Sound bite: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s contemporary art celebrates acoustic watches

Jaeger-LeCoultre and Swiss artist Zimoun have collaborated on an artwork to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of its first minute repeater

Contemporary art sound sculpture
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This year marks 150 years since Jaeger-LeCoultre launched its first minute repeater. They have since produced over 200 watches containing the elegant complication which chimes the time when requested, ranging from a simple alarm to elaborate pieces that play the Westminster bells.

To mark the anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre has created a new sound sculpture in collaboration with Swiss artist Zimoun. Set to be exhibited around the world, it builds on the already strong links between horology and art.

Black metal discs are set in motion

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For Zimoun, it was a tantalising prospect. ‘I always found these incredibly small and precise mechanical systems of watchmaking fascinating,’ he says. ‘In the collaboration with Jaeger-LeCoultre there was a good understanding of art and the necessary freedom of creation.’

In his piece, Zimoun reflects on the simplicity and complexity inherent in his work and a Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece, translating these concepts into a physical piece both visual and acoustic. His artwork is created from small motors, hand-bended wires, MDF panels and very thin metal discs – when almost 2000 of the metal discs are set in motion, they produce noise as a result of their friction with the MDF panels. As the handmade wires are all slightly different, the discs rotate at different speeds, creating a complexity in the visual and acoustic properties. ‘I’m interested in sound as an architectural element to create space, but also in sound which somehow inhabits a room and interacts with it,’ explains Zimoun. ‘I work with three-dimensional sound structures, with spatial experiences and the exploration of sound, material and space.’

His choice of simple elements reflects his preoccupation with minimalism: ‘I like to work with raw, unspectacular and pure materials. These are often every day or industrial materials which are not especially designed to look nice; however, in my opinion, they are often even more beautiful.’

Rotating metal discs

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The exhibition The Sound Maker will take place from 5th March – 27th March 2021. It will take place in the salons of the Ecquevilly hotel (also known as the Grand Veneur Hotel)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.