Ettore Cattaneo, the former owner of this Universal Genève watch, was called “the blonde apostle of aviation” for his piloting career. Ironically, however, he was never meant to fly. Instead, he had to continue the family tradition of dentistry, but he wasn’t the type to stay grounded. He was both a pilot, having completed military aviation training in 1918, and an Italian patriot. He participated in the controversial post-World War I occupation of the Adriatic port of Fiume in 1919, led by the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. Later, Cattaneo would set records in gliders and go on to design and pilot his own rocket-propelled aircraft. The “Radio Razzo” was tested at Taliedo Airport Milan and laid the framework for a planned rocket-powered flight across the English Channel. While the Channel crossing never happened, Cattaneo was honored with the rank of count. He was the sort of eclectic, interwar-period character with a larger-than-life legacy.
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