Watches, cars, boats: The world and passions of Guglielmo Miani14 September 2021
«A watch is not status but feeling. It is something that excites me, otherwise I will not buy it». So speaks Guglielmo Miani, President and CEO of Larusmiani, the historic brand of Italian men’s fashion. A man, an industrialist, who shares his heart between Milan and the Costa Smeralda and whose life is made up of a company but also of passions: for watches, of course, but also for cars, boats and for his city. A point in common with Watch Insanity: «Milan is the ideal platform for activities related to creativity and culture. It is a city of doing things, with a culture that makes it unique and special and that in hundreds of years has seen a succession of companies for this very reason: for its strong Italian cultural base, combined with the desire to do which can be found there».
We’ll shortly talk about watches, but let’s start from your other great loves. Cars, for example.
My main passion has always been for engines. With the experience and knowledge gained over the years, it has evolved and led me to look for and love a certain type of cars, especially hand-made ones like the Bentley Continental of the 90s or some Porsche: thanks to the work of the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur department, they are in my opinion a perfect combination of engineering perfection and craftsmanship.
What’s in your garage?
Just to name few, I mention an Alfa Romeo SZ handmade by Zagato at the end of the 1980s, a car I am proud of because it is all handmade in Milan. Then I mostly have Bentleys and Porsches, but also a Ferrari 355 with manual transmission from 1994, perhaps the last old-style Ferrari with very little electronics. The Bentley collection is now gone, as I continue to search for cars that are not easy to find thanks to the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur program. For me, in a car, the combination of colors is essential. I’m fond of color, I never wear black because I can’t stand it. I worked for about 15 years in the fabric division of Larusmiani and for me it has always been a fundamental point of attraction, then shifted to cars.
What about boats and motorbikes?
Everything that has an engine basically fascinates me. I gave up on motorcycles because they are as wonderful as they are dangerous; I have one in my house, which belonged to my father and which I restored a few years ago, a Honda 750 Four. It was the bike with which in the 70s he and my mother rode around Sardinia and Corsica. As for boats, I live on the Costa Smeralda and have been on a sailing boat for years, renting one in August without ever going ashore, in the harbor. Me, friends and the sea: this was the holiday for me. Regarding motor boats, I would like to thank Renato Della Valle, the entrepreneur who made me fall in love with them. He created the myth of the Monte Carlo Offshorer, designed by Carlo Riva and turned into the Aquarama of the 1980s by Della Valle. I bought one of these boats three years ago and restored it. Together with Giorgio Colombi I have founded a small shipyard (@the_restorer_) that only deals with relaunching this wonderful project by Carlo Riva.
Finally… the watch. What is it for you? Do you match it to the look or do you let yourself be guided by the feeling?
It is the only jewel a man can wear. Like the car, it is an engineering masterpiece and it often has an interesting design: it is the sum of many things that made me passionate about him. I love to use it depending on the time of day or the time of year, depending on the color or material that fits with what I’m wearing.
Design, technique or a mix of both: what drives your purchase?
Absolutely the mix. Everything must be perfect, a bit like in a car. The watch must be a perfect mix of engineering, innovation, design, aesthetics, colors … and then of how it fits on the wrist.
Sporty or stylish? Chronograph or three hands?
I always look for simple and minimal watches, even if I own a Rolex Submariner Serti dial with diamonds, but they are not even seen. It’s a matter of balance, a sporty-elegant one is more wearable. In the summer, I’m always at the beach, so I only wear sporty watches, even though I love a watch like Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo. In addition to these two I have several, including an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore carbon Alinghi that I love because is very practical for the life I live here. If 10 years ago I changed my watch almost every day, now I only keep a few that I use all year and which the following year I change with another set.
Are there any novelties you find interesting?
I think that the Aquanaut with a green dial and the Octo Finissimo in satin rose gold are very beautiful.
The watch you don’t have and what would you like?
I saw a perpetual calendar by Audemars Piguet about ten years ago that I liked very much: unfortunately, I didn’t buy it when it came out and I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it anymore.
A few years ago, you also had a vintage watches corner in your boutique.
Yes, it was a collaboration with Davide Parmegiani who made his collection of vintage pieces available: he has always had superlative timepieces. Then the collaboration stopped when he was based in Lugano: if I can’t have the best, as he is, I prefer not to have it.
Do you know the independent brands? Are you interested?
They make interesting watches, but they seem too complex for my taste. Sure, there are exceptions, but maybe I’m not as well into this world as I am in the one of cars to understand what is really valuable and what is not. I’m not that experienced yet, but I’d like to learn more.
Do you buy watches to commemorate special moments or impulsively?
Both. If I’ve never bought a car to remember a moment, I’ve done it several times with watches. When my son was born in 2004, I bought a Rolex GMT Master in solid gold and one in steel in New Yorh; I’m keeping it aside for him and I will give him next year when he turns 18. He does not know it. I also bought a black Nautilus made by Bamford in a special moment in my working life, which reminds me of my personal success. But, for example, I bought the Octo Finissimo just because it is beautiful.
Nobody buys a watch anymore to read the time but only for passion and aesthetics. But in the end, it always marks time: what is time for you?
It is the only thing that cannot be stopped, the greatest luxury we can afford. Over the years I have learned to use it in the way that I think is the smartest. For example, I chose to stay in my house in Sardinia because the time I spent here, even alone, gave me wonderful moments. These are things you understand when you grow up, when you turn 35-40: you should only take the best of your time. I have no regrets, I have never had any and I think I will never have any because I always make a choice rather than not make it; maybe I’ll fail, but I learn something. And our children who remind us of the passing of time are also the most beautiful thing we can have beyond cars, watches and everything in between.
By Davide Passoni