Vincent Calabrese

‘ First learn the rules then break them. '

As with elegance, so with watch-making: it’s important to learn the rules so that you can later jettison them.

Vincent Calabrese is the perfect embodiment of this maxim. Out of necessity he was already repairing watches in the streets of Naples at the age of 14. He sensed even then that his life would be dedicated to the sole man-made object capable of measuring, for each and every one of us, the shortness of our sojourn on this earth.

If his motor is philosophical, his fuel is mechanical. Thus, it’s no accident if he is recognized world-wide as a “philosopher engineer”. To try to sum up his work in a few words would be senseless and a waste of time. The general public knows him for his creation of that most iconic of mechanisms—Corum’s Golden Bridge—or for his extraordinary flying tourbillon or even for his Spatial Watches which combine utility, virtuosity and poetry. Recently his peers were astonished once more by the mastery he displayed in the most prestigious of Blancpain productions.

Calabrese has always been an innovator, taking a leaf from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For example, he remains even today the only man who has created a hand-crafted watch movement in Platinum 950.

But in trying to define the man, you feel how easily he always escapes our grasp. His followers, his admirers, often ask him what he considers to be his greatest success. His instant reply is the same smile seen in this photo.

Is he thinking of the extraordinary difficulties that have punctuated his career path? Or of the playful element that always produces more than the obvious in his creations? Or how the Bonniksen carrousel has been granted its proper place in the history books? Or of the founding in 1985 of the prestigious Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, among whose members are the greatest names in modern horology ?


Or perhaps he’s simply thinking about the next surprise he has in store for us ?

Right you are, Vincent.