Antoine Preziuso (Independent Watchmaker), Antonella Joannou (Dressage Champion), Dandy (Horse), And Fire Fly (Watch)
by Ian Skellern
I have the good fortune to live in the countryside just outside Geneva. The region has beautiful scenery with mountains and lakes that I never get bored with; there are many great watchmakers and great watch brands within an hour’s travel . . . and, being in the countryside, there are horses.
Thanks to my wife Brigitte’s lifelong passion for horses and dressage, we have a few horses at home. So my life revolves around the usually disparate worlds of fine watchmaking (especially the independents) and looking after equines; two universes that are so different it’s difficult to imagine how they might intersect.
Well, here’s one way by means of a “firefly.”
Antoine Preziuso is an independent watchmaker and longstanding AHCI member based in Geneva with his own brand. His career has encompassed being workshop manager at Patek Philippe, creating the Opus 2 for Harry Winston (at the time MB&F’s Maximilian Büsser was in charge), and creating his own eponymous brand.
The Antoine Preziuso collection features the Tourbillon of Tourbillons (2015 winner of both the Public and Innovation prizes at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève), the B-Side Tourbillon with reversible case, and the 3volution, which featured triple tourbillons.
The Antoine Preziuso brand is a real family affair comprising his wife May, his son Florian – also a watchmaker – and his daughter Laura, who also has her own jewelry sub-brand, “Jewelry by Laura Preziuso.”
Interestingly – and fortuitously for the purposes of this story – Laura also likes horses and competes in dressage.
Antonella Joannou has been my wife’s twice-weekly dressage coach for well over two decades. Joannou has always been a very talented rider, but a combination of raising a family and not having the right horse kept her out of serious international competition until a few years ago when she first started riding a friend’s horse, Wantino, in high-level dressage competitions followed by her own horse, Dandy de la Roche (“Dandy of the rock”). Joannou is presently the number two ranked dressage rider in Switzerland.
Dressage is basically a combination of gymnastics and athletics for the horse, who must complete − both mentally and physically − incredibly difficult events while making it look effortless.
International Dressage Competition at Jiva Hill Stables, Crozet
Laura Preziuso’s love of dressage led Antoine Preziuso to sponsor an international dressage competition near Geneva at Jiva Hill Stables. The event was the Grand Prix, the most difficult of the set dressage programs. The grand prize was an Antoine Preziuso Fire Fly watch.
Laura Preziuso also has a dressage coach. Not surprisingly she is the same one that coaches my wife: Antonella Joannou.
Joannou entered the Grand Prix category of the International Dressage Competition at the Jiva Hill Stables in Crozet, and won the event with an average score of 71 percent from five international judges hailing from France, Netherlands, Russia, Germany, and Denmark.
Antoine Preziuso Fire Fly
And to finally complete my story’s circle, Joannou also won the prize of an automatic winding Antoine Preziuso Fire Fly wristwatch – a watch that has now become her daily wearer, so I’ll let you know how it holds up.
The Fire Fly watch is a medium size (41 mm long) in a tonneau-shaped steel case. While the display back allows appreciation of the nicely finished automatic movement, it’s the bold, bright, funky hands and numerals that really catch the eye and ensure that it’s easy to tell the time, even in a sitting trot.
And those bright colors are in Super-LumiNova, so will be just as legible in the dark as by day.
With this, her first gold medal for a Grand Prix in international competition, Joannou joins the elite few riders that have won an international dressage Grand Prix. She is also a member of the Swiss dressage team and is currently number two in the Swiss dressage rankings. And she presently does not have a sponsor.
It’s a rare event when the world’s of independent watchmaking and international dressage overlap, and I’m pleased to have witnessed one.
For more information, please visit www.antoine-preziuso.com.
Quick Facts Antoine Preziuso Fire Fly
Case: 41 x 33 mm (medium), stainless steel, available in small, medium and large versions
Movement: ETA caliber, automatic winding, 42-hour power reserve, Geneva waves finishing, decorated winding rotor, display back
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: 4,500 Swiss francs (medium)