FrontRunners: Rare Vintage

In the Swiss town of Lugano, near the border of Italy, is Lugano’s Watch Center (+41.91. 922.64.83), a watch collector’s paradise. The outdoor showcase tempts you with a sampling of the shop’s rarities: a boxed 1993 IWC Portuguese from the original batch, four very rare Bulova Accutron Spaceviews, a wrist-worn aviator’s bomb timer, a clutch of Eberhard chronographs, and early Omega Speedmaster Professionals. Everything is in mint condition and fully serviced.

The mastermind behind this assortment of more than 1,000 watches is owner Riccardo Radaelli—mustachioed, fortysomething, Milanese by birth, fluent in English, and possessing a penchant for small chronographs. His clientele is mostly Italian, he says, noting with irony that a passion for vintage watches is not as prevalent among the Swiss.

Radaelli also repairs and restores valuable classics. “I used to have a full-time watchmaker, but I studied what he was doing and trained myself,” he says, as he pulls out tray after tray of unused dials from Jaeger and Audemars, plus tens of thousands of hands, crystals, and winders. One tray holds more than 25 assorted Rolex Submariner dials, never used and rarely relinquished by Radaelli.

Additionally, amid the shop’s eclectic range of boys’ toys, including Märklin model trains and automotive bric-a-brac, is a showcase filled with Leica, Nikon, and Sinar cameras. “In the 1980s, I had three photographic shops in Lugano,” says Radaelli. “A friend asked me to sell a Rolex for him. I put it in the window and it attracted more customers than the cameras.”

The new timepiece has a fluid-based linear timekeeping display…
The new watch has multiple systems to ensure that its movement receives consistent power…
Computer-aided design is allowing watchmakers to push the boundaries of innovation...
The watchmaker puts its skill in guilloche and damaskeening on full display…
The two back-to-back auctions will offer hundreds of unique designs…
The new variation sports a dial crafted from a meteorite...
Photo by Didier Gourdon
The new watch has a tourbillon hidden by an automaton…
The watch’s case is a mere 8.24 mm thick…
Photo by Vincent Wulveryck/Cartier
Jeweler Cartier innovative work combined Roman, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese elements with...
The company’s signature mixture of technical and aesthetic watchmaking is on display in the Bovet...