Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A 'Detective' in Search of Lost (or Rare) Timepieces

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A 'Detective' in Search of Lost (or Rare) Timepieces

Article excerpt

From his family store in northern Italy, Ennio Barozzii has developed a reputation for finding -- or making -- the right watch for his demanding customers.

Who is the go-to person for an avid watch fan seeking to track down a rare addition to his or her collection, or possibly a uniquely customized timepiece?

One answer: Ennio Barozzi, watch fixer and detective.

From his home base in Brescia, in northern Italy, a watch store that has been in the family since 1959, Mr. Barozzi tracks down vintage watches and hard-to-find timepieces.

He does it with the nonchalance of someone who has spent his life honing the skill of finding the right watch for the specific style of each of his clients.

But there is steel beneath the charm. Like the classic private eyes of American fiction, he comes armed and knows how to shoot. The proof: "I used one of my Beretta guns," he said in an e-mail, "to scare off the burglars" who tried to rob his store in 1999.

Boutique Barozzi carries nearly 30 top watch brands -- an eclectic stock ranging from classics like A. Lange & Sohne and IWC, to cutting edge innovators like De Bethune and Greubel Forsey.

The son of a watch retailer, Mr. Barozzi said in an earlier interview that when he was a baby he played with watches. He loved every aspect of watches, he said, and had a special soft spot for movements that are "rich in complications."

To track down the watches his clients are pursuing, Mr. Barozzi, whose first timepiece was an Ulysse Nardin, haunts the vintage auction sales in Geneva and London. He has sometimes spent years in pursuit of a particular timepiece and often renovates the pieces he buys on behalf of his clientele.

Dr. Franco Gussalli Beretta, managing director of the Italian gun maker, who has been a customer of Mr. Barozzi for more than 30 years, credits Mr. Barozzi's long relationship with major watch manufacturers as one of the keys to his success.

"He can find for you almost any model," Mr. Beretta said in a recent e-mail interview.

"In some cases he was also successful in finding some that did not exist, " Mr. Beretta added: "In one case what I was asking did not exist, so he did it himself. …

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