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Experiences

precision has always fascinated me

Giovanni Zonzini is a racing driver and watch collector from San Marino

Text — Michaela Namuth Photos — Maurice Haas Date — 14 September, 2011

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—For Giovanni Zonzini, it is an article of belief that cars and watches have to be reliable

Every second counts in the life of Giovanni. When he hurtles round the track in his racing car, every move must be correct. Still, he lives for this moment, when the adrenalin flows and the engine roars. On that sort of day, he wears his Ingenieur Automatic with soft leather strap. “You don’t feel it, but you can rely on it,” he explains. Reliability is vital to him in relation to his two passions: watches and engines.

The IWC watches from his collection accompany him in all of life’s situations, not just on the racetrack. “They are too beautiful to leave lying in the safe,” he reflects. That is why he misses no opportunity to wear his titanium Aquatimer Chronograph Automatic. In his opinion, it goes best with his sports outfit while for business meetings he mostly picks a Portuguese. The 48-year-old entrepreneur and racing car driver from San Marino has a soft spot for that particular model, as a Portuguese Chronograph with white face was the first timepiece in his collection. He bought it more than ten years ago, in San Marino. Zonzini remembers the moment clearly. “The watch dealer promised me at the time that no other watch could match this model’s precision. I wasn’t totally convinced by the sales talk, but I still bought the watch. Now I’m bound to admit it: the man was right.

Since then, Zonzini has been seriously bitten by the collecting bug. The watch dealer with whom it all began helps him in his search for new IWC models. But when he is on trips, say to Milan, he always finds time to disappear into some watch shop, just for a few minutes. Nowadays he owns at least one specimen of every IWC model. One timepiece which he particularly treasures is the Pilot’s Watch with blue face. Another of his special watches is the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar in red gold. “I wear it as a jewellery item, but only on really special occasions,” he explains, adding that he is extremely appreciative of the attention which the watch attracts. But Zonzini is also a man who likes to know the subjects of his enthusiasm inside out. So in 2008 he travelled to Schaffhausen to see on location how his watches are made. On that occasion, he met the CEO of IWC, Georges Kern. “I discovered that we share a weakness for fast cars. I was delighted to learn this,” recounts Zonzini. He also spent some time peering over the shoulders of the Swiss watchmakers. Microscopic watch engineering is a special exciting subject for the engine fan. “Precision has always fascinated me.”

That also explains why he is so totally smitten with engines that run like watch movements. Since 1988, he has been a passionate Ferrari® driver. In 2000 he competed for the first time in a Ferrari Challenge race. In 2001 and 2002 he won the Fair Play prize in the worldwide qualifier, as the most courteous participant. “If you want to live life like a gentleman, you can’t play foul on the track and shunt your fellow competitors,” explains Zonzini. Six years ago, he opened “Service Center Stile F”, a Ferrari-licensed garage for supercars in San Marino. This is where he prefers to spend his time when he is not on the racetrack or hurtling along at high speed elsewhere.

Giovanni Zonzini’s sons share his passions. Emanuele, 17, is preparing this year for his debut in Italy’s Formula Abarth®. His eldest, Nicola, has already driven in several Formula races, though he is only 20. From his father, he has also inherited a penchant for watches, and is already the proud owner of a small collection of IWC’s finest. There are days when he actually swaps watches with his Dad. “But Nicola is always a little bit possessive about his finest pieces, especially his Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Automatic from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation limited edition,” discloses Zonzini senior who confesses that, as a father and watch collector, he completely understands.

Explore More Articles
IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN PAYS TRIBUTE TO SAINT-EXUPÉRY’S LAST FLIGHT

70 years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took off on a reconnaissance flight over France and never returned. Now, IWC Schaffhausen commemorates the last flight of the celebrated pilot and author with three special limited editions, thereby strengthening its long-standing partnership with Saint-Exupéry’s descendants.

Kurt Klaus
The Art of Creating Stories and Dreams

Every watch tells a story – about its origin and age, personality and character, tradition and culture, and not least about its owner.

Aquatimer video Screenshot
IT'S AQUA TIME - The new aquatimer video

The evolution of the diver’s watches from IWC continues.

The Next Generation of IWC Engineers

For over 60 years, IWC has been training generations of watchmakers in its own workshops. Candidates need to be deft with their hands and have a flair for technology. After completing their training, most of them remain loyal to the company in northeastern Switzerland for many years.

Swiss National Day
Swiss National Day

Experience the secret talents of the IWC watchmakers.

The Time is Right

The parallels are endless: technology, innovation and cutting-edge design dominate both businesses, and they’re both defined by time. The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team tries to beat the clock in FORMULA 1 motor racing; at IWC Schaffhausen, we are the clock.

Ingenieur Automatic
The Sculptor-Designer

The sculptor-designer is a phenomenon. Even if you are not at all design literate you will know him by reputation. His name has become a synonym for severity.

The Art of Being an Engineer

The engine faltered and cut out. Hunched over his metal baby, Benz wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.