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The new faces of watchmaking

The new faces of watchmaking

Friday, 10 July 2020
Editor Image
Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon
Freelance journalist

“One must be absolutely modern.”

Arthur Rimbaud

It takes passion, a healthy dose of curiosity and a sense of wonderment to convey the innumerable facets of watchmaking…

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6 min read

A freediving champion, an explorer and film-maker, a Haute Couture designer, surfers, skippers, actors… brands choose them not for who they are but for what they do. Introducing the new faces of watchmaking.

They have different “titles” but their role is the same. Friends, Ambassadors, Talents or Heroes, they embody a style, a way of life and values. The brand has a message and it’s their job to deliver it. The idea isn’t new. TAG Heuer was one of the first in the watch industry, after Steve McQueen put the Monaco on the road to stardom in the 1970s when he wore it on-screen and on the racetrack in Le Mans. From the King of Cool to the icons of today, a multitude of faces have come and gone, each representing a particular facet of the brand. Athletes, surfers, actors, models or racing drivers, they are determined to push their limits and be the best they can. Staying with motor sports, actor and driver Patrick Dempsey ranks among the brand’s most loyal friends, alongside Jean-Eric Vergne, among others. In tennis, Petra Kvitova and Denis Shapovalov serve and volley. In the lifestyle department, Chris Hemsworth cuts a charismatic figure. Best known for his role as Thor in the Marvel franchise, the actor is a huge fan of motor racing. McQueen would have approved…

Fast and furious

Whatever their profession – athlete, actor, model or explorer – the most important thing is to choose an individual who fits the brand’s image. Panerai’s new ambassadors or Heroes aren’t pretty faces in a glossy magazine. They are very much a part of the global experience which the Italian firm offers its most ardent fans – the Paneristi – who can expect a heavy dose of adrenaline, adventure and testosterone. Learn to master your fear with film-maker and professional climber Jimmy Chin, chat live with freediving champion Guillaume Néry or go behind the scenes of a training session with champion swimmer Gregorio Paltriniri – just some of the episodes to follow on Instagram alongside these modern-day Heroes. Not forgetting the real-life experiences tied in with certain limited editions. The latest to date, for the five buyers of the Submersible EcoPangaea™ Tourbillon GMT – 50mm Mike Horn Edition (PAM01108), is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the great explorer on an Arctic expedition.

Jimmy Chin © Panerai
Jimmy Chin © Panerai

In the world of sport, other brands share the podium with athletes with nerves of steel. In the past few years, Ulysse Nardin has enlisted an armada of “Ulysses”. Each in his own way, skipper and navigator Sébastien Destremau, snowboarder Mathieu Crepel, freediver Fred Buyle and kiteboarder Alex Caizergues offer a contemporary image of the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. They “answer only to their own fierce ambitions,” says the brand. “They are real-life heroes heeding the call to create their own destiny from dreams, ambitions and courage. These fresh affiliations are not only further proof of the brand’s desire to foster independent voyagers but also an invitation to explore your inner Ulysses and design your own odyssey.”

More than just beauty

The brand recently welcomed the first woman to join this intrepid crew. Champion freediver Alessia Zecchini is no modern-day Penelope, missing out on the action. “Alessia is no mermaid,” notes Ulysses Nardin Chief Marketing Officer Françoise Bezzola. “She is a true Ulysses; a fearless athlete who embodies force and determination. In 2020 beauty is not enough. Alessia Zecchini is a multi-facetted individual who has done us the honour of being the first woman in our family of explorers.”

Alessia Zecchini © Ulysse Nardin
Alessia Zecchini © Ulysse Nardin

This belief that “beauty is not enough” is something Ulysse Nardin’s Ulysses share with Breitling’s squads. “Our squad members – world-famous or not – will be absolute masters in their respective fields,” promised Breitling CEO Georges Kern when launching the three-person squad concept. “I am very much looking forward to seeing them soon, going on individual or shared challenges in one of the Breitling environments.” The Cinema Squad brings the talent and glamour of three of Hollywood’s most bankable stars: Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron and Adam Driver. The Surfer Squad spotlights the cool attitude of Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons. As for the Explorer Squad, its members might not be household names, their achievements are no less remarkable: Bertrand Piccard is the first person to have flown non-stop around the world in a balloon. Inge Solheim has guided wounded veterans to the North and South Poles while David de Rothschild, the youngest Briton to reach both Poles, has boosted awareness of the Pacific Garbage Patch by sailing a sustainable ship, built from reclaimed plastic bottles, from San Francisco to Sydney.

Creative personalities

Whatever the context, brands’ chosen personalities have energy, determination and creativity to spare. For the return of the Pasha watch, Cartier has assembled a star-studded cast of Rami Malek, Troye Sivan, Willow Smith, Maisie Williams and Jackson Wang. They strike a pose for New York-based fashion photographer Craig MacDean. “Since its creation in the 1980s, the Pasha watch has embodied a certain idea of success directly linked to its extroverted design, power and graphic nonconformism,” declared Arnaud Carrez, International Marketing and Communications Director for Cartier International. “It is as edgy as ever and in tune with today’s new generation of creators. These new Pasha ambassadors owe their success to their differences, creativity, connection, multidisciplinary talents and generosity.”

Rami Malek, Willow Smith, Troye Sivan, Maisie Williams, Jackson Wang © Pasha de Cartier
Rami Malek, Willow Smith, Troye Sivan, Maisie Williams, Jackson Wang © Pasha de Cartier

The ambassadors spotlighted in Vacheron Constantin’s “One of not many” campaign also stand out for their Talents – the name given to musicians James Bay and Benjamin Clementine, designer Ora Ito and climber-photographer Cory Richards who are each associated with a collection. In the brand’s words, “The ‘One of not many’ campaign presented in 2018 showcases talents whose personality and work express the constant quest for excellence, openness to the world and the spirit of innovation and creation characterising Vacheron Constantin. Singular, visionary and passionate, they are recognised experts in their own field, thereby also reflecting the concept of connoisseurs.” The latest Talent to join the campaign is Yiqing Yin. She becomes the face of the new Égérie women’s watches. A designer of Haute Couture, a world in phase with the Égérie collection, Yiqing Yin imagines her designs as a second skin that envelops the body in soft, floating folds. Passionately creative and immensely talented, she is further proof, were ever it needed, that beauty is not enough.

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