“I always manage to invent something that satisfies the client”. In a world filled by the metaverse, AI and chat GPT, the approach of Milanese artisan Christian Zanaboni seems to be of a different era. It’s also something that would not likely be said by an entrepreneur leading a medium or large company: they would discuss vision, programs, financial plans. Even so, the Zanaboni family has been active for 80 years and Christian (51 years old), continues to produce watchstraps with his company: Atelier del Cinturino.
The Atelier and leather
Christian Zanaboni does everything on his own. He produces about 2,000 watchstraps every year, mostly selling them to clients all over Italy. Yet, he also has wealthy customers that request personalized watchstraps for their expensive watches. These clients can choose the covering, design, size, sowings, shape of the end, buckle, print and even the exact piece of leather they want. “Sometimes customers want to create a watchstrap that is more expensive than the watch itself”, says Zanaboni to the al New York Times. A watchstrap compatible with a 33mm Cartier Ballon Bleu watch costs 160 euro if made with alligator leather. Zanaboni uses shark, ostrich, lama, buffalo, kangaroo and galuchat (specific type of shark) leather for its watchstraps.
Experience and training
Christian Zanaboni had studies to become a watch repairer, and he worked for Cartier. But the solitude of the activities led him to change path. In 2014 he took over the family business, Atelier del Cinturino. In 1945 his grandfather, Giovanni Zanaboni, opened a laboratory that produced buckles and, later on, watchstraps for Arluno, company based near Milan. Christian’s father Giuseppe, continued the activity that passed on the hands of the son. The latter doesn’t hide the difficulties tied with exporting these goods: “Customs has even asked me to specify whether the ostrich leather of a watchstrap came from a male or female specimen”.