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Trilobe  - La Réciproque

Trilobe La Réciproque

Some collaborations are unexpected; others are very surprising. Trilobe and Daniel Buren have worked together to create a genuine work of art for Only Watch. What’s even more exciting is that it could potentially rise quite considerably in value

Epithets like “masterpiece” or “work of art” are often overused in the watchmaking world. They are words that ought to be used to designate unique timepieces created by recognised artists. And for once, the expressions are entirely appropriate for the creation presented by Trilobe for Only Watch. “La Réciproque” is a clock designed by Trilobe in collaboration with painter, sculptor and visual artist Daniel Buren, which embodies their shared vision of time and architecture.

Role reversal

At first glance, it’s tempting to attribute the “time” component to Trilobe and the “architecture” part to Buren. But that wouldn’t be entirely correct. Architecture is an integral part of Trilobe’s DNA, with its motifs inspired by the rose window of the Sainte-Chapelle, its exquisitely designed X-Centric movement, and the implicit influence of brand founder Gauthier Massonneau’s parents – an architect and an interior designer.

La Réciproque

Portrait of Daniel Buren © Trilobe

On the other side of the equation, there is no doubt that Buren’s work – like that of any artist – takes a long view of the passage of time. Paintings or sculptures are intended to last for centuries. But Buren’s work is atypical in that it exists as part of another work of art – a mise en abyme, art within art, as in his famous columns in the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais Royal in Paris.

8.7 centimetres

But merely stating that Trilobe and Buren are a perfect match doesn’t explain why they work together so well. The 83-year-old artist very rarely collaborates with other people. Hermès and Vuitton are virtually the only exceptions, in a career that has spanned more than five decades. And those were not horological products. Buren is very careful about his image, as well as about proportions and geometry. He doesn’t normally work at a scale as small as a watch.

La Réciproque

Sketches of Daniel Buren © Trilobe

“Indeed, he immediately shut down the idea of creating a watch!” explains Volcy Bloch of Trilobe. “He said he would think about our collaboration, but warned us we’d have to wait at least six months for a response. The problem was that, with the Only Watch sale scheduled for November, we didn’t have six months! We called him after four months. He’d just come up with an initial idea. He is an extremely rigorous artist. He explained to us that his stripes could not be any less than 8.7 cm wide, which immediately closed the door to the idea of a watch. So that’s when we came up with the idea of designing a clock.”

From X to D

And designing was what had to be done. It proved impossible to translate the Trilobe X-Centric movement into the proportions of a clock. So Gauthier Massonneau and watchmaker Nicolas Court (Sainte-Croix) got to work. The proportions were revised and the finishes modified. “La Réciproque”, the name chosen for the clock, was handed over to Daniel Buren complete with its own movement, the D-Centric. Buren was on board, but he had one final suggestion: “When we went to show him the clock he thought the movement was a bit dull. He said to us: ‘Why not make the movement red, like a beating heart?’.”

La Réciproque

La Réciproque seen by Daniel Buren © Trilobe

A rare opportunity

So that’s how this collaborative and intelligent piece was born, its development followed to the very last minute by Daniel Buren, who added his own personal touch. In keeping with the conditions of Only Watch, this is a unique piece. Given Buren’s status, the clock is expected to far exceed its preliminary estimate of 35,000 dollars. Buren is one of France’s most sought-after contemporary artists, on a par with Pierre Soulages. Discerning collectors will certainly not want to pass up this opportunity. Indeed, some of them have already expressed an interest.


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An audacious idea born out of a desire to break from the traditional watchmaking codes. A new way of reading time. Poetry on the wrist, an intimate link to time. Trilobe is all of those things, and so much more.

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