From his unsung beginnings developing complicated movements for leading names in Swiss watchmaking, Christophe Claret has transformed his company into a full-fledged brand, and while he continues his original line of business, the main of his activity is now taken up by the watches he develops under his own name. A consequence of this, and particularly in more difficult periods such as today, has been a necessary diversification of his clientele and to extend his price range, in this instance downwards. Naturally, all of this takes place within the confines of Haute Horlogerie, Claret’s playground since day one. This objective has devolved on Marguerite, the second ladies’ watch from the brand. Is it mission accomplished? The characteristics of this recent reveal would suggest so, with one quibble nonetheless…
"He loves me…"
Paradoxically, Marguerite isn’t fitted with an in-house movement. Instead, Christophe Claret went shopping at Blancpain, although the twin-barrelled automatic calibre in question has been extensively personalised, in particular for the oscillating weight and the module that operates the dual dial display. These choices were, of course, dictated by cost, as Claret explains: “We got a huge response to Margot last year, all positive. To be honest, I hadn’t expected such a welcome. However, a lot of the people we spoke to admitted that while they loved the watch, it wasn’t necessarily within their means. This set us thinking about a new women’s watch at a more affordable price, between CHF 50,000 and CHF 100,000. There is no way we could have designed an original movement in this price range.”
Mechanically speaking, despite this still “handsome” movement, the Marguerite of 2015 has nothing in common with Margot, launched in 2014 with a genuine miniature automaton tucked inside its case. Similarities are to be found on the dial instead, in the daisy whose petals make one rotation an hour. Its centre is crowned with a precious stone, either a ruby or a sapphire depending on the version. Two delightful butterflies flutter around the dial, at the tip of the petals. The darker butterfly, which is fused to the petal, is the female. She turns with the flower and so indicates the hours. The lighter one, which is the male, is attached by a stem to the setting of the central stone and shows the minutes. These two lacquered lepidopterans, each finished with SuperLuminova, bring originality and poetry that continue in the two overlapping dials. Pressing the pusher at 2 o’clock reveals either the Arabic numerals 3, 6 and 9, or a loving reminder that Il m’aime passionnément (“he loves me passionately”). This romantic phrase, which is inscribed in French, can be adapted in other languages.
Two original gem settings
This almost magical optical illusion is achieved using simple yet subtle means. It is, in fact, an interpretation of a card trick by the name of Wow (anyone interested will find no end of demonstrations on YouTube). This is how it works in the Marguerite watch: the Arabic numerals and message are transferred onto the bottom non-moving disc in white mother-of-pearl, as a mosaic of tiny squares. The upper rotating disc in transparent sapphire is also printed with a mosaic pattern. The superposition of squares produced when the top disc is moved reveals one or other of the displays. As for the case, it is crafted in a choice of pink gold or white gold and embellished with stones set in either of two ways, neither of which is common in watchmaking. The first, known as a “flake” setting, is a variation on the snow setting. Diamonds appear to have been scattered at random on the bezel and lugs, like frozen crystals falling from a winter sky. The second setting, dubbed “champagne”, suggests the bubbles that cluster at the bottom of a champagne flute, evaporating as they rise to the top.
It would be wrong to think of Marguerite as rather too whimsical, and just that little bit kitsch. Even the loveliest photos do not do justice to these watches, which are a credit to the work Christophe Claret has accomplished in fine watchmaking for the past twenty years and more.