Eroticism and Watchmaking
Prestige Watches Guide, July-August 2016
Report by Marie-Christine Tayah
Watch and eroticism would go hand in hand, as the eroticism’s vital energy rules the watches movements as well as those of the heart. Perched high on its hands, eroticism gives sharp weapons to watches and hearts’ pulps. Thus, it pushes the wearer into a breathtaking turmoil, of a flyback with natural impulses. Winding the era of time and yet automatically adapting to the needs of time, regardless of space. Nowadays the big brands still perpetuate the legacy of watchmakers and adorn their erotic automaton watches. Besides, the visually configured erotic scenes attract admirers beyond luxury auctions, such as for instance «the saucy watches» exhibition organized by the Watchmaking Museum of Le Locle. Violating conservative traditions, these concepts were often banned and seized. Still, just like all forbidden relationships, the pleasure is consumed in the den of curious glances.
Beyond decency, insolence, that of self-assertion, one remains stuck in an existence where one learns not to focus on anything, in the midst of time, and not to hold on to anything but to that infinite moment when one only exists through a look, a touch, another one, the ultimate other half. And we recall a quote from Woody Allen’s movie, «Midnight in Paris»: «I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face like some rhino hunters I know… It is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds, until the return that it does to all men. And then you must make really good love again.»
Libertine watches were created in the late XVIIth century. The first erotic watches were manufactured by the most important names in Swiss, French and English watchmaking. Still, they have encountered various obstacles. The first obstacle is technical followed by religious prohibitions, helped in the evolution of watchmaking. The development of these models could be concretized with the Minute Repeater movements and back and forth movements with sexual overtones. In fact, the XVIIIth century is the century of indulgence by excellence; all forms of art develop during that period, in an open space, where eroticism incentive encourages one to break chains, trample morality and exceed limits and limitations. People look for comfort, convenience and privacy rather than ostentatious and solemn setting. They like frivolity, gallantry rather than heroism or mysticism. Paintings become more decorative and sensuality lives the grace of its shepherdesses and nymphs. As in any kind of decorative arts, clocks have not escaped either the art of nature.
Like any kind…
Be it the one manufactured for the Petit Trianon for example, which was adorned with its love birds, or even the Avignon of Gouthière Pendulum with its masterpiece ornaments characterized by decorative sculpture, revealing a nudity that reflects the two opposite sexes, each work of art reflects naturalist carelessness, and a return to the laws of nature. Friendly characters are brought to life under the Empire. The Hortensia Pendulum, in honor of Queen Hortensia, is found in many copies in the beginning of the century. An inexhaustible theme is provided by the love combined with preciousness in all its forms, through nudity. Moreover, the influence of an «open» literature is evident in the watch and topics such as Marion Delorme, which decorates the porcelain pendulum of Jacob Petit, the Louis Philippe era. The perfection of art leads to the acceptation of this object that reflects the spirit of the official painting during the 1980s. «Time mowing loves» is the theme of a pendulum with a thousand details in bronze and green enamel for Gustave Doré. On top of the pendulum culminates the grim reaper… «May we love each other, because we will eventually die…»
Thus, from one century to another, after many literary movements and different masterpieces styles, the clocks ticking ended up ruling the world. Creating creative watches while respecting the DNA of the brand, and the «tourbillons» of history while being innovative, remains a great challenge for watchmakers. The genius of imagination weaves among the great creative minds and their breath today in the XXIst century, this very same creative force that rules the world. Fans of erotic models invariably pursue their passion: in Egypt, King Farouk gathered in early XXth century a collection of erotic watches, which was auctioned after he left the throne. In Geneva, the actor Michel Simon added a series of watches of that same kind, which was already collected by his father, former collector too. Two years after his death in January 1977, the house Antiquorum sold these treasures in Geneva. Elton John also proves to be a collector of erotic watches.
Free of modesty…
An unstable balance remains at the basis of human relations and invites us to move forward every day a little further in order to discover fertile lands of prohibited fragrances or fallen dreams eroticism. Religious censorship being less flashy, clocks are emancipating with joy, beyond morality. Libertinism extends its extensions in time and space and the key brands dare being displayed today at the Basel fair under the theme of eroticism. If the trend becomes erotic shows today, it has evolved tremendously since its invention. The controllers still mostly hide up the illustrations in the back of the watch away from curious sight. It could be a way of teasing, but it would also be a way of keeping to self or for one’s close circle, this secret part of an adventurous character that never shows openly during business meetings. A sort of mischief only the carrier knows, as if the hidden face of his watch conceals a secret facet of himself. In 1993, these audacious aspects are also brought back to life with the major watchmakers. Blancpain first dares to venture in that direction. Its Erotic Le Brassus Minute Repeater Carrousel reveals a cathedral gong, a large white enamel dial fire, and offers a unique erotic scene. The watch also preserves its technical quality; secure movement and manual winding.
Messages of love
In 2011, Perrelet hides on its dial an erotic manga illustration behind the double rotor of the turbine Erotic collection that illustrates the evolution of erotic watches in history; wrist motion actuate the blades of the dial and thus reveal a daring drawing in the manga style. Richard Mille introduced the RM69 with obvious messages, far from being subliminal ones; evocative phrases triggering pleasures appear on the dial of the watch such as «I want to caress you madly», «I long to explore your lips», etc. Richard Mille’s love and eroticism is stated with raw words. No scenes are being played by robots. The desire remains to openly express the passion, sensuality or sexuality is free and libertine. The name of the Tourbillon RM69 Erotic clearly affirms the desire of this creation to shed the light on the most secret intentions. Playful in its interpretation, this timepiece will delight owners in a fun context, appeal to display phrases, some of which are evocative of desired pleasures. With RM69, love and eroticism statements are clearly evoked, in words. The RM69 offers its owner the full enjoyment of the new Richard Mille complication called «Oracle», a mechanism that triggers the rotation of the 3 Titanium grade 5 engraved rotation, inspired from Tibetan mills, and which creates a random statement. Upon owner request by pressuring the push button located at 10 o’clock, it shows plainly the desire of the latter.
A sensual short film on the wrist
Ulysse Nardin highlights Adam and Eve in motion… With the watch Hourstriker Erotica Garter, the brand unveils its sensual side. Famous for its ingenuity and daring side, the watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin continues to push his own limits after revealing a unique aspect of his personality: sensuality. Erotic scenes are a longstanding tradition in the watch industry. The Ulysse Nardin revolutionizes them by adding the movement Hourstriker well as jacquemarts. The dial of this limited edition of 28 pieces is in pink gold and platinum. Therefore, it reveals an ultimate story: a delicate miniature painting handmade in a Venetian romance setting. On a balcony in a traditional Venetian design, two lovers, a man and a woman, make love naked on a chair. Their silhouettes are golden handmade Jacquemarts that move to the rhythm of the ringing Hourstriker movement. At the bottom of the decor, one can see the famous Rialto Bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice, enhancing the love scene. At the foot of the chair, on the carpet, there is a pair of high heels and little more provocative female accessories: a garter. Seductress item, it can make the bravest of men’s head spin around. Led by the impressive Hourstriker mechanism, the clock strikes the hour on demand and thus drives the couple in passionate ripples setting the rhythm. Furthermore, Corum is not immune to this either aesthetic enchantment. It hinders and prohibits any code and is abstract and psychedelic naked.
The «leading expert» in erotic watches is Svend Anderson, who was born in Denmark in 1942, and who, after graduating from the Danish school of watchmaking, moved to Sweden in 1963. He worked for Gubelin and Patek Philippe for nine years, before founding his own studio in 1979. In addition to his inventions that met world records, he also does tailor-made erotic watches. His characters are inspired from hentai or Japanese prints or even drawings of ancient Greece. “It all started with an Italian customer who brought an old piece of that kind and wanted to create a similar bracelet model. The challenge was to achieve a slim mechanism. With the help of some specialist friends, we could be up to the challenge. Now I work on customized orders», he states.