Visconti: bronze for an oversized watch
Take a large size and a prominent screwed crown and add bronze and steel for the case and thick leather for the strap – the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise is a horological story to be lived and told in XXL.
I must admit I was a little hesitant concerning this watch and how it would look on the wrist. Yet, the first thing I noticed was that whilst it is heavy and big, its weight is coherent with its general esthetics and strengthens its robustness. The watch feels comfortable on the wrist thanks to its four screwed lugs and the positioning of its crown at 2 o'clock, which comes off the case about one centimeter without however hindering wrist movements. Yet, its 45-mm x 14.9-mm case makes it impossible to slide it under a shirt cuff. I would rather bring it with me on a boat's deck than for a dinner downtown!
A storm in the North sea
Water resistant to 200 meters, the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise is an undeniable reference to the marine universe.
I am not talking about swimming around multicolored fish along coral reefs in the warm lagoons of the Indian Ocean. No, I mean something rougher and more extreme, like, for example, exploring an offshore oil field in the North Sea during a storm. The watch rather evokes the screwed helmet of a diver than sirens' hair. A few details, such as the wind rose engraved on the bezel, the "N" at 12 o'clock, the "S" at 6 o'clock and the cardinal points displayed in degrees engraved on each of the four lugs, reinforce this impression.
Visconti W110 Grand Cruise Bronze
And yet, the watch is neither a compass nor a diving watch. The leather of the strap, waterproof and closed by a butterfly deployment buckle, is not made for underwater adventures. The bezel looks like it is toothed but it is in fact unidirectional as is the flange on which the minute scale is affixed. It does not measure diving time but features a GMT function at 5 o'clock.
A second time zone
The second time zone is displayed on a dial surrounded by a bronze-colored applique (we wonder if it might be brass) that in turn surrounds the smaller one around the date aperture at 11 o'clock. The whole design is efficient as the two appliques face each other on both sides of the hands' central axis – the small one on top and the large one below, just like two frozen satellites. The oversized "XII" at 12 o'clock, also applique-treated, is coated with an orange luminescent material which contrasts against the blue background of the dial, decorated with wavelets on the lower half. The tips and stems of the skeletonized hands are also coated with luminescent materials; orange for the hours and white for the minutes for the main time indication, and the opposite for the second time zone placed next to a small day/night indicator at 8 o'clock.
The self-winding mechanical movement, visible through the sapphire glass, provides the Visconti W110 Grand Cruise with a 42-hour power reserve. It features quite a few decorations: blued screws, a largely skeletonized oscillating mass decorated with the brand's logo and treated with "côtes de Genève", a sunburst barrel and circular-grained bridges.
The movement is Swiss Made, as can be seen upon closer inspection of the engraved indications on the bridges, but the case back is inscribed with “Made in Italy”. This was deliberate and, in doing so, Visconti claims its Italian roots. The brand started producing writing instruments 25 years ago and only joined the watchmaking industry less than three years ago, but it has always showed its pride for its Florentine origins. Indeed, it is in Florence that the brand has its headquarters; the town where Panerai was created. The brand introduced its first watch collection at Baselworld in 2013 and it returned to the exhibition with a sapphire case, a unique contrast with the bronze-colored model I am wearing today.