he art of time cannot escape this sine qua non of our existence. And since the dawn of horology, it has reminded us of it. One of the most famous examples is the watch in the shape of a skull that Mary Stuart, haunted by death, ordered in 1560, a time of religious wars, from the watchmaker Moyse of Blois. She wore it on a chain around her neck. But not for long, because in 1587, she was decapitated on the orders of Elizabeth I.
- Mary Stuart’s watch
Today, what was then a metaphysical reminder has turned into a marketing device. But one so prolific and successful that it gives pause for thought.
Today, what was then a metaphysical reminder has turned into a marketing device. But one so prolific and successful that it gives pause for thought. Is our troubled time so obsessed with death that we secretly try to conjure it by displaying it so systematically on our wrists?
- BELL & ROSS BR 01 LAUGHING SKULL
- Bell & Ross has produced variations on the skull since 2009 and recently took its sneering sardonicism one step further with its BR 01 Laughing Skull. The watch has an automaton mechanism built into the new BR-CAL 206 cranium-shaped movement, the four bridges of which support the crossbones beneath the skull. When you wind it, the jaws of the skull begin to move and death bursts into (silent) laughter, reminding us of the vanity of our existence. From 5,000 to 10,000$
- FIONA KRÜGER CELEBRATION SKULL
- Fiona Krüger is the grand priestess of skull watches, the aesthetics of which she has done much to develop with her watch cases that take the shape of a skull itself. Celebration Skull’s decorative 3-layer dial and case are hand-painted with coloured lacquer and Superluminova. Each colour used in the design of the watch has a specific meaning pertaining to the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos celebration (she was born in Mexico), while the Superluminova outline glows in the dark to reveal an iconic skull symbol. From 20,000 to 50,000$
- CLVII TIMEPIECES SKULL
- No one could call this watch beautiful, but is Death beautiful? Somewhat gross and more than a little rock ‘n roll in style, it displays the hours, minutes and seconds through three discs appearing in the aperture above its sunglasses (Death not being keen on light). Equipped with a Seiko Epson automatic movement and mounted on a leather strap that looks as if it came straight out of a mouldering catacomb, this funky take on mortality is affordable, if not presentable. From 1,000 to 3,000$
- HYT SKULL 48.8
- In the HYT Skull 48.8, everything serves to remind us that life is short and we should make the most of every moment. Is it more a symbol of life than of death? Just like the fluids which, driven by two flexible reservoirs, progress through the capillary to mark the passage of time, without liquid, there is no life! And no time either: time-keeping was born with the first water clocks, more than three millennia ago. A water clock 21st century-style, HYT is thus an instrument of philosophy. All the more so when it displays a skull with hollowed eye sockets. From 50,000 to 100,000$
- L’EPÉE 1839 VANITAS
- Designed in collaboration with Fiona Krüger, manufactured and assembled by L’Epée 1839, a Swiss manufacture specialising in high-end clocks, this skull-shaped clock is a reminder that we should take advantage of every second of our existence. The hours and minutes are shown by the two hands, and a power reserve indicator is integrated into the mouth of the skull. When it runs out of power, it starts to yawn, showing that it needs rewinding. With a power reserve of 35 days, this monthly ritual is time to stop for a moment and make the most of the present. From 20,000 to 50,000$
- CORUM COIN WATCH
- For Corum, Aleksey Saburov, a Russian engraver now living in New York, diverts popular imagery to create watchmaking works of art from authentic American 5-cent pieces in nickel dating from the early twentieth century, known as “hobo coins”. These impoverished vagrants used to hand-engrave these modest coins in the hope of selling them at a price higher than their face value. The theme of death – hence the skull, surrounded here by snakes – was a natural choice, given their extremely vulnerable living conditions. Today, “hobo coins” have become a luxury. But death is still the same. From 20,000 to 50,000$
- ARTYA MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON “DEATH IS CALLING”
- A real punk among watchmakers, Yvan Arpa, the founder of Artya, loves provocation. He has a black belt in karate, has played Russian roulette and juggled with sticks of dynamite, and today presents a unique, complicated and extremely Gothic piece, “Death is Calling”. Each time it chimes, it tells us in no uncertain terms that time is passing and will one day end. From 200,000 to 500,000$
- ALEXANDER SHOROKHOFF LOS CRANEOS
- Dedicated to Frida Kahlo, who had a spectacular but dramatic life full of pain and passion, “Los Craneos“ is made as a doubletime watch in order to illustrate the situation of Frida Kahlo hovering between life and death, a situation that was normal to her. She nevertheless continued to paint and create her world famous artworks. Powered by two different movements, on one time zone is the calendar, on the other time zone is a central second hand. The artists also lived in two time zones - real life proceeded normally, while her working hours seemed to fly by with the speed of light. Death was always near. From 1,000 to 3000$
All mentioned prices are indicative and correspond to price segment.
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Europa Star Watch Curator ’18 is a selection of 147 watches classified under 13 specific trends:
Tourbillons - Globes - Sun, Moon & Stars - Purity - Open-worked - Skulls - Sport - Tough - New displays - Barocco - Vintage & Neo-vintage - Connected - Calibres.