ART OF AN ICON

Top watch­mak­ers and creative heads weigh in on what makes a timepiece iconic. nic.

24-7 (Singapore) - - Contents -

Adis­tinc­tive style; an inim­itable iden­tity – true horo­log­i­cal icons bran­dish in­stantly recog­nis­able virtues that echo through time. Cre­at­ing a watch that be­comes an icon is some­thing that watch­mak­ers work tire­lessly to­wards. An iconic timepiece can el­e­vate a brand and make its for­tunes soar. With­out one, watch com­pa­nies risk medi­ocrity.

But what makes a watch iconic? His­tory tells us there are some key virtues. An un­for­get­table de­sign is one of them. It could be the profi le of the case, the mark­ers on the dial, or the shape of the crown – dis­tinc­tive fea­tures that make the brand and model in­stantly recog­nis­able.

No self-re­spect­ing watch lover, for in­stance, could mis­take the air­plane in­stru­ment panel-like square case and dial of Bell & Ross’ BR- 01, or the re­versible case of Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s Rev­erso watch, for any other timepiece.

“Dis­tinc­tive­ness is the key el­e­ment of an iconic timepiece. That’s what we fo­cused on when we re­launched the brand in 1994 with the Lange 1 watch,” says An­thony de Haas, A.Lange & Sohne’s prod­uct de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor.

Apart from their de­sign, iconic time­pieces may also be dis­tin­guished by the tech­ni­cal achieve­ments that go into their mak­ing. In the horo­log­i­cal realm, this means com­pli­ca­tions that be­come en­twined with the lega­cies of their brand.

For ex­am­ple, men­tion the term “per­pet­ual cal­en­dar”, and IWC springs to mind, thanks to the break­through the brand had in the 1980s when its pro­pri­etary sin­gle- crown ad­just­ment sim­pli­fied the use of the com­pli­ca­tion.

“The com­pany took a gam­ble on my re­search and in­tro­duced the per­pet­ual cal­en­dar at a time when the watch in­dus­try wasn’t do­ing too well. It was a gam­ble that paid off. To­day it is one of our most well-known com­pli­ca­tions,” says Kurt Klaus, in­ven­tor of the IWC per­pet­ual cal­en­dar mech­a­nism.

In re­flect­ing on the birth of his now-leg­endary cre­ation, Klaus in­ci­den­tally de­scribes the process of mak­ing an iconic watch – it al­most al­ways hap­pens by chance.

“An iconic watch isn’t cre­ated by the watch­maker or the watch brand, it is de­ter­mined by con­sumers and the cul­tural mood of the time,” says Janek De­leskiewicz, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor.

Us­ing his com­pany’s ex­pe­ri­ence as an ex­am­ple, De­leskiewicz says that their Rev­erso col­lec­tion be­came pop­u­lar only dur­ing the 1950s, de­spite be­ing launched in 1931. This was helped by the growth of com­mer­cial air travel, which led to a de­mand for dual time-zone watches – a fea­ture of the Rev­erso’s re­versible di­als – as well as a sud­den surge of in­ter­est among women watch con­sumers, who took to the ver­sa­til­ity of style that the col­lec­tion of­fered.

Ste­fano Ma­caluso, gen­eral man­ager of Gi­rardPer­re­gaux, a com­pany that boasts a strong line-up of fa­mous time­pieces such as the Tour­bil­lon with Three Gold Bridges and the Cat’s Eye range for ladies, agrees that mak­ing iconic watches is some­thing that can­not be planned.

“All the right ele­ments – the de­sign, the tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions, the style im­pact – have to come to­gether in the right com­bi­na­tion and at the right time,” he says. “We can try to be in­tu­itive and sen­si­tive to what the mar­ket wants, but there is no se­cret for­mula. We sim­ply do the best we can and hope for the best.”

BBee My Love, CChaumet

In­ge­nieur Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar Dig­i­tal DateMonth, IWC Schaffhausen

Four Sea­sons Cerisier, DeLaneau, L’Atelier by The Hour Glass

HM3 Poi­son Dart Frog, MB& F, L’Atelier by The Hour Glass

Cartier Cal­i­bre de Cartier

Chrono­graph De Ville Lady­matic, Omega

Tank Anglaise,

Cartier Crazy Hours, Franc Franck Muller

Ladies First Chrono­graph Ref. 7071R, Patek Philippe

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