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20th Anniversary
Trend - The Metaphor Watch

Trend The Metaphor Watch

When it comes to telling a story in a roundabout way, what more powerful rhetorical device could there be than the metaphor?

Semiotics is based on the idea that everything is a message. Seen thus, a watch can be a discourse, an explanation, a claim, or an allusion: in short, a form of storytelling. And when it comes to telling a story in a roundabout way, what more powerful and appropriate rhetorical device could there be than the metaphor? Fonderie 47 used steel from AK-47s retrieved from war zones to make watches, thus drawing attention to the proliferation of firearms. Romain Jerome produced many a dial with a sprinkling of moon dust, space capsule components, or steel recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, thus carving out a place for the brand within History itself. The succession of Horological Machines created by upstart brand MB&F offers no end of possible interpretations: allusions to Goldorak, the Lamborghini Miura, fighter plane engines, orbiters and spaceships, rockets, jellyfish, and more besides. Dreamlike expressivity, suffused with the exotic and firing the imagination, is its hallmark. Urwerk is mining a similar vein, enthusiastically producing watches with a decidedly otherworldly air.

La montre métaphore

Chronofighter Vintage GMT (2017) © Graham

The Metaphor Watch

EMC (2013) © Urwerk


Endless possibilities open up when inspiration takes the form of a tribute, with design expressed in terms that clearly reference the source universe. Respectively, Clerc’s Hydroscaph and Omega’s Ploprof really do resemble a diving chamber and a diving bell. To start its Chronofighter chronographs, Graham installed an actual trigger from a fighter plane’s joystick. Some brands have contented themselves with the merely outrageous, like Azimuth’s robot watch. But no world has proved to be as fertile – or as promising – as the world of cars. Rotors in the form of wheel rims vie for pole position with dials in the form of rev counters or chequered flags. Giuliano Mazzuoli went so far as to imitate a tyre pressure gauge. Hublot borrowed the shape of Ferrari’s monocoque cockpits for its Techframe series cases. In some instances, the engine’s appearance presides over the entire aesthetic appearance of the watch, as with Roger Dubuis, through the brand’s partnership with Lamborghini; in Chopard’s Engine Ones; and more especially at Richard Mille. Sometimes the metaphor becomes more literal still. The recent surge in meteorite dials signals the desire to look heavenwards – all the more effective when accompanied (as is often the case) by moon phases and other astronomical indications. When Antoine Preziuso decided to send its creations on a metaphorical interstellar journey (followed a few years later by De Bethune), it did so using solid chunks of meteorite to produce a case that was unique by definition, albeit virtually impossible to fashion. De Bethune added form to substance with the extreme streamlining – and tiny drag coefficient – of its Dream Watch 5 Meteorite. None of these designs, concepts, or attempts at storytelling were imaginable before the mid-Noughties.

La montre métaphore

Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph (2017) © Hublot

The Metaphor Watch

L.U.C. Engine One H (2013) © Chopard

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

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