MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina


The first watchmaker's shop in Varese

Efrem Anganuzzi, born in 1880 in Gravedona (today Gravedona ed Uniti), a small coastal town on Lake Como, learned to be a watchmaker at the Bernasconi silversmith's in Milan, a business founded in 1872 and still active today, its prestigious shop located in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. After starting an independent business with the same Bernasconi, in 1909 Efrem opened an artisan shop in Varese – on what was then Corso Vittorio Emanuele, now Corso Matteotti – where he repaired watches and clocks: thus was born what can be considered the first watchmaker's shop in the city. Efrem Anganuzzi's business also operated in Gavirate , in a shop open only on Fridays, market day, in order to serve clients from the surrounding area. In 1913 Efrem Anganuzzi married Emilia Giuseppina Bottini, born in 1891, who assisted her husband with his business. They had two children: Rosita, born in 1913 and Ampellio, born in 1920.

The business grew quickly and the repair shop, which was on the upper floor of the building, next to the family home, came to have eight employees, all watchmakers. The date of the repair and the name of the business were engraved inside the cases of the repaired timepieces, functioning as a guarantee for the customer. Every Monday, Efrem and his employees, and later also his son Ampellio, visited the villas of the "lords", many of whom were from Milan, to wind their valuable grandfather clocks.

The sale of jewellery (wedding rings, other rings, earrings, broaches, necklaces) and varied silver was added to the repair and maintenance activities. Young Ampellio attended the watchmaker's school of the Società Umanitaria of Milan and at the tender age of fifteen won a prize for making a grandfather clock.


From father to son through the mother

After finishing school, Ampellio began to work with his father in the shop, while his sister Rosita went in a different direction. During World War II, the young man, enlisted, was captured by the Germans and sent to Germany. With the issuing of the racial laws, many Jews fleeing to Switzerland went to the Anganuzzi's shop to sell their jewels, but honest Efrem did not profit from it, preferring to direct them elsewhere. Returning to Varese and to work, in 1947, in honour of a long engagement, Ampellio Anganuzzi married Dora Cerrozzi, born in 1926, who was a shorthand typist by trade and worked during the war at the Varese office of the Cassa Nazionale dei Lavoratori dello Spettacolo Sfollati. In 1949, Efrem Anganuzzi died and the ownership of the business fell to Emilia Bottini, assisted by her son, who then became a father in 1950, with the birth of Daniela.

In the following years, the shop underwent an almost total commercial transformation, which led to the closure of the repair workshop. Repairs were then done by Ampellio alone, in the back of the shop, assisted by an external watchmaker during busy periods. In 1958, Raffaela was born, Ampellio's second daughter. In 1961, his mother, by then elderly, retired and the business took the name "Oreficeria Anganuzzi Efrem di Ampellio Anganuzzi", while his sister Rosita, who had never taken part in the shop, liquidated her share.

Dora Cerrozzi began working with her husband, doing the accounting and maintaining commercial relationships with representatives and suppliers, among whom a particularly important role was played by the Milanese jeweller's shop Lattuada, founded in 1930. In 1962, activity in Gavirate ceased.


From timepieces to bijoux

During the 1960s, the sale of silverware became gained ground, with important brands such as Mantel and Clementi di Casalecchio di Reno. The timepiece section also grew, with famous brands, like the Swiss Cyma and Lorenz, highly appreciated by Ampellio, whose work also included, in addition to repairs, simply checking the timepieces brought to the shop by customers. Baptisms, anniversaries, engagements and weddings were the most common occasions for the sale of valuable objects, concentrated above all in the month of December. In the shop one also prepared little gold and silver surprises for the Easter eggs made by a local pastry shop.

The Anganuzzi watch and jewellery shop counted on a circle of loyal customers, many of whom knew the founder personally or had memories of him from when they were little and visited the shop with their parents or grandparents.

Customers that became "friends" over the course of a long relationship of trust and esteem. The daughters of Ampellio Anganuzzi and Dora Cerrozzi at first and for a long time were only occasionally involved with their parent's activity, preferring to take other directions in life, which after their studies led both to become teachers. On 3 June 1988, while the family was getting ready to celebrate Raffaela's wedding, and at a time when business was going rather well, the shop was robbed. The historic fiduciary relationship that tied the business to its jewellery supplier, Lattuada, showed itself to be a valuable resource in the face of emergency.

The product offer underwent a profound change: the focus on watches was reduced while, starting in the 2000s, fine silver costume jewellery began to appear, slowly replacing the more expensive traditional jewellery, of which it was a "perfect imitation".

In 2007, Ampellio Anganuzzi died, having continued to spend his time in his shop up to the very last days of his life.

The business continued with the constitution of the simple limited partnership "Eredi di Anganuzzi Ampellio di Cerrozzi Dora & C." with Dora Cerrozzi as a full partner and the two daughters as limited partners.

The widow – who after the death of her husband lived in the old family apartment above the shop, both of which had always been rentals – took the leadership of the enterprise, with her usual professionalism and supported by her daughters, especially Daniela.

The little shop on Corso Matteotti 62 is today, as it was for that matter in the past, not just a shop but also a kind of drawing room for customer/friends. These are offered not only the watches and jewellery of another time, but also elegant pieces of fine costume jewellery, carefully chosen from the best Made in Italy suppliers and sometimes to be paired with specially packaged bonbonnières. All with savoir faire and a focus on the customer. The family continuity of the business, which has lasted more than a century, is now highly uncertain, since Daniela and Raffaela have chosen professions other than business or are completing their studies.

In 2011, the company was enrolled in the Register of historic enterprises, which was created by Unioncamere as a way to honour the various centuries-old companies present throughout the Italian territory.