Watches

Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

or case­back cus­tomised with a paint­ing or an en­grav­ing and they could lit­er­ally com­mis­sion any­thing they de­sired—or se­cretly de­sired. Por­trai­ture was a pop­u­lar style and it was com­mon to re­quest for a pic­ture of a spouse (or lover) to be etched on the back of a pocket watch. From thereon, it only took the wolfish mind of one bold and li­bidi­nous gen­tle­man to spark a trend that ul­ti­mately be­came a tra­di­tion. In ad­di­tion to paint­ings and en­grav­ings, watch­mak­ers have also been known to pro­duce erotic jaque­marts, which are a kind of minia­ture au­tom­ata that an­i­mate a dial on de­mand.

Given the pro­found lack of home en­ter­tain­ment in the 17th cen­tury, the ap­peal of such watches is not in the least sur­pris­ing. Th­ese time­pieces have also at some point or other been used as hook-up tools in high so­ci­ety. For in­stance, a man might slyly re­veal his pocket watch with an im­mod­est case­back en­grav­ing to a pretty lady he’s sin­gled out as The One (for the night any­way) just to get her at­ten­tion and sig­nal his in­ten­tions. And you thought old peo­ple were con­ser­va­tive.

Of course the church would never abide such fla­grant li­cen­tious­ness and soon enough the re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties all over the Swiss can­tons of Geneva and Neucha­tel formed an al­liance to stamp out this af­front to their moral be­liefs. Erotic watches were to be out­lawed, seized and de­stroyed.

But pas­sion finds a way. To sub­vert this new de­cree, watch­mak­ers found a way to cre­ate a sep­a­rate hinged case­back that con­ceals the rib­aldry so that the watch ap­pears no dif­fer­ent from any or­di­nary, pure, God-lov­ing time­piece. By then, how­ever, erotic watches had be­come a so­cial taboo and when time­pieces tran­si­tioned from the pocket to the wrist in the early 20th cen­tury, this clan­des­tine tra­di­tion was all but for­got­ten.

Swis­s­watch­com­pa­nyBlanc­painbrought erotic watches back into haute hor­logerie in the mod­ern era, that is to say the 1990s. At that point, peo­ple were just be­gin­ning to ap­pre­ci­ate me­chan­i­cal watches again, af­ter three decades of in­ex­pen­sive but dis­pos­able quartz tech­nol­ogy. The Blanc­pain Villeret Répéti­tion Min­utes With Au­tom­ata was a unique piece made in 1993 and the world’s first minute re­peater with au­tom­ata. Pulling on the slid­ing lever winds up both the strike train as well as the au­tom­ata, while re­leas­ing it al­lows the time to be heard and the case­back to be an­i­mated by an­gels in their full naked glory.

Only two or three Blanc­pain erotic watches are made each year and that’s be­cause th­ese are highly ex­clu­sive, be­spoke time­pieces. Of­ten, a sin­gle watch­maker works on one watch from start to fin­ish, un­less the con­cept is so de­mand­ing that it re­quires ad­di­tional pairs of hands. An erotic watch by Blanc­pain re­quires on av­er­age six months to com­plete, of which one full month goes to the craft­ing of the bed­room scene

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