The grandson of the founder of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli is best known his business career, high life as well as his different watch style.
The First World War was the year when wristwatches became quite common. Wrist watches, which are much more practical than pocket watches, are preferred by soldiers at the front; soldiers returning from the war, especially those living in the countryside, continued to wear watches, the most valuable accessories left over from the war. However, soldiers who wanted to protect their watches from scratches wore their watches on the cuffs of their shirts, not directly on their wrists as we are used to today. The famous French director and writer Jean Cocteau continued this tradition as a sign of respect for the soldiers returning from the war and wore their watches on the shirt. However, the most famous name of this style would not be Cocteau, because the automobile magnate who shaped Fiat, one of the biggest brands of the era, the familiar face of the world jet society, Gianni Agnelli, was gaining an unforgettable place among watch collectors with his watches worn on the cuffs of his shirts.
Gianni Angelli, who was born on March 12, 1921, in Villar Perosa, near Turin, was the grandson of Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat, and the future heir of Fiat. Gianni, who lost his father Edoardo Agnelli in 1935 at the age of 14, was raised by his grandfather to be the head of the company one day and was sent to travel to the USA at a young age to observe the automobile market. For young Gianni, who encountered a magical world in the USA, style has been a part of her life since these years.
With his successful career, the notorious flirty life in the jet set, and his refined tastes, Gianni Agnelli was a pleasure dealer. One of the things that made Gianni’s style different was his watches. He wore his Omega Seamaster when he was skiing, not while diving, and when he opened it with his boat, Porsche Design watches were visible on his wrist. Gianni wore the watches in every way unusual. The fashion of wearing watches on the cuffs of soldiers returning from the front to the outskirts of the city after the First World War, which we mentioned at the beginning of the article, became an extraordinary style that became associated with Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli, who was born as the child of an industrial bourgeois father and an aristocratic mother.
There are various rumors about why Gianni wears his watches on his cuff; one is that the cuffs of the Italian-made Battistoni shirts are cut too close to the wrist, so the watches do not fit on the shirt. Another story told is that he preferred to wear the watches over his shirt because he was uncomfortable with the feeling of watch metal on his skin. Another rumor was that Gianni, who was always busy, did not want to waste time pulling off his shirt sleeve to check the time. It is not known which of the rumors is true, but Gianni Agnelli always had a watch that was worth seeing over his shirt.
Wearing his watches on his shirt, Gianni liked to break the conventions of fashion, wearing rough boots under his suits or hanging his ties outside of his sweater. Chosen as the “Most Stylish Man of the Year” by Vanity Fair in 1970, Gianni Agnelli was as much an art dealer as she was about fashion. Filling his baroque villa in Villar Perosa with works by artists from all over the world, Agnelli had bequeathed shortly before his death that his works be exhibited in an art gallery in Turin that the public can visit. Another passion of his was the football club Juventus, which he assumed the presidency at the age of 25. Juventus, which he ruled until 1954, became one of Gianni’s lifelong passions. His sister, Maria Sole Agnelli, said of Fiat, “He put Italy on four wheels.” It seems that it was his refined tastes and style that kept Gianni Agnelli, who once led Fiat, on all fours.