Vintage is always in fashion: review of the Titoni LINE 1919 watch

Wrist Watch

In the 21st century, the speed of life has increased incredibly and fashion trends now change not every season, but much more often. This even affected such a seemingly conservative direction as the watch industry. However, true connoisseurs and connoisseurs of watches do not fall for the marketing tricks of new brands, preferring... no, not classics in their purest form.

It is still a little outdated (in every sense of the word). But models made in vintage style using modern technologies, materials and mechanisms are an excellent option for connoisseurs of watchmaking.

One of the striking examples of manufactories that adhere to this approach is the Titoni company, which has been producing watches for 105 years in the small Swiss town of Grenchen. I accidentally became acquainted with this brand in the late 90s, when at a flea in Paris on Rue Jean Henri Fabre I bought a used Titoni Airmaster model from an old antique dealer in a stretched woolen jacket and smoking a pipe. “Monsieur, this is a classic. Just look at this dial!”

Indeed, there was something to see there. The dial has a complex multi-faceted shape and is Tiffany colour. The hand-wound watch captivated with its genuine old skool quality. And many years later, the new model Titoni 83919-S-575 (from the LINE 1919 collection) came to me for testing. But first, a little history...

It was 1919 and the economic situation in the world was more than unstable, so Fritz Schloop opened his company (then called Felca) with only three employees. Sloop worked hard to develop the business and considered entering the international market as his main goal. He found business partners in Germany, Japan and America who were interested in his reliable and high-precision models, and, as a result, in just a year, watch production increased tenfold, and the company expanded to 15 employees.

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As Fritz Schlüp himself modestly said then, “We are not trendsetters, we do not have such a task. We only produce beautiful watches for confident people who know who they are and what they want!” However, the economic boom of the mid-1920s led to the flourishing of the fashion industry, which could not but affect the design of the brand's watches. The company, renamed Felca AG, began to use more elegant designs, precious materials (silver and gold) and extravagant dial colors when creating new models.

Sales grew rapidly and even the Great Depression of the 30s, which created enormous problems for the entire Swiss industry, had little impact on the company's work. Largely due to the fact that Sloop, who noticed the emerging trend in time, produced high-quality and at the same time affordable models.

In the 1940s, the company strengthened with the addition of Bruno Schloop, Fritz's eldest son, to the management of the company. Before that, he managed to undergo training as a “universal watchmaker” in America and made useful contacts there. As a result, during World War II, Felca AG received a contract for 30 thousand from the US Army. However, there was every reason for this, because the manufactory created excellent watches for the military that met all the necessary criteria: from practicality and functionality to easy and simple maintenance and repair.

The real heyday of the company came in the middle of the last century, when, having entered the world market, it successfully tried its hand in the Near and Middle East, from Saudi Arabia, Syria to Iraq, India and Malaysia. Convinced of the enormous prospects of the Southeast Asian market, Bruno Schloop plunged into it with great energy and tenacity. A new point of growth for the company was Bruno’s meeting with Singaporean businessman Ko Mui Yu.

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They entered into an agreement that marked the birth of a new brand - Titoni, which was supposed to enter the more premium watch segment. In addition to changing the name, the manufacturer’s brand name included a stylized floral symbol “meihua” (“plum flower”), embodying the most important values ​​of the company - endurance, vitality and resilience.

New watch collections were launched - Sportsmaster, Airmaster, Rist-Mate and Blue Bird. And also the “Maharaja” model, equipped with a caliber with 41 jewels, packed in a strict gold case, a Felca with a moon phase indicator and manual winding, as well as a Desert Router (for drivers working in the Syrian Desert in the most difficult climatic conditions). Later, in the mid-60s, models appeared with bright colors and unusual geometric shapes, inspired by pop art and American rock. The company greeted the 70s with models with a minimalist design, devoid of unnecessary embellishments.

One of the iconic models of those years, the Race King was released in 1971 and had the ability to calculate speed on the race track thanks to a tachymeter scale on the edge of the dial. This Race King has its own design. It's somewhat reminiscent of the Yema Rallye or Bulova Chronograph with a surfboard dial, but Titoni takes the aesthetics even further. They expanded the area around the sub-dials to cover the date at six o'clock, making it truly unique. The Space Star, equipped with an automatic movement, referenced classic Bauhaus style and unconventional design concepts, while the Seascoper was the company's first dive watch.

Having quite successfully survived the quartz crisis (the share of mechanical models still accounts for approximately 95% of all Titoni watches), the brand has returned to restrained aesthetics and the use of innovative technologies.

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One of the latest collections of the brand was Line 1919, which refers to the historical heritage of the company and uses the T10 in-house movement. The design of this series is inspired by purist minimalism and is characterized by timeless elegance.

The silver dial of the Titoni 83919-S-575 has a matte sunburst finish, and “1919” is marked in red on all models, which sets the right visual accents. Marks in the form of thin strokes. The date window is at the 3 o'clock position. Fluted crown. The large, transparent sapphire crystal case back provides a clear view of all the details of Titoni's first-ever automatic movement, the T10 (with 32 jewels and a 72-hour power reserve), as well as the gold-tone skeletonized rotor, plated with 18K gold, visually highlighting the delicate and decorative architecture of the movement .

The model is packaged in a 40 mm steel case. Thanks to its thickness of 10 mm, the watch fits perfectly on any wrist.

To sum it up, I would like to say that I prefer to wear retro-style watches and believe that “vintage” is synonymous with elegance. Despite the somewhat massive metal bracelet, the model looks light and laconic.

In general, Titoni has once again produced not just an excellent watch, but also a stylish accessory that goes well with both a strict black suit and clothes in the smart casual style. Thanks to its timeless design, these watches will never go out of style.

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