Elegance Through the looking-glass of elegance
Elegance. It used to rhyme with suit and tie, leather briefcase and formal shoes. Like many others, its definition has been profoundly updated. The same goes for elegant watches, whose parameters have been blown to bits
Like everything fashion-related, elegance keeps changing as time, trends, codes and society move on. The inner strength of that particular style stems from its flexibility. It's meant to bend, shift and most of all to be taken hold of by trailblazers. Fashion history is filled with such appropriations, which are the best thing that can happen. From mannerism to plain irony, dandys from all walks of life, from Italy to Zaire by way of England have spiced those tame garments up with their own flavors, colours, and daring moves.
What about timepieces ? Well, the move has been similar, although in a less conspicuous manner. The classical, three-hands, gold, under-the-radar timepiece is the root of all things elegant in watchmaking. Fortunately, a lot of creators have laid their inventive, idiosyncratic and sometimes crazy hands on it.
This explains how a watch as odd as the Golden Ellipse from Patek Philippe has endured. It was a perfect fit for the 1970's, but today ? Thanks to its impeccable sense of proportion, the ref. 5738 has made it eternal, just like a Neapolitan shoulder.
Patek Philippe Ellipse d'Or ref. 5738 © David Chokron/WorldTempus
This is where the basic design rules come in. They're the ones allowing clean lines to stand out even though they belong outside the conventional aesthetic vocabulary. And it is exactly what H.Moser & Cie. has succeeded in doing with the Streamliner Centre Seconds.
H.Moser & Cie Streamliner Centre Seconds © David Chokron/WorldTempus
A slimmer execution can make the best of the heavily connoted cushion shape. A brand like Panerai, known for its sporty, oversize pieces, can pull off elegance when it sheds a few millimeters wide and thick. Such is the recipe for the Luminor Due 38 mm, a perfect date for a cachemire sports jacket, especially with a very smart sunray dial.
Panerai Luminor Due 38 mm © David Chokron/WorldTempus
That being said, you can't miss when you do less. That' how the Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale has pushed beyond its armed forces legacy and has become a posterchild for lean, clean lines. Its diminutive 38.5mm case sure does help, even though the watch remains truly military in spirit.
Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Its easy to confuse uncluttered with elegant, but ornamentation goes hand in hand with a formal, sophisticated appearance.
Bovet Virtuoso V © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Infinity Edition © David Chokron/WorldTempus
That specific style has been shaken up by outside-the-box patterns like the fleurisanne engraving on one side of Bovet's Virtuoso V or the gold studs on DeBethune's DB25 Starry Varius. And of course, the exact opposite is just as true : an immaculate, mirror-like, black onyx surface makes the Laureato Infinity Edition so very chic.
DeBethune DB25 Starry Varius © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Another way to achieve unusual elegance is to shift, litterally. By rotating the movement (and display) of its Grande Seconde Off-centered Chronograph, Jaquet Droz delves into the very British chic of eccentricity.
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Décentrée Chronographe © David Chokron/Worldtempus
On another note, it must be stated that some people will always manage to have allure : Vacheron Constatin manages to pull of impeccable taste with a watch bearing the ugly name of Cornes de Vache (cow horns) !
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 © David Chokron/WorldTempus
Even elegant timepieces answering to the 1950's elegance pattern can surprise us and take us outside the beaten track. In 1965, the King Seiko wasn't sold outside of Japan. As it is being reissued, it becomes a reminder that being chic in 2021 with a Japanese Mechanical watch is indeed original.
Seiko King Seiko © David Chokron/WorldTempus
The Bovet Manufacture upholds the tradition of decorative arts applied to its delicately engraved, chased, enamelled, engine-turned or hand-painted cases, dials and movements, thus passing on the...Find out more >
De Bethune embraces the wealth of the watchmaking knowhow of the past in order to design the watches of the future. This combination results in timepieces with all the attributes and technical...Find out more >
Ever since 1791, Girard-Perregaux has been pursuing its course in the best tradition of Fine Watchmaking. The Maison’s history has been characterised by legendary timepieces that combine...Find out more >
H. Moser & Cie. was created by Heinrich Moser in 1828. Based in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, it currently employs around 60 people, has developed 14 in-house calibres to date, and produces more than...Find out more >
An elegant, outward-looking philosophy that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment is still at the heart of Jaquet Droz's identity. The fine and rare handcrafts practiced at the company’s workshops...Find out more >
Based in St. Imier since 1832, Longines has a long tradition in watchmaking, characterised by the elegance of its watches. Using expertise gained as the company has evolved, Longines has gradually...Find out more >
Every Panerai watch is as unique as the story it tells. Since 1860 Panerai has produced high-precision instruments and watches, developed and created to meet the most rigorous military standards....Find out more >
Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.Find out more >
The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that...Find out more >
An exploration of the history of Vacheron Constantin is a voyage of discovery, revealing the excellence of age-old watchmaking. Each timepiece is the result of the creative inspiration of the...Find out more >