Arije Arije’s eerie Paris
For Hallowe’en, the Parisian retailer takes us on a tour of some of the capital’s spookier sights. All for the love of watches
The City of Light has its dark secrets and when better than Hallowe’en to uncover the spine-tingling stories and hidden corners of a capital that has witnessed witch hunts and revolution. Before you embark on your nocturnal adventures, make sure to stop by Arije at Rue pierre Charron 50 or Place du Québec 5 to pick up a trusty horological companion.
By day the catacombs’ skull-lined paths are open to tourists with a strong stomach. By night they are home to off-limits excursions that involve crawling by torchlight through narrow tunnels and piles of discarded bones. For decades, hand-sketched maps have secretly circulated through word of mouth.
Catacombs of Paris © Paris Musées
These nocturnal explorations remain relatively risky: a number of hapless (and disoriented) visitors have spent much, much longer underground than planned... Light is key to finding one’s way through this maze of tunnels. Laurent Picciotto already took the H4 Metropolis on a tour of Paris by night, as you can see here. Alternatively, a few months ago Bovet introduced a Virtuoso VIII whose dials, courtesy of a Super-LumiNova treatment, suffuse a soft halo of light that will guide you through the catacombs’ half-darkness, safely back to the surface.
Virtuoso VIII Chapter 2 © Bovet 1822
Heads will roll
Today’s light-filled Place de la Concorde attracts thousands of tourists who marvel at its obelisk, its ornate candelabra lampposts and the majestic architecture of the Hôtel de Crillon and the Hôtel de la Marine. However, this world-famous landmark has a darker past, from the time when it was called Place de la Révolution and its main “attraction” was the guillotine. Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Danton were among the hundreds who were executed here. Should they, or any of the guillotine’s other victims, come back to haunt the place of their demise (the scaffold stood where the square joins the Champs-Élysées), an entirely black watch will help you blend into the night. With its black case, black strap and, best of all, black and skeleton (what else) movement, the Hublot Big Bang Integral is the perfect choice for Hallowe’en.
Big Bang Integral © Hublot
Meeting a master
Fortunately, not all of the Ancien Régime’s prominent personalities felt the cold caress of the guillotine’s blade. Abraham-Louis Breguet passed away peacefully at the venerable (for the early 1800s) age of 76. While his name is still celebrated in contemporary watchmaking, his life story is perhaps less well-known. And who better than the master to tell it? Abraham-Louis Breguet is buried in Père-Lachaise cemetery. A wander among the tombstones on a murky Hallowe’en night could result in a ghostly encounter with the man himself, who would doubtless be delighted to discover one of the timepieces that carry on his name. The ingenious Marine Équation Marchante, which combines his tourbillon with a perpetual calendar and an equation of time, would surely win his approval.
Marine Équation Marchante © Breguet
History doesn’t reside only in the distant reaches of time. More recent conflicts have left their mark, and memories, on Paris. For example, the secret bunker/air raid shelter underneath Gare de l’Est railway station. Millions of passengers traipse over it each year without a thought for its former occupants. This subterranean chamber is reached through a locked trapdoor on one of the station platforms.
Shelter, Gare de l’Est Railway Station © Monsieur Kurtis
One way to appease the spirits that might come floating up through the tracks on Hallowe’en would be to wear a military timepiece. The new Omega Speedmaster Chronoscope is a tribute to 1940s Omegas. It features a telemeter – once used to estimate bombing intervals – and a pulsometer for measuring the heart rate of the sick and injured on the battlefield. The ideal timepiece when venturing down into a Second World War bunker one Hallowe’en night...
Speedmaster Chronoscope © Omega
Of course, watchmaking has evolved and there are more modern ways to measure your heart rate come Hallowe’en. The best place in Paris to get your blood pumping this October 31st could be a visit to the city’s last authentic cabinet of curiosities, on the edge of the historic Saint-Germain-des-Prés district.
Cabinet of Curiosities © Wassila Djellouli
As dusk creeps over the city, prepare to encounter the mysterious forms of taxidermied animals, stomach-churning anatomical drawings and other peculiarities. As stress levels mount, the new Vitality by Frederique Constant is the ultimate instrument for keeping track of a pounding heart in real time. And so as not to stir any of these weird and wonderful creatures, your heart rate is displayed only on demand, in the latest version with an entirely black livery.
Smart Watch Vitality © Frederique Constant
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