Time is something Fabrizio Sotti is thinking a lot about these days. Mostly, that there’s never enough of it.
Since February, the acclaimed jazz guitarist and watch collector has been trying to balance his career performing, recording and producing music with his responsibilities as a new father. It’s getting harder, he says. I’m leaving soon to go on the road for the first time since Thalia was born and I’m dreading it. She’s changing so fast, I don’t want to miss anything.
Welcoming his first child wasn’t the only milestone for Sotti this year. He also turned forty in the spring. To mark the occasion, he’s recording a new album, one appropriately titled Forty. And later this year, the celebrated New York guitar maker D’Angelico will introduce the EX-SS Fabrizio Sotti Signature Model, a gorgeous semi-hollow body guitar that he helped design.
Looking out the window of his newly renovated SoHo recording studio – across the hall from a space owned by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett – Sotti laughs when asked if he ever dreamed of having his own line of guitars. When I was 16, I left Italy and came to America with nothing. My only ambition was to be the best jazz guitarist I could be. I had no expectations. I still live that way.
That ability to live in the moment led to a second career for Sotti in the 1990s when he became known outside the jazz world for his skills as a producer and songwriter. In addition to recording six of his own studio albums, he’s also worked with everyone from Dead Prez, Ghostface Killah and Q-Tip to Gipsy Kings, Jennifer Lopez and Cassandra Wilson.
Success in the early Nineties meant that Sotti began collecting at a time when watches were getting bigger, more complicated and bling became a thing. Today he isn’t ashamed to admit he’s a recovering bling-aholic. I was a hip-hop producer, working in New York City, in the 1990s. Are you kidding me? Of course I wore a diamond watch.
Nowadays he prefers high complication over high jewelry, but his taste remains as eclectic as the list of artists he’s worked with. One brand in heavy rotation these days is Anonimo, a watch produced at the same factory in Italy that used to make cases for Panerai. Sotti says, Being Italian, I’m already partial to the brand. But what I really like is that it has a lot of personality.
Through the years, that democratic approach has fueled the growth of Sotti’s extensive collection, which includes Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Tudor and Panerai, along with heavy hitters, like the 5074P Minute Repeater from Patek Philippe. Some of my watches are serious watches. The price is serious, and buying one is an investment I consider carefully. But I’m no snob. I like all kinds of watches. If any watch speaks to me, I will wear it, regardless of whether it costs $5,000 or $500,000. Smiling, he adds, “Now that I have a baby to take care of, I wish a few more of the $5,000 watches would start speaking to me.