When I have free time, those who know me know that I am often looking for new watches - especially vintage - among markets and shops scattered throughout Italy and beyond.
With this article I want to take you to Swiss soil, more precisely to Lugano, in a historical exercise in the Ticino area: I'm talking about Watch Center. In this shop I have always found, in addition to beautiful watches, the passion and the search for the particular example combined with customer care. Today I want to share this small and important reality with you.
He has been running this shop for more than 40 years Richard Radaelli which is mainly dedicated to the research of increasingly rare but above all particular vintage watches, which only a collector can come to appreciate. Accompanying him every day is his son Filippo which deals with both vintage and modern watchmaking which represents it particularly.
The most significant feature of this shop is certainly the huge variety of choice of watches that can be found: Patek Philippe, Cartier, Longines, Universal Geneve are some of the names of the many maison that are present in the store, some have disappeared over time but have left a significant mark in the history of watchmaking.
It is incredible how there is a unique correlation, to say the least, in joining showcases that display timepieces of noble brands and watches of little-known maisons, but with complications and stories behind them that today many shopkeepers and traders underestimate. These rarities do not represent a real bargain for their wallet, but they highlight another word for those who collect or in this case sell them: Passion.
They can represent for the enthusiast or collector of vintage watches a rare and precious resource and a springboard for even the highest level watches in their collection. An example can be this simple Porsche Design by Orfina : an object with a minimal design with an integrated bracelet and a unique charm at an affordable price for everyone. What about the many chronographs from different eras, with various complications, that can be seen in the shop? The peculiarity is that each watch is unique, with a history and a design of bygone times and a particularly refined elegance. Maison such as Universal Geneve, Record and Minerva are the progenitors.
Now we come to the heart of the boutique, surely Patek Philippe and Rolex are two of the pillars of the boutique but with some small differences compared to the usual one. The first watch that undoubtedly strikes those who will have the pleasure of visiting the store is this Rolex from 1915 in rose gold with its box, a real gem for aficionados.
Unfortunately, displaying all the rare watches in the shop is a titanic undertaking, so personal taste has prevailed over these four masterpieces. The former are undoubtedly two of the most particular chronographs produced by Rolex with the reference 3055, also known as "Piccolino"(Photo below). The version on the right is better known thanks to John Goldberger's book "Time to race", such as Enzo Ferrari's watch, where in more than one shot he is seen wearing this chronograph model.
The others are two triple date Rolexes with moon phases, produced in about a thousand examples in yellow gold, also called "Frying pan" with the reference 8171, of a disarming beauty.
Let's not forget some more “modern” pieces that you could admire from the Watch Center, the icon par excellence: the Daytona. In this field Riccardo and Filippo are particularly experienced and always looking for rare and precious versions. From the Rolex Pre-Daytona full set to the legendary ref. 6241 "Paul Newman", there are all the most beautiful versions of the chronograph par excellence.
Another iconic maison present in this Lugano boutique is the renowned Patek Philippe with some of the most elegant references of the Genevan maison. From Patek "Cinesino" with the reference 1450, to the classic and inimitable chronograph with yellow gold ref. 533. Every single watch has its own perfect balance of elegance and perfection, finding them all together available to anyone who wants to see them is certainly not the most common thing that can be done in the world of vintage watchmaking.
To keep company with these jewels in the shop there is him: the Nautilus. Over time, father and son have managed to complete this collection which includes all the vintage versions of the iconic watch, in this box it can be admired in its most beautiful versions with references 3700 and 3800.
Particular dedication of Philip is also the Royal Oak di Audemars Piguet, who has a real obsession with this watch given the perfection in terms of design that this watch represents. In fact, it can boast a real collection of the rarest versions of this watch designed by Geral Genta almost 50 years ago.
All these watches represent an exceptional combination of rarity and quality, accompanied by the kindness and helpfulness of people who transmit passion for their work to anyone who visits their boutique, which, today, is not a foregone conclusion. This is what Watch Center Lugano represents for me, a unique place of its kind that allows any watch enthusiast to feel at ease, so for those who come for a trip out of town, I recommend visiting this splendid shop and his jewels.