When I think of Anonimo, particularly its lineup of bronze-cased watches, I can’t help but be reminded of the old Barbara Mandrell song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” Because Anonimo was doing bronze long before it became the hot new case material in the horological world — before Tudor, before Hublot, before Montblanc, and notably before the brand to which it has been most often held up for comparison, Panerai (the latter, not totally unjustly: Anonimo was established in Panerai’s hometown of Florence in 1997 — after Panerai was acquired by the Vendôme Group and packed up for Switzerland — by a team that included Panerai CEO Dino Zei, and in its early days showcased designs very similar to Panerai’s).
When new owners acquired Anonimo in 2013, the brand opted to pare down its portfolio, which had grown a bit unwieldy, to two major collections, Militare and Nautilo, (recently joined by a third, the thinner, elegant Epurato), retaining some, but not all, of the technical features and aesthetic keystones that defined its early models, as well as adding a few new ones. From the Militare collection comes the limited-edition, camouflage-dialed model that I review here, the Militare Alpini Camouflage Khaki Limited Edition, which provides a great showcase for many Anonimo stylistic hallmarks, old and new — not to mention being a really sharp-looking, undeniably masculine, sport-luxury chronograph.
Anonimo has always been known for large, thick, cushion-shaped cases, and this one is no exception, measuring 43.4 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm thick. All the major parts — including the raised coin-edge stationary bezel, the top-mounted, notched crown, and the pedal-like chronograph pushers with their grooved inserts — are made of a bronze alloy, with the exception of the caseback. Attached to the main casebody by six screws and decorated with a relief engraving of the Matterhorn (the Alpine mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy, thus lending this watch its “Alpini” surname), the back is made of solid, non-allergenic titanium, by now a fairly common choice for bronze watches, as bronze’s tendency to develop a patina — one of the traits that has endeared the material to today’s vintage-obsessed watch fans — would be less endearing were it to be permitted to turn one’s wrist green. (Patina is nice on metal, not so much on skin.)
Also constructed from bronze are the watch’s slightly sloped lugs and the locking crown-protector device that clicks into place above the crown at 12 o’clock. The latter, patented by Anonimo and used on all its Militare models, hearkens back to some of the brand’s earlier watches, particularly those used for diving. It has been designed so that when it has been locked into place, it uses the pressure of the strap to secure the crown and prevent it from being inadvertently moved. The other side of the coin is that this protector needs to be unlocked and moved forward any time one wants to use the crown to wind the movement or re-set the hands, which does prove a bit of a hindrance at times. Even in its open position, the device’s presence makes it a bit difficult to get both thumb and forefinger on the crown, and I found I was better off simply using the surface of my index finger for winding.
The dial, whose dark khaki green tones are enhanced with a camouflage guilloché pattern, features another Anonimo-specific aesthetic hallmark, namely the unconventional placement of big, boxy Arabic hour numerals at 12, 4, and 8 o’clock — an arrangement that the company says is unique in the watch world. Another sign that today’s Anonimo is emphasizing its Swiss-made pedigree at least as much as its Florentine origins is that the brand now touts this triangular design as another visual reference to a mountain peak, as one would find in the Alps (which, to be fair, are in Italy as well as Switzerland). In any case, it does make for a very distinctive and very legible look. The numerals are applied and filled with Super-LumiNova. The intervening hours are marked by thin, applied white indices, while the minute track, also in white, is printed on the steeply angled flange. The triangle motif, which also can be read as a stylized letter “A” for Anonimo, is repeated above the logo below 12 o’clock.
The hands — a slender pentagon for the minutes and a long triangle for the hours — are also filled with luminous substance. The central seconds hand, which counts off the chronograph seconds after a firm press of the top pusher, also uses a white triangle as its counterweight. The two subdials, slightly sunken below the dial’s main level and dotted with white printed numerals and indices, tally 30 elapsed chronograph minutes at 9 o’clock and display the running seconds at 3 o’clock, respectively. An attractive detail that can be seen under a loupe: the waves of the camo pattern are distinguished by alternating guilloché surface treatments, with horizontal, vertical and diagonal line patterns of various line thicknesses. The effect made me want to remove the slightly domed sapphire crystal over the dial and discover what that dial felt like to the touch.
Secured (and obviously, hidden) behind the relief-engraved titanium caseback is an automatic Swiss-made movement, the Sellita SW300, a workhorse caliber that is often used by manufacturers as an alternative to the ubiquitous ETA 2892, which powers the watch’s hours, minutes, central seconds and date. The chronograph capability comes from an added module developed exclusively for Anonimo by the chronograph specialists at Dubois Dépraz, called the Dubois Dépraz 2035M. (Here it should be noted that Anonimo did go the extra mile to create a top-notch chronograph despite not building its own module in-house; commissioning a module from this specialist Swiss firm allowed the company to take more of an active hand in its development when the easier — and perhaps, less expensive — option would have been to simply use the integrated Sellita SW500 chronograph movement, which is a popular stand-in for the ETA Valjoux 7750.) The modular movement offers a 28,800-vph frequency and a 42-hour power reserve.
The big bronze case is strapped to a tough, supple, olive-drab strap, made of calf leather and handcrafted in Italy. This type of no-nonsense strap, with the telltale white contrast stitching, is another longtime feature of Anonimo watches. It closes with a folding clasp, made of steel and finished with a shiny brass-colored treatment to harmonize with the bronze case. The Anonimo “A”/mountain peak triangle emblem completes the ensemble in raised relief on the buckle.
The inner surface of the strap is soft and smooth, making for great comfort on the wrist; the watch is heavy but not overly so, and the edges of the buckle can pinch a bit if you wear it too tight. Overall, the Anonimo Militare Alpini is a timepiece that makes its presence felt and seen in a positive way. It’s not ideal for every occasion — you’d stand out like a sore thumb wearing this watch’s military green and bronze combo with dark formal wear like a tux, for example, even though the camo pattern itself is relatively subtle — but it’s a perfect match for sportier, outdoorsy outfits, especially those in earth tones, khaki, or even, dare we suggest, military-style olive drab. Of course, you could always just throw sartorial caution to the winds and strap this on with a suit and tie anyway; as the soaring popularity of bronze as a luxury-watch case material reminds us, one never knows what might become a trend. One day you may be able to say you were “camo and cuff links” back when it wasn’t cool.
The Anonimo Militare Alpini Camouflage Khaki is limited to 97 pieces (presumably a number chosen to honor the year of the brand’s founding; one additional variation is available, with a brown camouflage dial and walnut brown strap) and priced at 5,250 Swiss francs, or about $5,300.