Andrea Foffi, the owner of the Italian company Vintage Watches & Cars, is known internationally for his passion for and deep knowledge of vintage watches. This is especially true for the Omega Speedmaster: The Italian watch expert has dedicated his new book to his Speedmaster collection. Chrono24 asked Andrea about how he became a watch enthusiast and what makes Omega watches so special.
Andrea, tell us how your passion for watches was born. When did you start collecting?
Foffi: I started when I was very young. When I was 16, I loved browsing flea market stands, searching for unusual objects, mostly watches. I was fascinated by the unusual watch cases, complicated dials, and unknown brands. I still carry within me the legacy of those years. So it’s no coincidence that twenty years ago, I was among the first to value brands that at the time were still not receiving the proper attention, such as Longines, Universal Genève, and Omega. Today, everyone is looking for vintage models; I started searching when nobody else was because they were only looking for Patek Philippe and Rolex watches.
Tell us a bit about your collection. Roughly how many timepieces have you gathered, and which are your favorite models?
Foffi: It is impossible to put a number on how many watches I gathered in thirty years of research. Moreover, I’ve always only kept the models I found most interesting. My favorites are the Omega Speedmasters, to which I have dedicated a lot of time both studying and performing “field research,” viewing hundreds or even thousands of different models. I love vintage chronographs from the 50s and 60s: I love Longines, TAG Heuer, Universal Genève, Rolex, and Tudor. Among modern watches, I prefer independent brands, although lately I love Piaget, too.
If you had to choose one single watch model, which would you pick? What do you like about it?
Foffi: I can’t not choose the Speedmaster. I’m too connected to this watch. I’ve spent too many years collecting all the versions. I respect Omega for always choosing the path of quality, without compromises. A Speedy from the late 1950s is still a perfectly contemporary watch today.
Why did you decide to publish this book?
Foffi: I decided to do this book because I felt I had to leave a mark – I had to share my passion with all collectors – and because of all those years spent hunting down the rarest models. Throughout the book, I try to unite the many tiles of a complicated mosaic, flanking the renowned references with the transitional ones, the pre-series references, the limited editions. Ultimately, I wanted to offer a valuable source of passion and knowledge, so I relied on the editorial experience of Paolo Gobbi and the unquestionable photographic artistry of Fabio Santinelli.
What makes this book so special, and why should people read it?
Foffi: Everything in Magister is special. It has almost four hundred original photographs, taken in ultra-high-resolution without any technical arrangement. The photo shoots took more than a year without ever tapping into low-resolution archive pictures, as often happens. This book is special because all these images sit alongside a passionate narrative that is easy to read yet never predictable. It’s special because we used a six-color print system, something usually reserved for printing the most prestigious art books that cost several thousand euros. Magister offers the reader a daily horological discovery. This book is as beautiful and engaging as I wanted it to be, yet every time I leaf through the pages, I am thrilled and get so lost in the magic of the Speedys, I forget those watches are mine.