Rock Around the Clock
The jukebox-inspired Opus 14 confirms Harry Winston’s enduring commitment to the groundbreaking Opus series, writes Sean Li
t wasn’t until that Harry Winston, jeweller to the stars since its inception in 1932, dipped its toe into watchmaking. The brand created timepieces inspired by a number of elements, such as the three arches, taken from the architecture of its Fifth Avenue salon, and the emerald shape, Winston’s favourite diamond cut. These timepieces were natural extensions of the brand’s jewels. But that changed in 2001 when the watch division, under Maximilian Büsser, drew up one of the most fascinating concepts in modern watchmaking: the Opus series.
The idea was that Harry Winston would work with independent watchmakers well known to the horological cognoscenti but desiring a wider audience. The project would also draw attention to Harry Winston with creative, groundbreaking aspects. Its first watchmaker was François-paul Journe, whose brand FP Journe has since developed in leaps and bounds. The Opus 1 set off a yearly introduction of Opus watches, with the concept taking on ever more complex and occasionally wild ideas while spotlighting many of today’s most illustrious watchmakers, such as Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, Vianney Halter, Christophe Claret, Jean-marc Wiederrecht and Felix Baumgartner.
Annual product launches are common in many industries, but watchmakers tend to need more time to develop their pieces, particularly when you consider the Opus series takes a tangential view of how time is displayed. And yet the series has continued year in, year out, with each watch creating a significant buzz. Even when Harry Winston
Harry Winston’s Opus 14 takes inspiration from the jukebox, with a mechanism that interchanges four discs showing a specific display—local time, GMT time, the date and a star with Mr Winston’s signature was acquired in 2013 by the Swatch Group, with the news coming shortly before Baselworld, the Opus 13 appeared on schedule.
However, the following year, with Nayla Hayek at the helm, the brand decided to take a step back. Hayek said another Opus was under development, but she wanted to present it on its own stage at a different time to give it its proper due and to focus all the brand’s attention on the piece, rather than have it as part of a wider portfolio. Industry insiders began to wonder if the project would continue, particularly when Baselworld 2015 passed without a word on the next Opus. But in late October, Harry Winston gathered its most loyal Opus collectors and media in Baden-baden, Germany, to unveil the Opus 14.
The watch, designed by Franck Orny and Johnny Girardin, is very much in the lineage of the Opus series, with an unusual