which is “sprezzatura,” and it more or less translates into “studied or intentional carelessness.” This is a hard thing to get away with and arguably the Italians are the best at it (and the Swiss are perhaps the worst at it).

Visconti clearly puts a lot of effort into the dial design which begins with a raised rehaut that has minute markers on it which drops down with a sharply angled flange ring with printed hour markers. The pleasantly deep blue dial is more or less bisected with a lower section that is textured to look like ocean waves. The hour markers are applied and painted with lume, and the dial also has applied frames for the big date indicator and the second time zone subdial indicator.

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