CUOIERIE MECCANICHE BRELLI HISTORY
Taken from Familys document, from Castelfiorentino Town Archives, Florence Town Archives and from Enzo Bartaluccis diary.
Bruno Bartalucci, stage-name Brelli, was born on May 2, 1901 in a little place in Central Tuscany.
When he was 12 years old, learns craft by an artisan shoemaker; at 20 years old sets up shop in Castelnuovo d'Elsa, when soon is well appreciated by his fellow townsmen.Brelli is well known in the whole Val dElsa, by all the valley nobility and aristocracy so that his fame reaches Florence, where, his brother in law, Ippolito Sabatini, has the good idea to open a shoemakers shop with accessories in Via Palazzuolo n. 34.
We are at the beginning of 1930, the Brellis shop becomes a little factory that, with the help of machinery and expert artisans, produces little hide masterpieces: this is the birth of "Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli".
Giuseppe Panerai becomes customer of "Calzoleria Sabatini" and remains astonished at the exceptional strength of shoes and accessories produced by Brelli. Panerai asks to Ippolito Sabatini to meet his brother in law: he wants to order an important sampling for the "Regia Marina Militare"; Giuseppe Panerai goes in Castelnuovo d'Elsa where meets Brelli in his laboratory; Panerai shows to Brelli a watch: its the prototype of Radiomir and Panerai wants a special strap that can resist to the ruining action of sea water as that particular watch will be the kit of the Division "Incursori" of the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina).
Brelli can obtain a greased hide that satisfies the needs of Panerai: he will call it "sea hide". Brelli will supply the most part of straps used by Panerai and due to both the co-operation and friendship, Giuseppe Panerai hires, from Officine Galileo, Enzo Bartalucci, first-born child of Brelli. Due to this adventurous and demanding job, Enzo is often far from home and his Tuscany; he goes in all military harbour of Italy, he sails the whole Mediterranean sea on different units of Regia M.M.; this direct getting in touch with Marina Militare increases a strong passion for the military professional watches. Enzo is charmed by the already legendary Radiomir, for which his father produces straps.Many times he went in Piazza Ferraris to deliver to Panerai the monthly production of straps in sea hide and many times he stayed on talking with Giuseppe Panerai and admiring the produced watches: Enzo starts to draw watches.He designs, plans and realizes Aliseo, a watch studied for Army officers appointed to the fire of torpedoes on torpedo-boats destroyers; its a Radiomir modified on which it has been applied a big button at h. 9.00 and with "crono" movement (one button). On the dial there is a sliding rule that was used for the immediate calculation of the speed of the enemy ship to be sank; with these data on the aiming system patented by Panerai it was possible to hit the mark with the max facility and rapidity.
In the spring of 1940, Enzo is engaged in an important and risky undertaking: he has to install and test transmission systems on units of Japanese Navy. Enzo leaves as a technician, he sails on submarine Mambelli to reach the meeting point in the Atlantic Ocean. The main difficulty of the mission will be to run the blockade made by the English; notwithstanding Italy is not entered the war yet, it is under the control of the Anglo-american Allied Forces. The submarine Mambelli sails across Gibraltar under an Allied transport ship getting confused with it; now the Mambelli can reach the fixed point: on May 20th, at h. 11.12 p.m., at 60 miles South of the Cape of good hope there is the meeting with Guro la Kiso , speedy unit of Japanese Army. Enzo, in Japan, receives the news of the Italy entry in war and he will come back to Italy on September 27th, 1940. During his stay in Japan, Enzo designs the "Submarine", a watch of about 64/65 mm destined to big depth, planned for the submarine forces and for divers.In the first months of 1941, Enzo Bartalucci becomes part of the testing group for Regia M.M., we are in the middle of the war, Enzo, together with other two colleagues, sails on torpedo-boat destroyer Ardito in order to make important transmission tests ship to ship in the Mediterranean sea on behalf of Officine Galileo. The end of the Brellis first-born child will be tragic; called to perform the Military service in M.M., he will take part in important actions in the Sicily channel and in Aegean sea as NCO on a torpedo-boat destroyer; survived to the bombing raid on Naples, he will die for typhus epidemic in the military hospital of Castellammare di Stabia on August 13th, 1943.
In the first 1950 Brelli transfers his factory in Castelfiorentino where, with the precious work of 25 artisans, can put all his products on the Italian market; many working prosperous years will follow, full of satisfaction for Brelli who will leave his position to his nephew, Fabrizio Ciampi, the only continuator of his skilful art. Fabrizio Ciampi or Fabrizio del Brelli continues with dedication the work started by his grandfather and destiny wants that, 60 years later, in 1995, Brellis heir and Officine Panerai S.p.A. gather their destinies.
Fabrizio Ciampi supplies straps for the historical re-edition of the legendary Luminor Panerai and for this watch, under direct request of Ing. Dino Zei, realizes the "Kodiak", a particular treatment that allows to leather to remain into sea water for 24 consecutive hours. Later Fabrizio Ciampi patented this treatment.