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Merci: The trendy Paris watchmakers

TRAVEL NOTES 🇫🇷 PARIS

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July 2018


MERCI PARIS and the president's Macron watch LMM-01: interview with the co-director Arthur Gerbi

The LMM-01 designed by Paris boutique Merci soon gained an illustrious customer – the president of France, Emmanuel Macron. No doubt he saw something of himself in the brand – the Parisian spirit combined with global aspirations; an uninhibited, reforming personality with an ultra-classical exterior. We met the co-director of Merci, Arthur Gerbi.

T

he LMM-01 made its name when it appeared on the wrist of French president Emmanuel Macron: “One day, a collector sent us a photo of a watch that looked like ours, spotted on the president’s wrist,” recalls Arthur Gerbi, co-director of the Paris fashion brand, Merci. We checked, and it really was our watch. What makes me happy is that even one of the most powerful men in the world takes the time to wind one of our watches in the morning!”

Because the LMM-01timepiece designed by the boutique located at 111 boulevard Beaumarchais is a manual-wound watch. “We like this kind of daily ritual,” says Arthur Gerbi. The mechanical model costs 399 euros and the quartz 230 euros. Very simple in design, the watch comes with a Swiss movement in an original box made in Japan and accompanied with a booklet full of anecdotes. No doubt the very cosmopolitan young president saw something of himself in it: the Parisian spirit mixed with materials from all over the world!

The watch by the everyday object shop
The watch by the everyday object shop
©Rambler

La montre du «magasin du quotidien»

Yet Merci had no prior watchmaking experience before designing the LMM-01. Why did it design watches? “We sell everyday objects,” replies Arthur Gerbi. “And what is more ‘everyday’ than a watch? People often have a very special, intimate relationship with their watch. We also wanted to adopt a completely opposite position to what was happing with smart watches.” In the face of strong demand and the president’s “publicity stunt” (although since then we’ve seen other timepieces on his wrist), they have relaunched production.

LMM-01 Mechanical movement, leather strap
LMM-01 Mechanical movement, leather strap

Founded in 2009 by Marie-France Cohen, Merci is known first and foremost as a successful, iconoclastic, must-visit Paris boutique devoted to fashion, lifestyle, homeware and furniture. Rather like the recently closed-down Colette. “We offer modern, urban lifestyle objects, whether fashion, furnishings or – watches, at the moment,” underscores Arthur Gerbi. “Our aim is to make everyday life more beautiful. For us, it’s essential to differentiate between ‘objective’ luxury and ‘subjective’ luxury. We don’t offer an imposed kind of luxury, a total ‘look’, but an experience.

We love the accidental, the eclectic, imperfection!”

LMM-01 Mechanical movement, NATO strap
LMM-01 Mechanical movement, NATO strap

Halfway between art and object

An exhibition is organised every month at the brand’s Paris boutique, which is bathed in natural light. Just like the spirit of the place, the themes are surprising. Recently, the boutique held a series of discovery events: La Nouvelle Table (The New Table), which explored our relationship with food by cheerfully breaking all our culinary codes; Mettre la main au feu (Putting your hand in the fire), which expressed exasperation (in handcrafted ceramics) with industrial standardisation; Imparfait (Imperfect), a no-frills exhibition of random bent, worn and patched-up objects; and Merci en rose (Thank you in pink), aimed at escaping the wintery greyness of Fashion Week.

Merci: The trendy Paris watchmakers
©doitinparis.com

Although regularly solicited to open other boutiques around the world, Merci, which employs around one hundred people, has not yet given way to the sirens of expansion. “Occasionally we do pop-up stores, but for me it’s a powerful feeling to have one single outlet worldwide for our family company.” But the young boss of what is probably the trendiest boutique in Paris has doubts about how watches are currently sold by the industry:

“Most watch boutiques are very solemn places. That’s not what the new generation is looking for.”

A word to the wise …!