Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli
We are an Italian historic company, located in Tuscany. We handcraft, with extreme care and attention, classic flat, padded and half padded watch straps of all sizes with classic attachment, starting from 8 mm up to 28 mm, respecting the artisan tradition since four generations.
On May 2, 1901, in a small village in central Tuscany, Bruno Bartalucci nicknamed “Brelli” was born. At the age of twenty he opened a shop in Castelnuovo D’ Elsa, where he produced shoes, boots and leather accessories. He becomes famous for his work and also in the Florentine area for his special cowhide, which he personally regreases, thus making his boots particularly water resistant. In 1937 Giuseppe Panerai, who had become a customer of the shoemaker of Mr. Ippolito Sabatini, Bruno’s brother-in-law, bought the boots produced by Brelli. Panerai immediately realizes the particular water resistance of these boots and that important secret projects proposed by the Ministry of the Royal Navy could be solved precisely with the leather treated by Brelli himself and decides to ask for more information.
Panerai will meet Brelli in the next few weeks and, at the end of June 1938, will born a working relationship and friendship that will last for almost twenty years; in fact Bruno’s leather passed the judgment of the Regia Marina’s testers. Bruno will supply the Regia Marina and in particular the underwater operators, range notators and commandos of the Decima Flottiglia MAS and to G. Panerai & Figli watch straps in its special cowhide, which was able to avoid the erosive action due to immersion in brackish water for long periods, for what will become the legendary Luminor Panerai. The following year, Euro, Bruno’s eldest son, graduated in Florence in mechanics and, because of the friendship between Brelli and Panerai, the latter let Euro enter the design office of the Officine Galileo in Florence as assistant draftsman. Due to the strong talent for mechanics and technical drawing, Euro soon made himself appreciated for his work, so much so that when needed he was commanded in operations of assembly and maintenance of telemetry turrets on war units of the Regia Marina. Following his call to arms, Euro will leave for the Navy’s recruit training center in Venice, to then be transferred to the naval base in Taranto. Embarked on the Regia Nave Trento and then on another, he will make countless crossings in the Sicilian channel, in defense of our convoys. He survived the bombardment of Naples and he died on the night of August 12, 1943 in the military hospital of Castellammare di Stabia, following infections caused by wounds.
Bruno Bartalucci continued to supply straps to G. Panerai & Figlio until the first half of the 1950s, when, called to open a shoe factory, he closed the Cuoierie Meccanizzate Bruno Brelli. Fabrizio Ciampi, the only heir of his grandfather’s work, will refound Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli in 1982 after having worked in his parents historic shoe factory. Fate sometimes presents itself in all its ways and this happened when Rudi Brusconi, the right arm of Dino Zei, who succeeded the directors of the Officine Panerai, asked to Fabrizio “Brelli” for the supply of fifty signaling belts for which Fabrizio had made samples, only discovering later that the Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli mainly produced watch straps. Rudi Brusconi, noting the exceptional quality of the leathers offered by the cuoierie, spoke about it with Zei, who immediately ordered a sample from Fabrizio Ciampi. That sample, made in cognac-colored leather, became the embers from which the Araba Fenice would later be reborn. Almost sixty years later, in 1992, another “Brelli” was once again producing straps for the Officine Panerai. Fabrizio, meeting the requests of Panerai, made in the person of Dino Zei, discovered and patented the Kodiak, a special leather treated to increase the longevity in brackish water of his straps that wore Panerai’s watches until 1997. Straps like the black Kodiak, the mud shark and the leather collar became symbols of reliability that still endure today, inextricably linked to the Panerai legend. Since 2021, alongside Fabrizio Ciampi and her mother Marusca Bartalucci, Beatrice Ciampi has begun the long training to become an Artisan of the Brelli family. The Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli, which already supply straps to noble watchmaking brands are still ready to supply you with top quality watch straps built according to your specific requests with a vast sampling of leathers. Beatrice, taking advantage of her young age, brought “Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli” on social networks, and she proudly represents the fourth “Brelli” generation specialized in leather watch straps.