Jewellers are generally wary of taking an horological turn, but Delfina Delettrez is uniquely suited to the task. Quality watch design – while not watchmaking – is a tricky, technical and uniquely collaborative pursuit. A curious mind and creative persistence are essential.

Delettrez, a scion of the Fendi family, has chosen to launch her first timepiece, ‘Policromia’, under the keen eye of the Italian fashion house’s Timepieces division, rather than her eponymous jewellery label. Despite Apple’s move into watches, Swiss Made is still the horological benchmark 
and Fendi Timepieces has been producing fashion-savvy watches in Switzerland since 1988. The Delettrez collaboration is a smart move, edging both designer and maker onto the fringes of haute horlogerie.

Like any good jeweller, Delettrez admits to a fascination with what goes on behind
 a design and was keen to make her first watch a mechanical one. She soon conceded that ‘not many jewellers design watches, because it’s an expensive process and it needs amazing expertise’, and focused on decorative techniques instead. ‘I was quite worried, as a watch has 
a particular functionality that jewellery doesn’t. But I said to the in-house team, "No matter the changes I have to make, just tell me.”'

The poetic notion of time factored, too. ‘I was looking at the sky through the arches of the new Fendi HQ building in Rome – the changing colours, shadows and light – and it was as if it were an architectural giant watch,’ she says, referring to the recently reworked Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, a Mussolini-commissioned structure. ‘I liked the idea of the watch being an architectural universe in miniature; a vortex.’

Made in a series of 20, ‘Policromia’ does have a carefully constructed, deco bent. The materials – semi-precious hard stones, brushed white gold and diamonds – are texturally rich and multi-layered. ‘In the end, the result is like a fake movement – it doesn’t move but it’s like an illusion, it looks as though it should,’ she says. ‘With my own jewellery design, I like the idea of taking 
away the functionality; with the watch design, it is like I am putting it back in.’

As originally featured in the September 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*210)