Bartolomeo Ferracina Pen-Watch By Montegrappa: A Pen That Writes Well And Tells The Time Too
by Nancy Olson
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Bartolomeo Ferracina (1692-1777), a watchmaker and engineer from Solagna, Italy.
I hadn’t heard of Ferracina before, though I’d seen some of his work. He is best known for his bell tower clocks, which he constructed for a number of churches in northern Italy as well as one for the civic tower in his neighboring town, Bassano del Grappa.
Most famously, Ferracina was charged with an early reconstruction of the clock tower at Piazza San Marco in Venice (1752-1757), to which he later added the nativity scene and the three kings automata (1758-1759).
While researching for this article, I looked up the civic tower at Garibaldi Square in Bassano del Grappa, a dramatic edifice I visited while touring the Montegrappa pen manufactory a while back. Ferracina is nowhere mentioned as the man responsible for the clock (added centuries after the original structure was built).
Fortunately for us, Montegrappa took on the task of bringing his name and work to the fore with a new pen collection.
Montegrappa CEO Giuseppe Aquila says that this project has been in the back of his mind for a long time and he felt it almost a duty to honor the man whose work he and many others have long admired, but whose name is somewhat obscure. “As Italy’s oldest and premier pen manufacturer, I thought the best tribute to the genius of Bartolomeo would be a pen-watch.”
He adds that Montegrappa, as part of its brand extension program, introduced its first wristwatch eight years ago, so timepieces are well within its creative wheelhouse.
Cartier produced some beautiful combo pens in the 1920s, as did other brands, and it has since produced additional pen-watches. But high-end combo pens are, unfortunately, few. The Bartolomeo Ferracina limited edition is Montegrappa’s first.
The Montegrappa Bartolomeo Ferracina limited edition pen
The Bartolomeo Ferracina is a limited edition of just 100 piston-filled fountain pens in three variations of celluloid: Malachite (green), Indian Rainbow (shades of beige), and Shiny Circles (variations of gray). Montegrappa is well known for its use of celluloid, which has color saturation and distinction very different from the ubiquitous resin most often employed in pen making today.
A 16 mm quartz watch with a white dial and silver-colored indexes is set in the cap crown; it is driven by a Miyota movement. The watch case is made in Italy.
“The watch is set using the crown located right above the pen clip,” says Aquila. “The battery may be easily replaced by unscrewing the timepiece from the top of the cap.”
All of the trim on the pen, including the gripping section, is in sterling silver. And the 18-karat gold nib is available in six sizes, each with an ebonite feeder – another notable touch of quality not often seen in pen making these days since most brands have gone the way of plastic feeders.
What I find most impressive about the Bartolomeo Ferracina is that it is not an “either-or” instrument: both the pen and the watch are fine in their own right, neither is disparaged by its combo status.
The pen is up to Montegrappa’s high standards of pen making with its celluloid body, sterling trim, classic piston filling system, and 18-karat gold nib in a variety of sizes. The watch appears well made and weighty enough to indicate quality without throwing off the pen’s balance, and Miyota makes a reliable movement.
The Bartolomeo Ferracina collection is part of Montegrappa’s Genio Creativo pen series, which honors artists and thinkers from a range of disciplines. Prior sources of inspiration include Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí, Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, painter Amedeo Modigliani, sculptor Antonio Canova, and Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran.
For more information please visit www.montegrappa.com.
Quick Facts Montegrappa Bartolomeo Ferracina pen-watch
Editions: fountain pen
Nib: 18-karat gold, available in six sizes (EF, F, M, B, BB, ST)
Cap and barrel: Malachite, Indian Rainbow or Shiny Circles celluloid with sterling silver trim; 16 mm quartz watch in cap crown
Limitation: 100 pieces in each variation