THROUGH THE LOOK­ING GLASS

CAROLINA BUCCI’S work with Aude­mars Piguet con­tin­ues with her name­sake lim­ited-edi­tion Royal Oak, as Jamie Tan finds out

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

The Royal Oak Frosted Gold that Aude­mars Piguet first re­leased in 2016 to cel­e­brate 40 years of the Royal Oak for women was quite a rev­e­la­tion, to say the least. Here was the icon that started the en­tire lux­ury sports watch prod­uct seg­ment, but with the sur­faces of its fa­mil­iar case and bracelet dec­o­rated us­ing the tra­di­tional Flo­ren­tine fin­ish pre­vi­ously re­served for jew­ellery. It’s clearly still a Royal Oak time­piece – which speaks to the strength and ver­sa­til­ity of its de­sign – but the Frosted Gold treat­ment had given the watch a se­cond iden­tity by also mak­ing it a bona fide piece of jew­ellery.

The watch was the brain­child of Ital­ian jew­ellery de­signer Carolina Bucci, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion jew­eller, as the an­swer to a chal­lenge from Aude­mars Piguet’s CEO François-henry Ben­nah­mias. He had seen Bucci wear­ing a vin­tage men’s Royal Oak in her on­line posts and chal­lenged her to de­sign one for women in­stead.

Two years on, Aude­mars Piguet and Carolina Bucci have jointly un­veiled a fol­low-up: the Royal Oak Frosted Gold Carolina Bucci Lim­ited Edi­tion. Like its pre­de­ces­sor, the new it­er­a­tion re­mains recog­nis­able as a Royal Oak. It’s also be­come some­thing else en­tirely though. The change this time lies in

its dial – a mir­ror re­places the fa­mil­iar tapis­serie-pat­terned dial, to pro­vide a con­trast that’s re­flec­tive of Bucci’s work and char­ac­ter (pun not in­tended).

In­deed, the new watch is al­most like an ex­ten­sion of its epony­mous de­signer, who dresses in a mish­mash of street and high fash­ion while ac­ces­soris­ing with an equally di­verse mix of cos­tume and fine jew­ellery. Speak to Bucci in per­son, and the same spirit comes across: thoughts and ideas flow freely, of­ten com­bin­ing in un­ex­pected yet sur­pris­ingly amaz­ing ways. How did you ar­rive at the mir­ror dial for your sig­na­ture time­piece with Aude­mars Piguet? I was look­ing to go in the op­po­site di­rec­tion from where I had taken the Royal Oak Frosted Gold. Af­ter rough­ing up the bracelet and case with the Flo­ren­tine fin­ish, I wanted to flat­ten out the dial in­stead. Rather than have the tapis­serie pat­tern, I wanted some­thing per­fectly flat and still, to the ex­tent of smooth­ing it out into a mir­ror. To be hon­est, I didn’t ac­tu­ally con­sider any­thing else in the de­sign process. That was very de­ci­sive of you, to have zoomed in on this area of the watch im­me­di­ately. It’s just how I am. I don’t dis­tin­guish be­tween my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life – I call it one big sparkly mess. In the same way, I have all these in­spi­ra­tions that were never meant to go to­gether, but they’re all blended in my head. My ideas are all cook­ing, and they’ll be ready at dif­fer­ent points in time. When an idea is ready, I’ll zoom in on it. In this case, I had a men­tal im­age of the fin­ished piece that I wanted to cre­ate in my head right from the start. The new watch builds on the Royal Oak Frosted Gold, but as we all know, your ini­tial pro­posal was re­jected by Ben­nah­mias. How did you con­vince him to go ahead with it? I’m a Scor­pio (laughs), so I’m pretty stub­born. From an aes­thetic point, I knew it’d be a great piece, which is why I kept push­ing for it. Fun­nily enough, one of what I con­sider the biggest com­pli­ments about the watch came from a crafts­man at Aude­mars Piguet, who apol­o­gised for call­ing me crazy be­hind my back be­cause of what I wanted to do with the Royal Oak – he thanked me for push­ing the team to achieve more. Although the watch is ob­vi­ously for Aude­mars Piguet’s clients, to have given its cre­ators plea­sure in build­ing the watch was also a great source of sat­is­fac­tion for me. Has your col­lab­o­ra­tion with Aude­mars Piguet in­spired you in your own jew­ellery de­sign work? Not nec­es­sar­ily. I don’t think there has been any “back­ward” in­spi­ra­tion to in­flu­ence my jew­ellery de­sign work. This col­lab­o­ra­tion did, how­ever, show me that both Aude­mars Piguet and I are in our re­spec­tive places not due to co­in­ci­dence, but be­cause of con­sec­u­tive, de­lib­er­ate steps and de­ci­sions. What I find in­spir­ing is to see Aude­mars Piguet where it is now, yet try­ing to push its own bound­aries. We’re both fourth-gen­er­a­tion lead­ers of our re­spec­tive busi­nesses, so the par­al­lels are there. It’s pushed me to do more and go fur­ther on my side.

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