I love watches. I love Art Deco. Combining these two passions led me to launch the BREMOIR Lexington a couple months ago.
When the idea of designing a watch that honored the Art Deco movement began to percolate, I was acutely aware that a direct appropriation of those aesthetic principles might yield a beautiful result, but it wouldn’t be original. I certainly wouldn’t be able to better some of the gorgeous timepieces of the day. Therefore, it couldn’t truly claim to capture the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties since that time was crucially concerned with the exploration of new things, the collision of powerful unrelated forces and the smashing of convention.
The first time I went to 405 Lexington Ave and approached the grand entryway of the Chrysler Building, I was mesmerized. The ornate metalwork and geometric shapes and the sheer size of it created such a sense of drama. I slowly started to realize that even though a wristwatch and building have very little in common, the latter could perhaps nourish this embryonic idea that I could design a watch based on that period, but for the here and now.
Buildings these days, especially in New York, are usually concerned with the function – the price per square foot and location. This place was different; the heavy emphasis on form both within and outside the building, in terms of impact on the soul and senses, meant it elevated itself above the taller skyscrapers around it. The fact that it remains one of the most recognizable and adored buildings of the NYC skyline suggests that perhaps we haven’t lost our need for art, and indeed the Art Deco aesthetic.
It is the architectural details that eventually inspired so many design features of the Lexington watch. The illumination at night could be captured via the Swiss Super-Luminova applied around the triangular tips of the hour markers, the intricate metalwork above the entrances led to “doorway” minute markers and the hour markers owe their shape to the prominent triangles of the building’s spire. These are by their nature, superficial design elements that wouldn’t have pushed me so far down the path as to launch a watch brand. There was something deeper at play that turned this from idle musings into a more serious financial, emotional and time-consuming commitment.
Standing outside the building, I felt the history of it before I read about it. It seemed like an important place where big things were done by ambitious people. As I learned about the innovative construction techniques, from elevators to importing Moroccan marble, I wanted to find out more about the man who financed it and gave it his name. What drove this Midwestern railway mechanic from humble beginnings to eventually become Time magazine’s Man of The Year in 1927?
A clue is offered in this Popular Mechanics:
Walter Chrysler was just one of the go-getting, mold breaking, ceiling shattering, work-till-you-drop visionaries of the Art Deco period that are still remembered today. He knew his business, had the courage of his convictions and took his opportunity - a manifestation of the American dream. Excited by endless possibilities of the automobile, and curious about what it could mean for America, he took risks to scratch that entrepreneurial itch.
I think both myself and my watch company, owe just as much to Chrysler the man as Chrysler the building. Without his inspirational story, the BREMOIR Lexington would not be on sale now. Looking back, I wanted to turn my passion into a reality. That’s what people did back then, and we can do the same now.