The philosophy that animates these workshops remind us even today of “past times”
and that only the best craftsmen can produce unique and impossible-to-copy watches,
as the high, inimitable quality of its finishing touches.
The Goldsmith and Watchmaking art that flourished in Rome had several extremely fortuitous high points in history.
The Imperial excesses of the 16th and 17th centuries gave great relevance to these activities and commissions and art were essentially ordered by the highest ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and noblesse families.
The production in Rome concentrated mainly on sacred and ritual objects that increased considerably when there were special events such as the Holy Year.
In the past decades, goldsmith’s workshops were mainly located in Via del Pellegrino and in the year 1680 was compulsory for those craftsmen to live and work in the surrounding streets.
Goldsmiths organized themselves into a cooperative and subsequently founded their first University in 1508 where even other craftsmen who worked with metal and precious stone were affiliated; in the Statute of Rome of 1358 their activities were, for the first time, regulated by written guidelines.
Zannetti has continued to extend this tradition operating from his personal watchmaking laboratory in Via di Monte d’ Oro, enclosed in the Campo Marzio area of Rome.
The chronograph is one of the most recent complications, appearing only in the nineteenth century. Indeed, watchmakers had other considerations to contend with first, namely achieving adequate precision and finding a way to stop and start a hand without also stopping the movement (“independent seconds”).
Following unsuccessful attempts by John Arnold, Parisian watchmaker Louis Moinet (1768-1853) imagined a device which measured sixtieths of a second. He named his invention “compteur de tierces”. A “tierce” or “third” is the next sexagesimal subdivision of the hour after the minute and the second, used in astronomy. Moinet built his counter with the help of a watchmaker employed by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1815-1816. On September 1st 1821, Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec (1781-1866), horologist to the king, used a device of his own invention to time a series of horse races run on the Champ de Mars in Paris.
A report by the Académie Royale des Sciences dated October 15th 1821, signed by Antoine-Louis Breguet and Gaspard de Prony, records that Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec presented on that day a “timekeeper or counter of distance covered” which the Academy named a “seconds chronograph”. On March 9th 1822, Rieussec was awarded a five-year patent for his invention. Rieussec’s counter is aptly named, as it deposits a drop of ink on the enamel dial at the beginning and end of each measure.
The return-to-zero function appeared towards the middle of the nineteenth century. Now with its three essential functions of start, stop and return-to-zero, the chronograph came into its own in numerous domains, including science, technology and competition sport. The first wrist-chronographs were worn circa 1915.
Like their pocket counterparts, they had just one button, usually in the crown, for all three functions. The second reset button followed in 1934. 1969 saw the first self-winding chronograph movements. The majority of chronographs use a cam to coordinate the chronograph functions. The more sophisticated use a “column wheel”, a distinguishing feature of superior quality chronographs. Further distinction can be made between “integrated” chronographs and “separate” modules that have been grafted onto the movement.
Single pushpiece (monopoussoir) chronographs are a feat of mechanics, as the same button must successively start, stop and reset the chronograph hand.
The chronograph rides the vanguard of the mechanical watch revival of the late nineteen-eighties and has inspired all manner of technical and aesthetic innovations. Still, only a very few Manufactures make their chronograph movements themselves.