The Art Of The Watch
By Sarah Jayne Potter | 4 minute read
Inspiration comes from many different places throughout many different walks of life. Nature, architecture, people, history and even art itself can become the driving force or first spark into creating something truly unique. This is true in the horology world too, and art and art movements helped watch designers to create and shape contemporary and modern pieces that feel as though they are steeped in history. From significant and important eras or time periods for the brand, or reworking and redesigning iconic pieces from their archives, art inspired watches are a popular choice for both designers, and customers, particularly, the Art Deco period, with its luxury and opulence is most definitely a favoured art movement, and one that is seen across many watch brands.
Dubbed the ‘tuxedo watch’, the Cellini is the embodiment of a modern dress watch, best suited to an evening of fine dining and celebration. Modest in its presentation, the slim and classic Rolex Cellini Time combines the best of Rolex watchmaking know-how with an ageless yet contemporary aesthetic. The name is said to be inspired by the Italian Renaissance artist, Benvenuto Cellini. He was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier, musician, and artist who also wrote poetry and a famous autobiography. He was one of the most important artists of Mannerism and is best remembered for his skill in making pieces such as the Cellini Salt Cellar and Perseus with the Head of Medusa.
Jaegar Le-Coultre Reverso
Our first Art Deco inspired timepiece has to from Jaegar Le-Coultre in the form of the intricate and brilliant Reverso. The Reverso was designed in 1931, at a time when many British soldiers in colonial India would spend their leisure time playing polo. As the oft-told tale goes, a player showed their smashed wristwatch to Swiss businessman César de Trey, who turned to Jacques-David LeCoultre, and challenged him to create a watch that could endure the knocks of the game. This resulted in the creation of the Reverso, with a geometric case that can swivel 180 degrees from back to front, protecting it from the action on the playing field. Almost 90 years later, the versatile Art Deco-style timepiece, with its clean lines and classic proportions, remains a firm favourite with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s many fans. Inspiration of the movement is channelled through both the dial, and the casing.
The first ever Cartier Tank watch was created in 1917, in the midst of the First World War, and the prototype was presented to US General John Pershing. The elegant-looking piece was inspired by the design of the Renault FT-17 tank, which had gained a reputation for its small yet highly innovative design, including the housing of its weapon in a fully rotating turret. Since then, this unisex watch has become an icon of the house, having been worn by the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Andy Warhol. The Cartier Tank Solo watches bring a contemporary feel with a combination of rounded and square edges; very reminiscent of the Art-Deco movement and the geometric structural lines. The perfect contrast of versatility and durability in its inspiration, with an artistic flair in its creation.
Longines Dolce Vita
Designed in 1997, the Longines DolceVita collection full of elegant watches for women who like to celebrate the sweetness of life hence the name. The pieces come in both bracelet and straps options, and the rectangular shape of the casing is slim and delicate, sitting perfectly on the wrist. The clean lines and simple silhouette echoes the architectural influences within Art Deco, and the DolceVita pieces that include rows of delicate diamonds on the face just adds to the glamour and luxury that time period was known for. This watch is a fantastic and versatile watch, being suitable for both day and night. The aesthetic is very classic and timeless and would make a wonderful gift.
The Longines Flaship was first introduced in 1957 and was met with a resounding success. The sleek silhouette ensured it was a must for many watch collections, but the design on the back was what really made this watch stand out. A small yet impressively detailed enamel Flagship emblem was designed on the steel caseback of the vintage models. At the time of its launch, the ship was one of the most prominent features within mid-century art. Marine and maritime art, and depictions of the sea and of ships was included in many a painting and within interiors, and homeware. Longines decision of using a ship as a launch feature correlates with the artistic time period. Modern day pieces take its outward design queue from its predecessor but no longer features a ship but the legacy lives on.
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