March 22 2011
When one of the coolest, most fashion-forward brands on the planet designs its first watch, you would not expect it to produce something conventional. Balenciaga’s model does not disappoint. When it first appeared at the spring catwalk show, it looked more like a tough, modernist cuff, the bright colours echoing the pops of brilliance that enlivened the predominantly monochrome collection.
Close up, the watch is even more intriguing. It is a cuff, but clamped across it with four big screws is a rectangular slice of metal, in the centre of which is a dial disclosing at any one time only two “hour numbers” and 30 minutes. The hours circulate on the outside disc in Roman numerals, the minutes inside in Arabic numbers; line them up and you have the time.
Designer Nicolas Ghesquière and his team say they based the design on the clock that Cristobal Balenciaga owned and used in his salon on the Avenue George V in Paris, but Ghesquière has done it in the same oblique, thoroughly modern way that he treats the master’s archived clothes designs for inspiration.
The watch is made in Switzerland, has a quartz movement and is finished in black PVD coating or gold plate, costing £1,025 or £1,240, depending on the bracelet fabric. Just 1,000 are being made, most with the cuff in neutral leather shades such as tan, black or white. But online high-fashion brand My Theresa now has the catwalk originals in bright red or yellow python (pictured), all individually numbered from one to 50 (from £1,025). These are set to become collector’s pieces.