MAURICE LACROIX’S RECENT COLLABORATION WITH LEGENDARY CAR DESIGNER HENRIK FISKER HAS SO FAR PRODUCED JUST ONE WATCH. BUT TALKING TO THE MAN BEHIND THE ASTON MARTIN DB9, THERE’S CLEARLY MILEAGE IN THE RELATIONSHIP
Henrik Fisker has finished his breakfast. It’s early-ish on a Friday morning in London, and he’s sitting in the corner of The Churchill hotel’s stylish eighth-floor private lounge, calmly arranging the items on the table in front of him. He’s dressed in a crisp white shirt and a grey jacket that has a hint of texture in it – sign of a considered purchase by a man who likes detail.
Fisker is in London to talk about his recent collaboration with luxury Swiss watch brand Maurice Lacroix, his first foray into watch design. Known for sketching the flowing lines of cars such as the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin’s DB9, and for his own inventive electric vehicle, the Fisker Karma, he now also has a hand in Maurice Lacroix’s Pontos S Extreme, which will be available at Watches of Switzerland in the autumn. Henrik Fisker with his Fisker Karma electric vehicle. Fisker has been a Maurice Lacroix ambassador for three years
‘I became a Maurice Lacroix ambassador in 2010,’ he says when asked who approached who. ‘And then in 2012 they asked me if I’d like to get involved in designing a watch. We spent about six months working on it together – I think it turned out nice.’
He’s full of expressions like ‘turned out nice’. Danish by birth, he’s lived in Switzerland and in California – where he still resides – picking up more than a few Americanisms along the way.
The black limited-edition watch that now bears his name (tucked away on the case back, rather than on the dial) bears many of the hallmarks of a driver’s watch – which is curious, given the watch on which it’s based is first and foremost a diver’s watch. It is, if you like, a drive ’n’ dive watch. The black Fisker-designed version of the Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Extreme is limited to 999 pieces
It’s inherited the clever inner rotating bezel system that’s activated by a lockable crown-cum-pushbutton at 2 o’clock from last year’s Pontos S. Fisker is quick to point out he didn’t have a hand in the mechanism, or in the overall design of the watch (there are two other non-Fisker versions of the Extreme – one in blue, one in khaki), but that his influence was over choice of colours used in the watch and in the design of the strap.
‘I wanted to make it feel fast,’ he says, perhaps not surprisingly, given his sports car background. ‘Red is a very sporty colour and the strap is perforated, which you see in lots of motorsport-inspired watches, but it also has this shape which angles in, to make it look as if it’s moving.’ That strap is made of an abrasion-resistant textile and hydrophobic leather so that it can be worn underwater. It also makes it much more resistant to sweat than a normal leather or textile strap – useful if you have an active lifestyle. Fisker designed the strap of the Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Extreme to look ‘fast’. The strap is made of hydrophobic materials so it can be worn underwater
Given Fisker is one of the standout designers of his time, it’s intriguing to find out what he thinks about watch design and the industry it’s spawned.
He finds inevitable similarities in how cars and watches are designed, whether in the relationship between a car’s engine and its body, compared to that of a watch’s movement and the case that surrounds it, or in the challenges faced by designers in making dashboard instruments and watch dials both legible and reflective of a brand’s unique DNA.
He’s surprised at the size of the industry. ‘There are so many brands,’ he says, somewhat perplexed. ‘How can they all survive? The challenge is to make your watch brand stand out – otherwise I think many brands will disappear.’
At this stage, he feels he has a lot to learn about watchmaking before he can design a watch from the ground up, and he’s enormously respectful of the skills involved. Asked what he’d do if commissioned to design a concept watch, his answer is not what you might expect. Rather than focus on the aesthetic or efficiency, he talks instead about the data-carrying potential of a wristwatch. Fisker’s first foray into the watch industry will be of interest to design fanatics – his ideas may yet have great influence over future watch designs
‘People are talking about having one place where you store all your personal data,’ he says. ‘I think that could be your watch. Think about it. At the moment, people think that place will be your phone, but a phone is too easy to lose. I can think of times I’ve lost a phone, but never a watch – a watch you have strapped to your wrist and it’s very hard to remove. You could create a system with a strap that only you can undo – maybe with a code, or using fingerprint technology. Then you take it with you everywhere you go. The only problem with this idea is that most of us like to have more than one watch. But it’s just an idea…’ The Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Extreme is made of a lightweight, super-strong alloy called Powerlite®
Bringing people like Fisker into the watch industry can only make it stronger. Fresh eyes, fresh thinking, fresh ideas – and the nous and know-how to make things happen. No plans are in place at the moment for a further collaboration between Fisker and Maurice Lacroix, but talking to him, it’s clear Fisker is getting the watch bug. Those familiar with the charms of luxury watches won’t find that surprising…