All the NTH Subs are named after various classes of submarines used by the Navies of countries throughout the world. When it came time to name the one we decided would be a Watch Gauge exclusive, one name jumped out - Nazario.
The California dial, with its mix of Arabic and Roman numerals, led us to focus on subs used by the Italian Navy, due to the Roman numerals, and the Cali dial’s association with vintage diving watches issued by the Marina Militare. The Nazario Sauro was just the second name under the MM heading.
Something about the name stood out, and very soon, I was reading the history of the man himself - Nazario Sauro, honest-to-goodness Italian military hero, and martyr to the turn-of-the-century cause of Italian unification.
My grandfather’s family came to America from Italy. But like many people born here, most of the depictions of Italians I’d seen on TV and in movies were of mafia types. And of course, I’d heard the jokes putting down the Italian military. For hard-working, honest, and rightfully proud men like my grandfather, a WWII US Navy veteran, those stereotypes were a slap in the face.
Honoring the memory of such a man, someone who didn’t simply fight for his country, but died in service to a country which didn’t truly exist yet, only seemed natural.
What sort of man was Nazario Sauro? If you don’t want to read his whole story, just read this letter he wrote from his prison cell to his wife, Nina, one of only two he sent prior to his execution at the hands of the Austro-Hungarians. It tells you all you need to know.
Nazario Sauro is recognized as an Italian hero with two Italian Navy ships named in his honor. Born in 1880 in Austria, Sauro began sailing as a child and became captain of his first cargo ship at the age of 20.
Sauro was also a known irredentist who supported Istria’s unification to the Kingdom of Italy. During WWI, he joined other refugees in Venice to persuade Italy to join the Entente side. Sauro was a volunteer in the Italian Navy when Italy joined the war, and in just 14 months, Sauro’s torpedo unit accomplished more than 60 missions. He was promoted to sub-lieutenant on the Giacinto Pullino submarine and awarded the silver medal for his achievement.
However, disaster was imminent for the young sailor—in 1916 during a sabotage mission in the Hungarian port of Fiume (now Rijeka in Croatia), Sauro’s boat crashed into a rock in the Kvarner Gulf. His crew was captured and imprisoned. After standing trial for treason and facing a military tribunal, Sauro was sentenced to death and hanged.
Though the Navy destroyer ship named after Sauro faced a similar destiny, sinking to the bottom of the Red Sea in 1941, the Nazario Sauro submarine was in service until 2009. It’s now on display at a maritime museum in Genoa, Italy.
NTH is honored to be able to pay respect to the memory of this great man through our continued collaboration with Watch Gauge, producing a series of special edition NTH Subs - the original Nazario, the Nazario Sauro, and the new Nazario Azzurro.
The Nazario Azzurro will be available for pre-order, exclusively from Watch Gauge, soon. Contact Watch Gauge for pre-order details.
Nazario & Nazario Sauro