Contemporary Pop Art In The Alexander Shorokoff Lady Avantgarde Watch

Contemporary Pop Art In The Alexander Shorokoff Lady Avantgarde Watch

Contemporary Pop Art In The Alexander Shorokoff Lady Avantgarde Watch   watch releases

This limited edition watch for women by German Alexander Shorokoff reminds me of my youth. Usually watches seem to remind other people of their youth, but when I saw this watch my mind began to wander to being in a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. No, not because I used to wear women's watch. It is the art.

A large part of my watch fascination comes from being an art lover. Watches are art. They are tools first, but they are tools with artistic real estate. Appreciation of good design and quality aesthetics drives a lot of my commentary. This watch will repulse some and entertain others, but in my eyes it reminds me of cartoons. Back in the 1980s colorful geometric art became really popular. A lot of this had to do with the start of computerized design and graphics slowly taking over hand-drawn work. Organic lines started being replaced by straight lines, and the inclusion of computer graphics into the art world was rapidly taking place.

In the 1990s this design aesthetic began to evolve into a more pop art style. Once straight geometric shapes oddly became fuzzy and hand-drawn. The perfection of computer-rendered shapes seemed to espouse a lash-back. You had artists doing geometric by hand in crude animation styles. Colors that were once solid and primary started to get more fun. The 1990s saw the everything from neon to pastel colors experience a sort of explosion. The best placed one could experience all this were television show intros and cartoons. For me a lot of this was epitomized in the artistic style of early to mid 1990s Nicktoons on the kid's cable television network Nickelodeon.

While not a perfect analog, the design of the dial in this Lady Avantgarde watch is a pleasant reminder of those shapes and designs. I can also see in my mind the lines of the shapes "wiggle" as being purposefully crudely animated. The asymmetric mixture of shapes, colors, and textures are still however balanced and reminiscent of the playful disorganization of the art style it means to honor. For me I see artistic elements of television cartoons that I grew up with such as Ren & Stimpy, Doug, Rugrats, Rocko's Modern Life, and more.

Despite what the watch reminds me of, it is actually a combination of artistic styles from all eras of the 20th century. In the dial is everything from art deco to pop art, as well as abstraction. Alexander Shorokoff's signature "big 60" is playfully integrated in an interesting way. Notice how the numeral is not placed where the 60 minute marker should be? It is actually to the left of it, and a small arrow points to the correct mark. This is part of the playful disorganization I was referring to above. Note the date window placed inside of the stylized spiral.

Alexander Shorokoff further mixes art with design as the watch dial mixes are with horology. The main elements of a branded watch dial are there complete with descriptive text and areas that are clear hour indicator. The thoughtfully designed dial managed to be legible and artistic at the same time. A little fact that no doubt most people will miss.

While the brand refers to it as a ladies' piece, it doesn't necessarily need to be that. The case is 39mm wide in steel and contains a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. The case as a sapphire display back and is matched to a thick leather strap. The Alexander Shorokoff Lady Avantgarde will be limited to 500 pieces.

25 comments
Ovidiu Hretcanu
Ovidiu Hretcanu

that is a cool watch! Love the arrow next to 60min label!

trj66
trj66

And once again kudos to Ariel: so cool authoring a blog, where readers discuss the postings in earnest. Seriously: discussing the correct size of a watch? How absolutely wonderful and nerdy is that?

CG
CG

Funny, when I read "Avantgarde" and saw the watch I thought of a 1920's Russian and German artistic homage. Note the now famous film & political posters of that era. Ren & Stimpy, though quite an interesting reference,didn't click for my cartoon experience of the 1950's. Nice watch.

Jay Sherman
Jay Sherman

When did the industry collectively consider 39 mm to be a small watch? While I have a suspicion the price will be much more than the simple unmodified 2824 is worth, why is this not a unisex watch at least? Not every men's watch nowadays needs to have the hubcap proportions of a U-Boat or Hublot abomination.

MichaelG
MichaelG

I like it, in a fun crazy way, but I like it. It's not as wacky as an Alain Silberstein, instead has some grace and could even be considered classy, in a fun crazy way. If it was 42/45mm, I'd consider seeking one just to see how it looks on my wrist.

Greg S
Greg S

They could probably limit it to 5 pcs and still not sell them all.

JohnnyJohnnyJohnny
JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

"No, not because I used to wear women's watch."

You slipped that qualification in because of me didn't you.

admin
admin

My pleasure. I think it is great when this happens.

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@CG I got the same impression you did, but in part because Shorokhoff does Russian-themed pieces, despite being based in western Germany. Also, Ariel, can you correct the spelling typo in the title of the piece?

trj66
trj66

@Jay Sherman You are SO right - and I blame Sly Stallone and Panerai! Then Hublot, Audemars Piguet et al. followed suit and today even the Reverso from Jaeger-Lecoultre comes in monster-sizes; plain stupid as that watch is supposed to be an elegant, discrete classic. I carry a 37mm IWC Portofino and a Baby-Panerai of 40mm - and that's the maximum size to my taste.

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@Jay Sherman The shift to giant watches came when all watches started to be purchased by hulking monsters with massive wrists. You see, probate attorneys, accountants and middle managers all over the world rapidly evolved, becoming men among nerds, and then gods among men among nerds. This all happened only a few years after the terrible evolution of real estate agents and soccer moms, wherein they had evolved into hulking beasts who could neither be housed in conventional homes, nor navigate a vehicle with a GVW of less than 3 tons.

If you're going to spend serious money on a watch, it has to be big. Really big. That way more people can see it and appreciate that you're a classy guy with classy tastes and shit. Check out my Hublot!

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@Greg S I suspect he could sell quite a bit more than 500. Keep in mind his target audience. They have no shortage of cash and no reserve of taste.

Not that I don't like this piece, but its bright colors and bold design will work well to find buyers among the aforementioned audience.

admin
admin

Of course man.

JohnnyJohnnyJohnny
JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

@trj66@Jay Sherman@MichaelG@AtSeaWatch

I think the answer is probably offensively simple: Turnover

I wouldn't think for a second that the increase in watch sizes has anything to do with consumer utility. We're talking about a fashion trend here. They can't produce the same stuff, because you've already got it; therefore, they must change the 'en vogue' to something you don't have.

Yes, some men will think that a bigger (anything) will make them more of a man and some will think that bigger watch = bigger value, but these are just externalities. Turnover is what drives production, not consumer utility.

That being said, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything sub~42mm. It just looks girly.

MichaelG
MichaelG

@trj66@Jay Sherman Please bear in mind not everyone has wrists, or even physiques compatible with say 39mm. A large watch (42-47mm) on a large wrist doesn't necessarily look 'stupid', while 39mm might look awkward. I agree with you when I see men with small wrists sporting large over sized watches, primarily because they look cool and manly. Now that's stupid. Panerai, Hublot and others are simply catering to the larger wrists in the world and to those who have small ones and don't care about looking foolish wearing them. As you say, it's all about personal taste and brands targeting their varied market.

JohnnyJohnnyJohnny
JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

@AtSeaWatch@Greg S Thinking from a woman's perspective...what pair of shoes, handbag, or outfit will go with the design of this watch?

The only "women" who would wear this would be a 19 yr old, with a rich watch-loving dad, going to an 80's theme frat party.

admin
admin

I never ceases to amaze me how much people quibble about watch case sizes. Choose what size you like on your wrist for yourself. It is just that simple. I don't understand why this becomes some quasi-ideological debate, lol.

trj66
trj66

@JohnnyJohnnyJohnny@Jay Sherman@MichaelG@AtSeaWatch Turnover is clearly an issue here. Same movement put into another "vogue-ish" case, but in reality no innovation what so ever. Maybe I'm a hypocrite wearing a Panerai housing a Valjoux 7750 and an IWC equipped with a ETA 2892-A2 but I'm truly, utterly bored by all the brands just dressing ETA-movements up.

Re: sub 42mm: no it is not to girlish. It is a matter of taste, a matter of wrist-size - and so much a matter of fashion. Just glance at all the "chick" movie stars and other celebrities of yesteryear, and you will drown in images of "masculine" heroes wearing watches sub 35mm!

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@JohnnyJohnnyJohnny@trj66@Jay Sherman@MichaelG I think it's absolutely about turnover. It just reminds me of the 90s when the Big Three started cranking out massive SUVs because they discovered that the American public wanted them in a big way and were willing to pay $40K for car content on a primitive truck chassis. Why build a new sedan with a 2% profit margin when you can build an SUV with the same amount of material an pull a 30% profit. A 50Fathoms is just a Leman series three hander with a $4,000 markup. A company would be foolish to leave that on the table.

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@MichaelG The Top Gun watch was one of those that baffled me. When I first saw it, I thought, that's nice and tasteful, if way too large for my wrist, especially with that lug design. Then I saw the back and it made me irrationally angry. It came out at a time when IWC hadn't really sunk into cross-marketing, oversized, directionless mess that so many other brands were wallowing in. Just look at what AP was doing in that period with the ROO line. Models for Arnie movies, Shaq, Hamid Karzai. Each one more garish and ridiculous than the last. AP seemed to be charge by the gram for watches that were only available to the faithful.

That behavior set the template for brands like Hublot. Notice the rise of dramatically overpriced, oversized halo models for brands in the last 10 years. BP put itself on the map with the 50 Fathoms, Hublot with the Big Bang, Panerai with its one watch in two cases, IWC with the Big Pilot, AP with the ROO, UN Maxi Marine, the JLC SEALs, etc. For brands, it makes sense. Slap an uninteresting movement into a large brutish case and add several thousand dollars to the MSRP to let buyers know it is special. Once it takes off, you can give it a blue dial, call it the Blue Lemur SWAT Limited Compression Deep Sea and add another zero to the price tag. Or paint the number 8 red and sell it in China at a markup that would make seasoned defense contractors blush.

The end result of this is that we're not seeing real innovation in the watch world at the lower levels. The innovation is all coming in at the level for oligarchs and the sub-$30K is just repackaging the same things into newer and larger cases. There should be an outcry about this. Instead, watch journalists breathlessly proclaim the latest iteration of some superfluous dive watch to be a revelation. John Biggs brought this up in an Hour Time Podcast before the holiday break, about a lack of objectivity for reporting on this industry. Right now we have people cheerleading, suckers laying down the money, and the folks on the forums saying "Nice, wear it in good health."

MichaelG
MichaelG

@AtSeaWatch I see what you mean, and I'm sure some marketing ploys are at work here too. You happen to mention one of the watches I own (IWC TG 46mm) and on my wrist it looks fine, even on smaller wrists. I would have gone for the smaller version but I preferred the dual chrono. I could care less what the purpose or implications a watch has (I totally ignore the TopGun reference) as long as it makes my heart beat, and to a lesser extent I will also wear a smaller watch like the Nomos Zurich Weltzeit 40mm I recently purchased. I think those that equate size with $ are the minority and as someone who is passionate for watches, I just shrug my shoulders and pity them. I purchase what I like and can wear based on what the brands offer, regardless of other superfluous criteria.

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@MichaelG@trj66@Jay Sherman I agree with you to a certain extent, Michael. My father's a big guy, so when I was shopping for a watch for his birthday, I picked out one that was 42mm. A similarly designed 36mm watch would have looked silly. It is very telling though, that certain watches come in larger sizes, such as the JLC SEALs watches and the IWC Top Gun. The implication is that manly men who do man stuff need really big manly watches. Just sell damn things with a box of Trojan Magnum XLs already.

That said, it's more than simply case size. It really comes down to the shape of the case, the shape, curvature, and length of the lugs, and often the design of the bracelet (if there is one). Case size is such a pointless metric. Maybe we should establish a new value that represents the distance between the springbars. That would tell you a bit more.

I think there really is a mindset that more is better. I've seen way too many reviews of watches like the Hamilton 46mm faux pilot watch wherein the reviewer gushed about how much watch it is for the money. Let's just admit that big watches make non-watch guys think they're getting a deal.

AtSeaWatch
AtSeaWatch

@JohnnyJohnnyJohnny@Greg S Johnny, you may be right about it not appealing to women that much, but I see this as something a Russian kleptocrat would pick up for his wife as a gift while he's taking delivery of his Tolstoi special edition. I've seen a good many male collectors buy companion pieces for their wives. I don't get it, as it seems like the horological equivalent of wearing matching velour track suits to go mall walking.