Antoine Preziuso, the free spirit of watchmaking
An independent watchmaker for over 35 years, Antoine Preziuso combines his creativity in the watchmaking field with a rare audacity, doubly rewarded at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2015. In his workshop nestled in the Geneva countryside, he develops precious timepieces that combine the extreme technicality of mechanical complexity and an original aesthetic signature that soars above trends. Surrounded by his family – his wife May, his daughter Laura, and, in particular, his son Florian, who accompanies him daily in a joint creative process – Antoine Preziuso is deemed a free spirit of the watchmaking world. Independent by nature, he freed himself of traditional norms to assert his position as an enfant terrible of contemporary watchmaking design.
“Watchmaking was a toy first, then it became a game, entertainment, and – finally – a real interest”.
Fine watchmaking as child’s play
Antoine Preziuso is a curious watchmaker. Born in 1957 in the Plainpalais neighbourhood of Geneva, Antoine Preziuso grew up in the watchmaking world. At a very young age, he discovers the backstage of the Geneva workshops, where he meets Gérald Genta and Roger Dubuis. Curious by nature, he observes, questions, and is fascinated by this world geared towards the infinitely small. To practice, he salvages components and spare parts thrown away by factories or dial-making workshops. Through meetings and experiences, the art of mechanics seeps in, fed by a taste for architecture and the miniature. This passion will lead him to spend five years at the Ecole d’Horlogerie de Genève, a training he brilliantly completes as first of his class in 1973, as the quartz crisis is about to hit the profession with full force.
Antoine Preziuso is an independent watchmaker. He is assured that the profession is dead. That does not matter to him; he brushes off the pessimism and joins Patek Philippe, where he is in charge of escapement, the cardiology of watches, as well as complex mechanical movements. Firmly committed to his autonomy, he rejects old habits and dreams of new experiences. He continues his adventure at Antiquorum, from 1980 to 1981, as a watchmaker/repairer. At his hands, all watchmaking periods, the most emblematic pieces signed by prestigious brands, mechanical songbirds, high complexities and automatons get a new lease on life. A journey through time from which Antoine Preziuso brings back rare knowledge, the basis of technical and aesthetic creativity for which he begins to be known in the early 1990s.
“I have been totally charmed and fascinated by the complexity of the tourbillon since watchmaking school. This mechanism that defies earthly gravity has an entrancing, dizzying quality”.
The unique taste for difference
Antoine Preziuso is a free creator. In the watchmaking landscape, he has a unique position with a guiding principle that escapes traditional commercial logic. His creations are inspired by a personal taste for the road less travelled. The first watch bearing the signature of Antoine Preziuso appears in 1986. Named Sienna, it is inspired by the clock tower of Sienna in Italy. To adorn it, the watchmaker makes the original choice of cutting a dial out of Carrara marble. A first folly that set the tone for an insatiable and unbridled inventiveness, free of trends. In 1990, Breguet calls upon his expertise to create a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar. In 1993, Harry Winston entrusts him with the execution of a tourbillon, the first piece in a series of collaborations, the most famous of which is the Opus.
Antoine Preziuso is a rebel. Rapidly, his creations bear his distinctive mark and reveal his tastes. He is fascinated by meteorites, which he cuts and shapes to his liking, starting in 1989, as dials and cases. He appreciates shaped cases – especially the barrel shape – and the extravagance of large diameters, the flamboyance of gems and impeccable finishes. He shrinks away from no challenge, explores decorative arts, rethinks classic shapes and reinvents them to his liking. He mainly ventures into the field of watchmaking complexities, with a penchant for the magic of the tourbillon. A magic with a powerful charm that continues to operate, to this day and more than ever, without sparing the rest of the Preziuso family.
“We work as a family, but each one of us is independent. I would say we complement each other, that we work as partners and associates. One thing is certain: we each defend our freedom and own creativity”.
Antoine Preziuso is the head of the family. The passion for watchmaking, the love of uniqueness, of the luxury of good manufacturing that comes only from time and experience are values that Antoine Preziuso claims and shares with his family members. May, his wife, has always been at his side. She is a source of undying support, in all aspects of life, not unlike a watchmaking calibre component; her role could be compared to that of a bridge. Solid and reliable. Or, perhaps better yet, to that of a differential, harmonizing as best as possible the forces and equilibriums within this extraordinary family. Laura, their daughter, expresses her talent by combining jewellery and watchmaking techniques in a mechanical jewellery collection. Florian, their son, has followed Antoine’s path. That of watchmaking and its technical difficulties that haunt you until you solve them.
“I have always been a daydreamer; Florian has a very adventurous side. We have been working together in a close-knit way for years by joining forces. For the Tourbillon des Tourbillons, I started the work and Florian found the solutions to finish it. It’s the logical continuation of the story”.
The father, the son and the Tri-Tourbillon
Antoine and Florian Preziuso are two watchmakers that share a close bond. They work in concert, resonating off of each other. Like his father, Florian Preziuso has a taste for meteorites – which he himself tracks down in African deserts in his spare time. Like Antoine, he is fascinated by the tourbillon. Florian, incidentally, is the one who solved the equation enabling the function of the famous Tourbillon des Tourbillons, which was awarded both the Prix de l’innovation and the Prix du public at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2015. Using a construction and a principle unheard of in the watchmaking world, the three tourbillons resonate with each other like three hearts beating in unison. A work of precision and technical inventiveness, the result of a joint effort and of a human, familial adventure in the long term. Over time, from one generation to the next, the name of Antoine Preziuso has been making its mark for over 35 years in the world of fine watchmaking. It stopped being a mere name long ago. The Antoine Preziuso brand stands for expertise, freedom and creativeness. It is also a beautiful example of sharing and independence.