A silver lining— Milan


Monocle cracks the mysterious and intriguing world of safes and vaults by paying a visit to family-owned locksmiths Parma Antonio & Figli. Fortuitously the Italian economic situation is working in their favour.

Bode-Panzer, Gunnebo, Kaso, Parma Antonio & Figli, Safe

It’s no secret today’s topsy-turvy economy has made investors jittery and financial institutions anxious. In crisis-hit Italy, where cash is still favoured over credit cards when making payments, households are particularly keen to find a secure spot to stash their banknotes. For locksmiths Parma Antonio & Figli, it’s a perfect opportunity.

Headquartered just north of Milan since 1870, the family-owned manufacturer of safes and vaults makes money protecting other people’s valuables. On a tour of its assembly line, Parma’s managing director Giorgio…

Panels are cut

Steel sheets up to 2cm thick are laser-cut to make wall panels and other safe components.

The safe takes shape

A four-man team begins assembly by hand-welding edges and corners.

Cement lining

Safe walls are lined with one of seven cement mixtures prepared on site and left to dry for 24 hours.

Ingenious locks

Steel keys, bronze mechanical combination locks and electronic keypads made in-house undergo testing.

The top dogs of security


Since 1891, Helsinki-based Kaso has specialised in security. Besides its portfolio of prefab strongrooms and secure filing cabinets for clients such as Siemens and Finnish government ministries, the company makes custom- isable safes for homeowners with doors available in birch.


Founded in 1764, Sweden’s Gunnebo has morphed from a humble maker of nails into a €650m conglomerate that works to keep cash safely under wraps. The company’s key holdings include UK-based Chubbsafes and French locksmith giant Fichet-Bauche.


Started in 1858 in Hanover, Bode-Panzer has carved out a niche as a manufacturer of safes used in automated cash machines.


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