Engravings in Time
“In my family, wood has always had a commanding presence, and I represent the fifth generation of woodworkers in the Tani “dynasty.” Having been born in an artisan’s workshop, supported by a father who, even more than me, has always loved and worked with wood, all this has tied me to this noble and living element in an everlasting way.”
The mechanics and modeling described in antique texts from the 1700s, where clocks with wooden gears were being made in the Black Forest, inspired Matteo Tani’s desire to recreate the studies done by the illustrious masters Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei, adding a touch of his own vision and intuition. Amaranth, bamboo, doussie or afzelia, ebany, ash, mahogany, walnut, and wenge: absolute dedication to a “living” material, which requires thorough and patient study in choosing the perfect types.
“A great advantage of wood compared to metal is that it doesn’t require lubrication; in fact, wood is protected from wear and tear by hardening its surface and making it smoother. This actually allows you to create clocks with the gears in plain sight without worrying that dust might settle on a trace of oil, thus making it stop working.”
An art which has been lost in oblivion, brought back by the artistic talent of craftsman Tani, where rare items live again through unconventional design, its magnetic cadence capturing an intoxicated spectator. Distinguished and numbered works are individually built: spring wound table clocks, pendulum wall clocks, and a new magnetic movement model, inspired by the clocks of the 1800s. “I personally handcraft every component (design, construction, finishing and setting). This allows me to give a part of my soul to each of these creations, which are all numbered and catalogued to be kept track of over time.” Each creation is unique, from the detail that separates shades of grain to personalized engravings, intended for those who appreciate the engineering virtuosity of the warmth of wood. 150 elements lead to the completion of each clock: untreated fine wood, with mordants that alter the color, but finished with natural transparent hard wax, applied and polished by hand, which doesn’t prevent the wood from changing its hue as the years pass.
The brass parts are made by numerically controlled machine tools, and microcrystalline wax polishing is all done by hand for each individual piece. Each pivot rests on strictly Japanese-produced ball bearings, while the pendulum rod is in braided carbon fiber, to minimize thermal expansion caused by changes in weather conditions. Precision, accuracy, and sophisticated research result in decorating with an everlasting piece, in its consistent flow of the relentless passing of time.
“This phrase is often overused, but now more than ever the “true” Made in Italy allows us to excel in the world in regards to design and quality. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s enough to build a product in Italy just to define it Made in Italy. Only an object which elevates Italian creativity in the world is deserving of the “true” Made in Italy,” concludes the renowned craftsman.
Author: Chiara Melani