Watchmaking, the temptation of art

It is a sign of the times. From December 10 to 16, the Design Museum in London will present ‘The Oak Collection », The first exhibition of a watch collection from a private individual, French who is moreover. Patrick G. is a complete stranger who still values ​​his anonymity, and one of the greatest collectors of watches in history. Among the 150 models presented (out of the 480 in the private collection of Patrick G.), Patek Philippe reigns supreme. This unsuspected treasure, kept in a personal museum, has, according to its curator, a colossal value and wants to be part of a certain form of eternity. Like a collection of works of art.

Does the watch deserve a more noble status than that of an object that gives the time? The one, precisely, of an art object, which allows one to get out of the ephemeral and enter into eternity? « I have always considered the watch to be an object of art. It is moreover an area in which certain collectors enter as in religion ”, book Laurent Picciotto, director of the Parisian boutique Chronopassion. For Aline Sylla-Walbaum, international luxury director for the Christie’s auction house, the cause is heard: « There is undoubtedly an artistic dimension in the watch: it has stood the test of time without losing any of its beauty and relevance. “

Enter the legend

The exhibitions, the watch knew little, unlike the automobile or the jewel. In 2017, Cartier had set up “Cartier in Motion” with architect Norman Foster as curator, at the same Design Museum in London. The brand has long posited as evidence that its jewelry creations belong to an intangible, universal heritage. Like Jaeger-LeCoultre, which is taking over an entire Parisian building to present its Reverso model, until December 24, and to do much more than a machine that tells the time: a pillar of Art Deco. At “Reverso: Timeless since 1931”, you can’t buy a watch, at most a vegan cake from pastry chef Nina Métayer at 1931 Café, located on the top floor. « Jaeger places the Reverso in a historical perspective, of longevity, in a long-term construction ”, continues Laurent Picciotto. The model is thus the object of a staging which aims to increase its aura, even to reveal it.

To rise, the watch must enter the legend, even if it means creating it or proclaiming it. The number of watches that claim the status of icon proves its need to leave a strictly time frame. But creates mistrust, because the elect are few. « We are talking about the ability to make timeless an object that was not made to be contemplated, but useful. It needs aesthetic and technical perfection ”, continues Aline Sylla-Walbaum. Recognizing them requires examining their importance to amateurs. But above all, a simple, universal and therefore quantitative indicator is needed: the rating.

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Watchmaking, the temptation of art

Fuzzy Skunk