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Undercover at GPHG
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Undercover at GPHG

Wednesday, 02 November 2016
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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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3 min read

She is the queen of lingerie, the fairy godmother of luscious lace who for more than forty years has been putting elegance and oomph into top drawers. Chantal Thomass is also helping pick the winners of this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. With just a few days to go before the big reveal, she talks about what time and watches mean to her, and why for once she’s more concerned with what’s on top rather than underneath…

We often associate watches with fashion but rarely with lingerie. What do the two have in common?

Both look for ways to create something beautiful and make aesthetic use of the raw elements at their disposal. While I can’t pretend to be an expert, I expect a watch to offer the same qualities as an item of lingerie, meaning it must be pleasing to the eye, a pleasure to wear, instinctive and flattering.

Does lingerie design resemble watchmaking in any way?

Definitely. Watchmaking requires technique and precision, and this is something you also find in lingerie, much more than in fashion as it happens. An item of lingerie is meticulously assembled from tiny pieces of fabric to achieve the ideal cut and a perfect fit. Not many people realise that a bra is assembled from over forty separate elements, and that the difference in sizes comes down to just one or two millimetres of fabric.

Chantal Thomass
Chantal Thomass @ Jo Zhou
How has this helped you better appreciate the work of the watchmakers you're judging for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève?

As someone with no background in watchmaking, I have to say I was amazed by the incredible creativity I discovered. I wasn’t expecting so much diversity. The technical aspects are extremely complex and by no means am I qualified to judge them. I give my opinion on the design and functionality of each watch.

Do you own a watch yourself?

I do, in fact I have several, but I’ve never asked myself what’s inside! I chose them purely for their appearance. I love black, it’s the colour I always wear, which makes it easier to match my watch to my outfit. I wear a watch every day. I prefer one with a large diameter that feels comfortable on the wrist. I need to forget it’s there. Don’t ask me the name of the different styles I own, I have no idea. I have one by Jaeger-LeCoultre, one in steel by TAG Heuer, and a round Chanel watch in black ceramic. I think that one is a J12.

J12 Moonphase black set with diamonds © Chanel
Have any of the shortlisted watches in particular caught your eye?

I’ve discovered a phenomenal amount of watches and brands I had never even heard of before, and some have definitely caught my eye, particularly one from Hublot. Generally speaking, the ones that have most appealed to me combine masculine and feminine elements. I prefer simple designs, without fuss and frills.

Is time friend or foe? Are you constantly chasing after time or are you happy to let it slip by?

I’m forever chasing after time! It’s a shame we can’t have more hours in the day. I’m not the kind to sit back and let time go by, except at weekends maybe, when I never look at my watch, and even then I’m incapable of staying in bed after 9 in the morning!

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