Hands on review of the BarraccO Giramondo

Nov 17, 2013,03:43 AM

It is surely not a coincidence if Tommaso Barracco took the decision a few years ago to create his own watch brand. His passion for watches and his own career as Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group, without forgetting his position as board member of several large corporate companies gave him undoubtedly the will and the desire to become more than just a keen observer but a real player in the so special watch world. But we don't have to be fooled: such project and adventure require, beyond the ability to find the right providers and partners, a  perfect sense of organization and a business plan drawn with surgical precision. If the way the mechanisms work inside a watch seem to be very complex, they are however sometimes much easier to understand than those which govern  the opaque watchmaking industry whose functioning and structure are far from being optimal.

The BarraccO Giramondo with a chocolate dial, please note the initials of the owner on the right side of the dial:

In order to give to himself the best chance of success, Tommaso Barracco followed a two-year training at the Lycée Diderot for a watchmaking CAP (Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle, a French professional qualification). Thanks to this qualification, he could master the technical basis to lead and manage his project and to bring credible questions and answers to his providers and suppliers. He was able to start designing different models which would make up his future collection and  to meet providers to choose those who would be able to accompany him. This step was obviously fundamental because these chosen providers would have to be able to deliver within a tight timeframe  very small series of parts while maintaining the required quality. Those who manage to meet such expectations are very few taking into account the multiple bottlenecks of the watchmaking industry. A comprehensy address book is not enough! The capacity to select the people to be on on board is key!

The line-up of the current BarraccO collection is as follows:

- the Pendolo, a simple watch with a large central second hand. The watch is a tribute to Galileo who discovered the law of the pendulum by observing the swinging movements of the chandelier of the cathedral of Pisa. Since the pendulum law was used to regulate the first weight-driven clocks, the symbol of the pendulum became the logo of Barracco's brand. It is the reason why we will find it as the counterweight of the second hands and displayed on the solid casebacks.

- the Faraday is similar to the Pendolo but with a slightly more powerful design. Actually, the case is thicker due to the presence of a protective anti-magnetic shield made of Mumetal around the movement.

- the Electum is maybe the most "philosophical" watch of the collection. Time is displayed through three distinct time scales in order to allow the owner of the watch to choose the right time horizon and the speed of the flow of time he wishes to follow: fast with the second hand, slow with the hours and minutes hands, almost still with the large date window.

- the Giramondo is the watch dedicated to the travelers thanks to its second time zone display and its day/night indicator. It also features like the Electum a large date window.

Tommaso Barracco has paid particular attention to the coherence of the collection to define the sustainable style and the visual identity of his own brand. That is why the four watches share in common many elements that make them move, despite the complications and the different lay-outs of the dials, within the same aesthetic context. Two elements embody more precisely BarraccO's style: the case and the dial.

4 watches in the collection, all animated by Soprod movements:

With the help of Ludovic Blanquer and Michel Berra who created in the past the Louis Vuitton Tambour watch, Tommaso Barracco designed a classic and elegant stainless steel case, with  hand polished mirror finish and slender curves. The slight prominences on the casesides bring a touch of character. This detail reminds me a bit the Patek Philippe Nautilus case which is a good reference! The ratio between diameter (41.5 mm) and thickness (11mm) is balanced, which gives to the watch a sleek style without being too flat. 3 of 4 watches use this case, only the Faraday has a larger  thickness (12.5mm) due to the anti-magnetic shield.  The casebacks are solid which make us enjoy a nice representation of the pendulum symbol which is also used as the counterweight of the second hand.

The dials are made with care and contribute strongly to the positive perceived quality of the watches. They offer a finish that looks like to the Côtes de Genève pattern, called in this context  "increspato" for reminding the water ripples. Such a result is achieved thanks to a press which stamps the base material of the dials, brass. Then the dials are polished and galvanic painted by eletrollytic deposition. The luminescent rhodium-plated steel index are applied on the dials which give a welcome volume effect.

I propose you to have a closer look on the Giramondo. The Giramondo is dedicated to travelers, or at least to those who are in contact with persons located in a different timezone. It is an excellent representation of BarraccO's style. Despite its busier dial, the display elements blend well with the  "increspato" pattern and all are still very readable. But I would have preferred that the second hand does not have the red end since this segment is more difficult to read when the dial is dark (hopefully, a single colour hand is also available upon request).

The BarraccO Giramondo with a gray dial:

The movement that powers the watch is the Soprod 9351-A10 (basically an A10 base with an additional module featuring a large date and a 24 hours second time zone display through the day/night indicator. It is a movement I like because it defines a very pleasant and rational organization of the dial. The big date is positioned at the top of the dial while the day & night indicator is perfectly integrated into the display leaning against the second timezone subdial. This movement is obviously not exclusive but it is found in more expensive watches like the Hermes Cape Cod GMT or the Hautlence Destination. Its performance is classic with a 4hz frequency and a power reserve of 42 hours which I find to be a bit short by today's standards.

The case elements:

Taking into acount  the style of the case and of the dial, I have preferred to wear the Giramondo with the bracelet rather than the leather strap. I explain this feeling quite easily. Firstly, I find that the bracelet fits particularly well the case in embracing and extending the curved lugs. Secondly, the aesthetic atmosphere reminds me more of a Girard-Perrigaux Laureato or of a Patek Philippe Nautilus. Finally, I feel the Giramondo more convincing  with this sport-chic approach than with a more formal connotation. But with both strap or bracelet, it is worn with comfort.

The Giramondo is a successful watch for me because I find coherent and carefully designed and built. It does not revolutionize the watch offer and it certainly doesn't bear a very high mechanical and aesthetic originality. But the quality of the finishings, the care to details and the pleasure to wear a watch from a brand that is currently doing its first steps make it very attractive. And it features an asset that finally very few brands are able to offer: the customization.

With the bracelet:

While the automotive industry has made a significant progress on this topic, the watch industry is still trapped in its old patterns and organization, sometimes confusing tradition with immobilism. I must say that customization is scary because it requires a specific supply process  and a flexible production. Vacheron Constantin had however in the past tried to bring a solution following this idea and built a whole customizable offer  with the Quai de l'Ile. It unfortunately didn't meet the expected success for various reasons, one of them being the large delivery delay.

With leather strap:

In a somewhat paradoxical way because a small brand does not have the same buying power than brands belonging to large groups, BarraccO can move with more flexibility and speed and avoid some pitfalls. Tommaso Barracco offers customization of cases, dials and bracelets. The cases can be delivered with different finishes (mirror polished, satin, DLC). The dials are available with a wide range of colors from chocolate to blue without forgetting grey or ivory. And, even more noticeably, it offers the possibility to write the initials of the owner of the watch on the dial by choosing the color and the font. The combinations are very numerous and in this context, it is hard not to find the watch that best fits our wishes.

Undoubtedly, the availability of this customization reflects the quality of Tommaso Barracco's thought during the establishment of the project and of the business plan. His brand already owns the basics and the assets that allow it to consider the next steps of its further development with optimism and trust.

Thanks a lot  to Tommaso Barracco for his availability.

+ a beautifully designed case
+ a nice dial thanks to its  "increspato" pattern
+ the comfort and the nice integration into the overall design of the metal bracelet
+ the customization of the case and of the dial

- the red end of the second hand which makes it less visible on dark dials but thanks to the customization, a single colour hand is available
- the power reserve of Soprod movement is a bit short

This message has been edited by foversta on 2013-11-17 08:16:52

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BarraccO will be present at the Salon Belles Montres in Paris

 By: foversta : November 23rd, 2013-15:20
Between the 29th and the 1st of December. If you are around, it will be a good opportunity to discover them in the metal. Fx