When I saw one watch brand using concrete (and not in a let’s-sink-this-idea kind of way) I raised a mental eyebrow and moved on. When I read about Girard Perregaux using concrete, I sat down for a minute and wondered whether this was the beginning of some highly unexpected micro-trend, or just a bizarre coincidence.
I guess it remains to be seen whether they are just a lone duo in the watch wilderness, but the unexpectedness of it all meant that I thought that I should share, presuming that you have not come across them already. These are two brands that are clearly quite far apart on the horological spectrum, yet a combination of cement and water have brought them together, so to speak.
The first to come to my notice was the brand Dzmitry Samal, who has taken a self-described architectural slant to designing colourful and strongly geometric watches with cases and dials made of concrete. Why concrete? He believes it to be an honest and robust material to work with, and that they represent the urban landscape.
The watches come in two bullhead case designs, both 42mm, with the inner part of the case in stainless steel. They feature raised bezels and are water resistant to 50m. These are fashion watches, and the movement seems to be of little consequence to the designer (they’re quartz). However, it’s a chronograph movement but, for some reason, the chronograph function isn’t all clearly indicated on the dial, and with no indices, not terribly functional.
Limited to 100 pieces each, they come in eight designs that are inspired by maps, buildings and blueprints. They are available only through pre-order, with an estimated delivery time of late November 2012. They are priced between 980-1240 Euros and some designs have already sold out.
The concrete and architecture theme continues with the second offering, from the rather different house of Girard-Perregaux. To commemorate Le Corbusier, born in Girard-Perreguax’s home town of Le Chaux-d-Fond as Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, they have created a trio of watches in the square Vintage 1945 case.
Each of the three watches will be limited to five pieces, and one of the trio has a concrete dial – the Le Corbusier Vintage 1945 Marseilles. It is inspired by the twelve story Cité Radieuse (Radiant City) project in Marseille that was one of his most significant buildings, constructed from rough-case reinforced concrete and housing 1,600 residents. Girard-Perregaux say that the dial requires three days to pour, dry and hand finish. It is a 36.20 x 35.25mm stainless steel case and contains the automatic GP3300-0078 calibre with a forty six hour power reserve and will cost $31,900.
The other two watches in the trio are the Le Corbusier La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Corbusier Paris, featuring a dial inlaid with mother of pearl and a hand engraved steel dial, respectively. In return for the rights to reproduce Le Corbusier’s designs, Girard-Perregaux have made a donation to the Fondation Le Corbusier to help restore Villa Le Lac in Corseaux, Switzerland, and to the Association Maison Blanche for the ongoing preservation and maintenance of the Maison Jeanneret-Perret in La-Chaux-de-Fonds.
So … concrete in watches – an idea worth keeping, or sinking?