The Top of the Tree

June 2016

When it comes to women’s timepieces that embody the juxtaposition of art, craftsmanship, storytelling and design, a few stand out on top.

Baselworld was an explosion of novelties and designs, some exciting others less so. Down to taste, perhaps.

If the task was to select women’s watch pieces that embody the juxtaposition of art, craftsmanship, storytelling and design, which would make it to the top of the tree?

Firstly, it is the Tree of Life watch by Kerbedanz, for me. Depending on your religious and spiritual inclinations, Tree of Life may have a slightly different meaning to you. Inherently present in both Eastern and Western myths, it is safe to say this mystical concept represents the interconnectedness of all life and forms of creation. The tree in the Kerbedanz watch, a symbol of spiritual and personal growth, reveals a somewhat inwards motion, neither straight nor inverted.

Tree of Life watch by Kerbedanz
Tree of Life watch by Kerbedanz

Rather introverted and humble, this hand-sculpted gold tree adorns the green enamelled dial and is framed by a round case entirely set with green emeralds. It bares fruit, not the forbidden ones but the exquisite type, diamond chatons exquisitely embedded into the gold and enamel.

Thankfully, there is nothing humble about the craftsmanship. It is exquisitely meticulous and over the top; even the original Technotime base has been punctiliously decorated to match the rest of the design. In both Eastern and Western mythology, the Tree of Life is often reversed. This reversal is explained with the role sunlight in its growth. The light of life comes from above and penetrates down, meaning the branches are the root of life. Even Dante talks about the tree which ‘lives from its top’. If it lives from its top, it must be top of the tree?

Cedar Necklace by Alessio Boschi
Cedar Necklace by Alessio Boschi

Secondly, I was charmed by the Cedar Necklace by Alessio Boschi. Aiming to show the entire growth cycle of the cedar, the small closed cones are made of gold, and large one of spessartine in the technique of engraving, already opened, like a rose gold with cognac diamonds. Pine needles imitate the Afghan emeralds briolette. If this was not enough cross-cultural for you, Boschi has inserted LED lights top top it all. Top of the Christmas tree?

Thirdly, CHANEL’s flying birds gave me butterflies in the stomach. Mademoiselle Privé collection undoubtedly adds another chapter to Chanel’s creative history, opening the door to the intimate world of Gabrielle Chanel and the most cherished objects she surrounded herself with. Done by the hands of the finest master artisans it uncovers new grounds for expressing the know-how of the Métiers d’Art craftsmanship used in fine watchmaking and high jewellery. They used the sculpted gold technique to sublimate the scenes on onyx dials. Gold is shaped, engraved and oxidized to provide the natural appearance to the birds, flowers and tree motifs.

Mademoiselle Privé Collection by Chanel
Mademoiselle Privé Collection by Chanel

With its infinite lightness, CHANEL birds, flowers and branches, inspired by the famous Coromandel lacquer panels, appear quite naturally relaxed, composing the scene of the dial. Birds sit on a tree branch yet with each movement of the wrist, they will tremble and fly away. This simple pleasure takes three weeks to engrave the elements, fix the bird and test the bird trembler spring, for each dial. These are not just birds sitting on a tree. They are top of the tree birds, free to fly away. “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on it’s wings.”

Looking at the embroidery in Dolce & Gabbana’s SERA collection 2016 one almost gets a feeling that CHANEL artisans secretly escaped the CHANEL castle at night and met and conspired with textile designers to create matching designs. Or it may be a case of great minds create alike?