Sunday, April 16, 2017

Carlo Riva Italian High-End Boat Builder


Carlo Riva

Italian Luxury Boat Building Legend

Belongs To The Ages

Carlo Riva was a legendary high-end board and yacht designer and builder who passed away a few days ago. His Riva boats are considered by many to be the Ferrari of speedboats, despite the fact he made Lamborghini powered Riva speedboats.

Carlo Riva was born in Sarnico, Italy on February 24, 1922 into a famous family that made amazing boats. Riva was founded in 1842 on the shore of Lake Iseo in Italy, by Carlo's great-grandfaterh, Pietro Riva. Carlo is is pictured below in front of a classic Riva boat and he is wearing this trademark yellow gold Rolex Day-Date. Carlo Riva has worn a Rolex Day-Date for many decades, which is a timeless and iconic symbol of quality and elegance, just like his beloved Riva boats.

During the 1950s, Carlo Riva built a state of the art shipyard in Italy to build his beautiful luxury speedboats, that were made primarily from superbly crafted mahogany. Thus, began the golden era of Riva boats. 

Riva Speedboat Factory in the 1950s

Sun, Sea & Joy of Living

Riva boats were also unusually fast as some of them could go faster than 40 nots at full throttle. The super modern streamlined shape of the Riva boats personify the essence of fine Italian design.

Today, Riva still hand builds these amazing boats that are based upon the original 1950s Populux design language. The technology has changed and today the Riva boats hull is made from fiberglass, but they still have the trademark mahogany wood deck that Jeremy Clarkson once referred to as "The mahogany passport to the high life". Riva boats today go for around a million dollars. 

The Riva brand was acquired by Italian shipbuilder, Ferretti, which owns 7 other luxury yacht brands. Today Riva's slogan is "As it was yesterday, it will be forever."

Amazing Detail

Let's take a look at the details that make a Riva Yacht so amazing. They say God is in the details, and as I have mentioned so many time before, there is nothing in the world like fine Italian craftsmanship.

Riva Yachts stand testament to timeless design and functionality. The design language of the Riva Yachts is steeped in late art-deco from the 1950s, which is referred to as Populux.

I mentioned the Reva design is steeped in Populux design language, which was a late 1950s movement that represented the zenith of art-deco design. Populux is a conjunction of 'Popular' and 'Luxury', and is characterized by chrome and sharp modern lines as we seen in these pictured of the Riva Yacht.

Populux is also the kind of design language you would find in the tail fin of a 1959 Cadillac. When you look at the Riva boat craftsmanship detail in the highly polished mahogany deck it is exemplary.

Vintage Riva

An Amazing & Iconic Heritage

Let's get in the Rolex Time Machine and go back to in the past to learn about Riva's amazing heritage. Riva speedboats back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were all the rage and then some. Many famous glamorous movie stars, celebrities, Royalty, heads of state, Sheikhs, and Billionaires were photographed in iconic Riva boats. In the photo below we see a vintage Riva magazine ad, which is so cool looking...

Michael Rennie

In the photos below from 1954 we see actor Michael Rennie in his Riva speedboat. Michael Rennie was an English film, television and stage actor, who is likely best known for playing Klaatu in the science fiction movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still, which debuted in 1951.

The image below confused me when I first saw it, as it appears to be a combination of the photo above, as well as the photo below it. In other words, I think somebody did a pre-photoshop comp of it, but it is interesting none-the-less.

La dolce vita

The movie La dolce vita, debuted in 1960 and was a huge hit. It went on to become one of the most iconic films that defined the early 1960s. The stars were Marchello Mastroianni and the stunningly beautiful Swedish model, Anita Eckberg.

Annita Ekberg is pictured below in her Riva Tritone speedboat, which was the first yacht to have two engines, and hers is complete with Zebra pattern seating. Indeed Annita was living The Good Life!!!

The video below was released by Tudor at BaselWorld in 2016, and it takes place in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, which is where La Dolce Vita was shot. In case you are not familiar, Tudor is a watch brand owned by Rolex. The video features Nat King Cole singing "LOVE" in french, which is beyond sublime!

Paul Newman

Paul Newman is pictured below in 1963 as he travels onboard a Riva to the Venice Film Festival. Of course, Paul Newman is considered to be a high priest of vintage Rolex today.

Sophia Loren

The Italian Princess

Next up we see the one of the most beautiful women that has ever lived, The Italian Princess, Sophia Loren hanging out on a Riva Speedboat back in the 1960s.

Peter Sellers

In the photo below we see actors Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland in 1966 in their Riva Speedboat in the port of Monaco.

Jean-Claude Killy

In the photo below we see legendary Olympic Ski Champion Jean-Claude Killy onboard his Riva in 1971.

Brigette Bardot

In the photo below we see Gunter Sachs with his wife, legendary actress, Brigette Bardot in their Riva speedboat.

In the photo below we see Brigette Bardot and her husband, Gunter Sachs, and notice he is wearing a Rolex GMT-Master.

In the photo below we see another photo of Bridgett Bardot in a Riva boat taken in Saint-Tropez in France.

Sean Connery

In this next photo we see James Bond actor, Sean Connery in 1967 haulin' ass with some friends on his Riva Rudy. 

Princess Grace

In this next photo below we see Princess Grace of Monaco with her husband, Prince Rainier II, along with their kids as the navigate around the harbor of Monaco in their Riva. Prince Rainier of Monaco purchased his Riva Triton in 1958, with Hull Number 62.

Aristotle Onassis 

In the photo below we see legendary Billionaire Aristotle Onassis's famous Christina O Yacht, with his personal Riva speedboat.

George Clooney 

In the photo below we see actor George Clooney on a Riva, and he is wearing a really cool Omega Seamaster Proplof. I believe this photo was taken during the filming of Ocean's Twelve. George Clooney also owns a Riva which he keeps at his home on Lake Como, in Italy.

Aquarama Lamborghini

Riva partnered with Lamborghini to make boats from 1962 to 1996. Ferruccio Lamborghini's personal Riva is pictured above and below. I used twin 4.0-liter, 350 horsepower 12 cylinder Lamborghini engines, that were very similar to the engines found in the Lamborghini 350GT sports car. Together Riva and Lamborghini made a total of 769 boats together.

In the photo below from we see Ferruccio Lamborghini, founder of Lamborghini taking delivery of his personal Riva, from Carlo Riva. Lamborghini was a tractor manufacturer, and as legend has it, he complained to Enzo Ferrari about a Ferrari sports car he owned, and Ferrari told him if he thought he could do it better, he should. And that is exactly what he did.

In the vintage photo below we see Ferruccio Lamborghini in his personal Riva Aquarama Speedboat with dual 12 cylinder Lamborghini engines. 

Ferruccio Lamborghini in pictured below in his personal Riva Aquarama Speedboat.

In the photo below we see Fabio Lamborghini with Carlo Riva, an notice Lamborghini is wearing a Rolex.

Rolex & Yachting

After writing this story, the Rolex Yacht-Master kept popping into my head. In my recent story about the Submariner and SEA-DWELLER, I figured out Rolex named both models after Jacques-Yves Cousteau. This made me naturally start thinking about where the name, "Yacht-Master" came from? The most current version of the Rolex Yacht-Master is pictured below, and it is basically a Rolex Submariner variant.

In the past, I wrote a story titled, "The Complete History Of The Rolex Yacht-Master", which offered a unique look into the Genesis of the model. Then I started thinking about how Riva Yachts were at their zenith point around 1967, and this made me think about a 1967 Rolex prototype Yacht-Master Chronograph that Rolex made. This watch was only a prototype and was never offered to the public for sale.

This Rolex Yacht-Master prototype pictured above was 39.5MM in diameter and had a Rolex Reference of 6239/6242. The dial was made in 1967 and the case was made in 1969. I can't help but wonder if Riva Yachts were part of the inspiration for Rolex to create the Yacht-Master?

Dick Bertram

This Rolex ad seen below from 1968 shows Dick Bertram who was a pier of Carlo Riva as well as being a boat making pioneer and legend. Today, his company still makes amazing boats. Among other things, Dick Bertram pioneered inventing the 'Cigarette' speed boats. Basically, his boat were the American version of Carlo Riva's boats.