Jean Nouvel and Oki Sato rethink the Maurice Lacroix ‘Pontos’ with Wallpaper*

Jean Nouvel and Oki Sato rethink the Maurice Lacroix ‘Pontos’ with Wallpaper*

We’ve always had a good thing going on with Maurice Lacroix. Earlier this year, the Swiss watchmaker invited Wallpaper* Bespoke to reimagine its classic ‘Pontos’ design. We added Jean Nouvel and Oki Sato to the mix. Here’s what happened next…

‘Just as an architect will establish a style in his or her work that is immediately recognisable, the ‘Pontos’ has particular characteristics that make it instantly identifiable as a Maurice Lacroix design,’ says David Sanchez, the Swiss watchmaker’s product director.

‘With Jean Nouvel and Oki Sato we have two highly respected names, from different generations, with two very different approaches to their work,’ says Sanchez. This year, the pair have been invited to reimagine the Maurice Lacroix Pontos ‘Day Date’ model.

Maurice Lacroix’s Pontos ‘Day Date’ timepiece

A classic combination of craftmanship and design, the ‘Pontos’ model has been at the centre of Wallpaper’s previous collaborations in the Maurice Lacroix Bespoke series, which began in 2009. Back then, we asked product and interior designer Gwenaël Nicolas, industrial designer Arik Levy and fashion designer Neil Barrett to reconsider the ’Pontos Décentrique GMT’ model. By 2011, architects and designers Rodolfo Dordoni and Patricia Urquiola, and fashion designer Kris Van Assche had contributed to our design collaboration.

‘Design is key to everything we do and we don’t want to be limited in any way,’ says Sanchez, who is based at the watchmaker’s manufacture in Saignelégier. Jean Nouvel was similarly inclined to push Maurice Lacroix’s ‘Pontos’ archetype ‘to its limits, making it clearer and more substantial by employing a single material, stainless steel’.

Nouvel says he wanted to highlight the Pontos’ design’s inherent simplicity, using the plainest numerals, most slender hands, and glass with as little shine and reflectivity as possible. ‘When you achieve this balance of tension, you will succeed in giving an object character. It’s all about the scale of the watch in relation to the size of the individual, and the scale of the watch in relation to the strap, which needs to be relatively abstract to give more presence to the object itself. These are all the parameters you use to integrate an object into a context. The context in this case is a man’s wrist’, says Nouvel.

Oki Sato’s approach was to view the watch ‘like a white canvas’. ‘The “Pontos” is not standard. It’s not basic. But it’s inspiring in a very pure way,’ he explains. Sato also wanted to give the design a life that wasn’t about simply wearing a watch: ‘I think we have to think differently about watches now. The next role for the watch is more about the notion of objects that you live with.’ He placed the ‘Pontos’ within a domestic interior: ‘I came up with the idea of a cuckoo clock. The watch lives and functions as part of a clock, then you remove it and wear it on your wrist.’ The colour and finish were paramount considerations. ‘Because I wanted something that really blends into a room, I chose a matt white with a bit of pink gold as detailing.’

As Sato points out: ‘A watch is composed of so many small components that are beautifully linked to each other and create a single, harmonious story. Beautiful architecture is the same. So, for me, the Pontos project wasn’t so much like designing a watch, more like designing a small piece of architecture.’

A version of this article originally appeared in the December issue of Wallpaper* (W*225)

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