Anthropomorphism is a common symptom among enthusiast of all kinds. As much as the rational elements of my brain know that my Oysterquartz is a lump of metal, the romantic in me can’t help but personify the watch.
This is a common theme and greatly explored in the car industry. When looking at the flaring nostrils of a BMW, the puppy grin of a Miata, or the intense stare of a Lamborghini, it is no wonder that owners lovingly bond to their vehicles.
Achieving such a connection with a watch is a slightly more difficult task. You can’t just simply draw a face on your watch (unless your name is Konstantin Chaykin). And at Baselworld 2017 I was in for a masterclass on how to make a watch feel alive by Emanuel Bouchet.
The Complication One feels alive from every angle you look at it. The case design looks perfectly normal from the front, but when moved you see new layers and curves like you won’t find anywhere else. These angles allow this 44 mm watch to be worn comfortably even for people with thin forearms like myself. This is mainly achieved through the lugs which do an excellent job at curving around your wrist. Further, the decision to make full use of the available real estate results in a less bulky design as the crystal stretches to the edges of the case. A big crystal with a curvature creates the illusion of a magnifying glass, inviting you to explore a world of mechanical prowess.
The movement is where things get really interesting. Here it has to be stated that while this is Bouchet’s first watch, he is in no way new to the industry. Born into a watchmaking family, and most recently creating the Opus 12 for Harry Winston expectations were high. Suffice to say that these were met, and the Complication One stands as a benchmark for horological architecture in the 21st Century.
A unique sense of depth is created by the finishing and the different layers of dials on an onyx background. This is fused with engaging see-through mechanics which pop as soon as you put the watch on an angle in sunlight.
I was presented with two variations of the Complication One. The first was a titanium version with a black ADLC treatment and a slightly translucent white onyx dial. The second model was one covered all over in diamonds (yes, even on the back, a world first by the way). Interestingly this was the only watch at Baselworld I saw where I preferred the diamond version over a non-diamond version. This is because usually, diamonds feel like an afterthought to squeeze some extra money out of your rapper customer base rather than a careful addition to round off a timepiece. In this case, I had a strong feeling that the latter was the case. This was done by careful selection of where the diamonds are to be placed, not distracting from the watch but rather focusing attention on it.
The Emanuel Bouchet Complication One is an awesome watch. While a bit big for my personal taste it is easy to forgive when looking at how they used this space. Prices starting at around $100,000 this is definitely not a watch for everyone, but for those who are tempted by this offer you will get 44 millimetres of world class architectural watchmaking.