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Always"watching"

The Mysterious Franchi Menotti

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There is a story to be told here about a European watch company that has produced some interesting and decent mechanical and quartz watches, including a couple of iconic designs. However, the deeper one delves, the more impossible it becomes to write a coherent, accurate and simple history about this company and its products, so forgive me if I just say that I will do my best. Also note that I use the term "producer" rather than "manufacturer" for Franchi menotti, and also note that the earlier watches are usually either Swiss or Italian in stated manufacture. My own watch, described below, does not indicate any place of manufacture, and so perhaps some Franchi Menotti products hail from the Far East while being designed in Italy..

My own search for information about Franchi Menotti began when I purchased a pre-owned quartz military style Franchi menotti watch of fascinating design. The watch has basically two cases, hinged together so that the watch case lifts up to reveal a transparent-cased compass and scale beneath. The bezel and the watch caseback are stainless steel while the case is a semi-matt greyish silver plate - possibly nickel plating of some sort - on brass. The watch half of this piece has a screw-down crown and caseback (the latter of which I cannot yet remove) and on the caseback is the following engraved information: 10 ATM, STAINLESS STEEL BACK, MOD DEPOS, FRANCHI MENOTTI MILANO, 100M. WATERPROOF. There is also an FM monogram. The face of the watch is also intriguing since the minutes are given only on the unidirectional bezel, while the dial utilises the main compass points and degrees. There is a circular date window and lume on the hands and main dial points, and the face is decorated with a coloured coat of arms and, at the bottom, a banner which reads, "NEI SECOLE FEDELE".

The lower, compass portion of the watch has a sandwich of mineral glass in which the compass needle sits, and there is a printed scale on the glass, which is fitted using a screw-down rim. The case diameter is 38 mm but is wider at the crown and also at the lugs where the hinge and opposite pull-up point sits. The combined watch and compass thickness is 13 mm, thus in total making this a pretty compact watch.

 

Black version of the military compass watch in my collection. Notice the decoration and wording on the face also differs from my own example (Picture from kijiji.it)

a2def635dddb05c88046461ac59b267f_orig.jp

 

I have described this watch in some detail for the reason that it reflects part of the Franchi Menotti philosophy of producing watch faces and types that are closely related but which differ in decorative details, especially in terms of the military organisations that the watch is commemorating or reflecting. I have not yet encountered the exact model which I own, although there are many variants of my watch, differing in the coat of arms and banner, and differing as to whether or not they have a compass and compass dial. The key model when it comes to my watch is probably the model that bears the inscription, "MARINA MILITAIRE ITALIANA" rather than a Latin motto, and this compass watch is clearly originally designed with marine aspirations.

The compass watch I have in my collection, and the other design-related (to some extent quality-driven) military watches that were produced by Franchi Menotti in the earlier years of the company's history, are one of the two interesting and iconic products of Franchi Menotti, and some models were actually manufactured specifically for the Italian military. Once we reach the mid 1990s however, Franchi Menotti watches have a mainly civilian audience and the company moved into the fashion watch world. This latter move does not mean that all the watches produced since then are without interest or merit, and indeed, Franchi menotti is known for a particular design, called the Banana. The naming of this collection relates to the actual shape of the watch case, and some of the banana watches are quite striking and, I reckon, collectible. There are still one or two Bananas for sale on Amazon.

Having mentioned the more iconic Franchi Menotti watches, what about the company itself? Here, we really reach the mystery of Franchi Menotti as given in my topic title. There are at least four references to Franchi Menotti on forums requesting information about the company where no real answers are forthcoming. And the research needed to go a bit deeper in order to find any useful historical information is considerable. A poorly written/translated introduction to the company on Montre24 started me off and I then had to take bits and pieces of info from other forum posts and sales sites to fill out the profile. So, this is my best shot:

The story starts in 1974 when Franchi Menotti launched his first line of watches, with the company based in Milan and the watches being design-influenced by the architecture of Italy and with quality and materials being important considerations. Apparently, the Franchi Menotti of the same-named company, was a watchmaker, and his primary aim was to design watches geared for the military. There is a slight problem for me in that I do wonder if the title of the company actually relates to a real person. Silly, I know, but what makes me suspicious is that the General Director of the parent? company of Franchi Menotti was a Paolo Franchi, in 2011, and the latest contact person for Franchi Menotti SRL (in about 2000) was Franchi Alessandro. Also, there are no biographical references to Franchi Menotti that I can find - so it does make me wonder.

Anyway, the main products of the Franchi Menotti company started out as military-inspired watches, including chronographs, and the brand featured watch ranges that were named after historic monuments, extraordinary persons and historical events. There was also the use of even more individual faces by means of decoration that related to different regiments and forces. The top of the range model was the Franchi Menotti Michaelis chronograph which was named after a bulky 16th century fortification in Italy. This Swiss-made solid stainless-steel watch, made in limited numbers, had an automatic ETA7750 movement, a unidirectional bezel and luminous inserts in hands and dial. The diameter of this watch was 42.7mm.

Another range, this time specifically requested or commissioned by the Italian armed forces, was the Sciabecco collection, which included water resistant chronographs that featured 100 metre water resistance, screw-down caseback and crown, mineral glass, stainless steel case, and Swiss ETA 251.272 quartz chrono movement. Other ranges included the Swiss-made Cap Martin sports collection, dedicated to the world of the Cote D'Azure, with 100 metre water  resistance and swiss movement, and the Oceano range, with its bold design and dedication to marine uses. This Oceano range used stainless steel cases, sapphire crystal and the watches had a two-year guarantee and were sold in wooden boxes.

It seems that the military and military-style watches were the mainstay of the company until about the mid 1990s when Franchi Menotti morphed into a fashion watch concern, still producing nice watches but perhaps not of their former quality and robustness. Interestingly, there also seems to have been something of a switch in terms of the origin of the movements used. Instead of Swiss movements, the watches now tended to feature Japanese movements, in particular, movements - both mechanical and quartz - from Miyota. The banana watches, for example, contain Miyota GP10 quartz movements, which in my experience are reliable though quite inexpensive.

It is not clear what the current status of Franchi Menotti Watches is. The company is still listed on an Italian company directory site as being in existence as "Franchi Menotti SRL," headquartered at  Via Fontana 15, Milan. However, the site gives no indication of the nature of the business being conducted, and when one gets up the listed Franchi Menotti website, one is informed that it is still under construction. I do have a 2011 reference that gives Franchi Menotti "Brand 1974" status under the heading of P.F.O. Paolo Franchi Orlogi, in the Via Parini, 64021 Giulianova (Te), with Paolo Franchi as the general Director. It seems likely that Franchi Menotti is no longer an independent producer of watches.

 

Iconic Franchi Menotti "Banana" watch - red face, with numbers. Still available from Amazon (picture from Amazon.com)

71d6gjQHUAL._UX342_.jpg

As a final paragraph, something just needs to be said about the availability and price of Franchi Mennotti watches. Forum opinions, where they are expressed, differ widely, and while a post on the Rolex Forum talks about the watches as being utter rubbish, this view is not shared by others. As a conclusion from sources available, I would say that Franchi Mennotti watches are actually pretty good, and do make an alternative to other, more common, military and fashion watches. In keeping with my opinion that the company is no longer very active as a producer, most watches available to purchase are either pre-owned or end of line stock. This means that a bargain may be had, though one should note that original prices for the watches were rather high, making them overpriced when they were new and in stock.

 

 

 

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There is a circular date window and lume on the hands and main dial points, and the face is decorated with a coloured coat of arms and, at the bottom, a banner which reads, "NEI SECOLE FEDELE".

The key model when it comes to my watch is probably the model that bears the inscription, "MARINA MILITAIRE ITALIANA" rather than a Latin motto, and this compass watch is clearly originally designed with marine aspirations.

 

 

 

 

NEI SECOLI FEDELE (Faithful through the Centuries - Italian of course) is the motto of the Carabinieri (the Italian equivalent of the Gendarmerie, simply put)

MARINA MILITARE ITALIANA simply means Italian Navy

Ciao! 

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Thanks for the translations, AVO:smile:. I understood the naval reference but not the Cabinieri motto on my own Franchi Menotti watch.

Edited by Always"watching"

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Guest Bruce
8 minutes ago, totiamo said:

Hello . I need an information and hope that you could help me. I have a Franchi Menotti quartz watch (with logo "marina militare") too, but I removed and lost, some years ago, the battery. Could you, please, indicate me which battery (ref. number or code) is required for this watch ? Thanks a lot. 

Totiamo 

 

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Great read Honour.........it's why you deserve the award :thumbsup:

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Really that does the watch repairer, who proposed me to change the whole watch machine because of alleged battery fluid loss (60€). I refused and gave up.

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Hi, Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I have a similar watch....As Tourbillon has described, it is the one with the compass.... (trying to attach picture from work - but locked down)  I am trying to get a idea where best to get it vaued for selling it.... 

Many thanks.

AMIT....

Just now, AmitGokani said:

Hi, Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I have a similar watch....As Tourbillon has described, it is the one with the compass.... (trying to attach picture from work - but locked down)  I am trying to get a idea where best to get it vaued for selling it.... 

Many thanks.

AMIT....

I meant "Always Watching" post..

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