Some watch companies are driven by the desire to make the best possible movements they can. Others are inspired to bring reliable timepieces to as wide an audience as possible. And a select few transcend either of these categories to make watches so ingrained and simultaneously unique in their Zeitgeist that they become true works of art. Terra Cielo Mare falls into the third genre more than any; making wearable artifacts, suitable only for true horology connoisseurs.
Wearable artifacts, suitable only for true horology connoisseurs.
When the company started in 1999, it chose the name Terra Cielo Mare (Earth, Air, Water) to sum up the three domains they wanted their watches to pay homage to; with each edition marking an event or Italian who had left their mark on the history of Italy by land, air or sea. This Italian identity was then paired with the world-renowned precision of Swiss mechanics and movements to make some of the purest watch designs in the 21st century. From the release of their first watch in 2001 its founder Emilio Fontana guided the company to great success until his unfortunate passing in 2007. In 2012, Luca Fontana (unrelated, but perhaps a sign of good kismet) became its new head, and since then has helped grow the brand through an even higher level of quality control. By pairing an attentive respect for historic research with an assurance that the entire manufacturing process takes place in Switzerland, the watches became regarded as extremely collectible and rare. Each watch is held in a limited circulation and features manual finishes, with some editions as small as 80 or less. As each watch pays tribute to a thoroughly researched historical figure or event, many feature a militaristic aesthetic that demands readability and precision from the craft, whether it be under fire or in a dogfight. This renders each watch unique to its tribute, but also a timeless reminder of all the people and events that have come to shape modern Italy. This passion for history blends well with Terra Cielo Mare’s passion for craft, but it really would be a lesson in futility to try and describe how gorgeous these watches are. The pictures accompanying this article give a better idea, but I fear their beauty is like that of a great painting; a photograph just won’t compare to seeing it in real life. Available through Gessato’s store.