IN­TEL­LI­GENT DE­SIGNS

Bazaar finds out why the lat­est Mil­lenary from Aude­mars Piguet is the watch ev­ery think­ing woman needs on her wrist this hol­i­day

Harper's Bazaar (Arabia) - - Arabia Bazaar - Words by So­phie Stevens

“WOMEN LOVE JEW­ELLERY THEY UN­DER­STAND IT, BUT THEIR IN­TER EST IN ME­CHAN­I­CAL WATCHES IS ON THE RISE” Chadi Nouri

Gone are the days when a dash of di­a­monds and gold passed for the so­phis­ti­cated woman’s watch, the lat­est fe­male time­piece col­lec­tions are blend­ing stun­ning aes­thet­ics with some se­ri­ous tech­ni­cal punch. Join­ing this grow­ing port­fo­lio is the new Mil­lenary model from Aude­mars Piguet, with its wo­ven “Pol­ish” gold bracelet and off-cen­tred opal dial jux­ta­posed against the par­tially vis­i­ble cal­i­bre 4101. “Women love jew­ellery, they un­der­stand it, but their in­ter­est in me­chan­i­cal watches is on the rise,” Chadi Nouri, prod­uct di­rec­tor at the Swiss lux­ury watch­mak­ers, tells Bazaar. “With this in mind, we de­cided to ded­i­cate this Mil­lenary col­lec­tion to women, and de­vel­oped a tai­lored back-to-front move­ment which took us five years to ac­com­plish. This spe­cially de­signed move­ment is im­pec­ca­bly tai­lored to the oval shape of the case, which is er­gonomic and sits per­fectly on the wrist.”

The Mil­lenary was first un­veiled at this year’s Sa­lon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie (SIHH) in Geneva, part of a busy 2018 for the brand along­side the in­tro­duc­tion of their 300-piece lim­ited edi­tion ‘Frosted Gold’ Royal Oak with its sil­ver-toned dial. Both mod­els are clearly re­spond­ing to this grow­ing fe­male col­lec­tor mar­ket, a po­si­tion that Aude­mars Piguet is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­brac­ing with Chadi at the helm.

“In to­day’s world – and es­pe­cially at Aude­mars Piguet – women are en­cour­aged to con­nect with their in­ner self,” re­flects Chadi. “It’s cer­tainly where my thoughts and plans come from. I stay true to my cre­ative mind and sug­gest new ideas on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, whether it’s for the women’s col­lec­tions or any other prod­uct line.”

She’s cer­tainly the right woman for the job, hav­ing risen through the ranks of Cartier to over­see both its High Jew­ellery and Jew­ellery cat­e­gories in Switzer­land be­fore join­ing Aude­mars Piguet in 2015. “These ex­pe­ri­ences trig­gered my pas­sion for jew­ellery and watches as an en­tity, how they are con­ceived, built, com­mu­ni­cated and sold,” she ex­plains.

“Chadi talks to all the watch­mak­ers and chal­lenges them,” ob­serves Jas­mine Aude­mars, chair­woman of the board of di­rec­tors at her fam­ily’s com­pany and great-grand­daugh­ter of the brand’s co-founder, JulesLouis Aude­mars. “I think by work­ing with women as prod­uct man­agers it al­ters things. The watch­mak­ers start to adopt a dif­fer­ent view and change their minds… al­though don’t tell them that!”

While Jas­mine’s own pro­fes­sional back­ground lies in jour­nal­ism – she spent 12 years as ed­i­tor-in-chief of Le Temps in Geneva – she re­turned to the watch­maker’s home in Le Bras­sus in 1992 to suc­ceed her fa­ther as head of the board, bring­ing some key ca­reer les­sons with her. “It’s all about peo­ple in both,” she says of jour­nal­ism and high watch­mak­ing. “You need tal­ent and pas­sion in each in­dus­try, as well as pa­tience.”

Pa­tience is the theme of Jas­mine’s fu­ture vi­sion for watch­mak­ing, in which she would like to see even more women in­ter­ested in me­chan­i­cal watches with com­pli­ca­tions. “It started a few years ago,” she ex­plains. “We talk to a lot of women and find that they are re­ally in­ter­ested in me­chan­i­cal watches, which is some­thing rather new.” Jas­mine cites fe­male en­trepreneur­s as a strong ex­am­ple: “They are very in­de­pen­dent and you can see how in­ter­ested they are in dif­fer­ent watches. I think that’s where we have re­ally big po­ten­tial.”

Both Jas­mine and Chadi agree that the Mil­lenary is the model most rel­e­vant to to­day’s Mid­dle East mar­ket where they also see a strong de­mand for spe­cial or­ders. “Sev­eral of our top col­lec­tors are based in the Mid­dle East,” shares Jas­mine. “The col­lec­tors we meet are pas­sion­ate and know watches so well – they are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the his­tory and roots of the brand and where it comes from. They dis­cuss de­sign with our watch­mak­ers on an equal level, which is com­pletely fas­ci­nat­ing. Some of them have sev­eral hun­dred Aude­mars Piguet, al­ways want­ing the lat­est model.”

Knowl­edge and crafts­man­ship ap­pear to be the sur­vival buf­fers of the lux­ury watch­mak­ing in­dus­try against the re­cent ad­vance of the ac­ces­si­ble smart watch. Chadi is quick to ex­plain why: “If you con­sider that a piece of high horol­ogy is in fact a piece of me­chan­i­cal art (that also hap­pens to give time) the state­ment that ev­ery­one has a mo­bile phone or a smart watch is ir­rel­e­vant. Cen­turies of knowhow, of con­stant re­search of per­fec­tion – both me­chan­i­cal and aes­thet­i­cal – hun­dreds of hours of hu­man work… These can­not be­come ir­rel­e­vant sim­ply be­cause you can read time dif­fer­ently. Con­sider our watches more as a Gi­a­cometti or a Dalí; a work of art that you wear on your wrist and not on your wall.”

As the fi­nal count­down be­gins to 2019, it’s clear that the Mil­lenary is the time­piece to im­press in the New Year. For now, at least, smart watches ap­pear to be firmly off the hol­i­day wish list.

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