January 29, 2011
by Ariel Adams
Jewelry and watch designer Philippe Tournaire has created some really interesting things. For me, he will be most famous for being the guy who turns architecture into rings. Really. Image a ring with a gold building on it – yup. Tournaire’s newest creation combines this concept with a watch, but in a way that is just sort of weird. In fact, as hard as it may have been someone finally make the beautiful city of Paris kinda unattractive.
To be fair I do like his basic watch designs. Even they have optional “architecture” around the side of the case. This one however has a thick frame of little carved buildings around the edge. A “revolution” around Paris you might say. Landmark buildings abound, as well as the Eiffel Tower of course. According to BusinessMontres, Tournaire is considering making timepieces like this for other cities. This is starting to remind me of the movie Inception – which I still don’t quite understand. That is the other place I recall being able to turn a city around on itself.
Tournaire’s basic watch design is pretty decent. Lugless watch case in a few materials with a tapered strap and a face that is something between Roman and Parisian in style. Legible and stylish, with most certainly a Euro twist to it. The watch collection he called “Expression,” and here the expression gets framed in what looks like scrap metal if you aren’t looking too closely. I think the concept is cool, I just can’t imaging wearing this watch without it 1) scratching the hell out of whatever brushes up against it, and 2) looking about as well ‘put together’ as an early 1990s “Cosby” sweater.
As a good concept, this has been done before – and done better. While actually more simple (using laser engraving), the solution Piaget came up with is better. On the Piaget Relatif Tourbillon Paris watch they were able engraved scenes from Paris on the side of the case. Looking very cool, but still being quite tasteful. As an item of interest, the Tournaire Expression Paris watch is fascinating (like looking at a small model is), but would you wear it? Well, would you?
The rest of his stuff I would gladly strap on and call it a day. Quite happily so in fact, but I just wonder what drives him to complete and then market an idea like this. Maybe as a one-off piece to show what he can do, but more than that? I just don’t know… Actually what really amuses me is that on his site, Philippe Tournaire repeats “Philippe Tournaire recommends platinum.” No shit he does! This is in reference to the fact that items ordered can be had in various precious metals. Platinum ones will cost the most – but inherently don’t make things better. The tough, yet soft metal is a pain to work with. In fact, look at it the wrong way and it scratches. Aside from steeper profits, exactly what is it that you recommend platinum for Mr. Tournaire?
I can’t help but imagine amusing projects that me in “infinite money land” would commission Tournaire to make. Like Expression watches with Bombay outskirt shanty towns engraved out of solid gold around their perimeter, and rings in platinum with diamond covered – carefully engraved – outhouses on them. Complete with an open door and “toilet” view inside. Oh, I know, an Expression watch with little buildings around it representing “top strip clubs of the world.” That will make an excellent anniversary gift someday.
Philippe Tournaire will hopefully get a laugh out of this. Most of his stuff is cool enough to find plenty-o-clients, but the Expression City watches just go overboard in my humble opinion. His watches are available with Swiss automatic mechanical or quartz movements. Not sure about how much the Expression Paris or other city watches cost to make, but the standard pieces are in the $2,000 – $5,000 range it seems. As always, most of what he does it custom, so put your thinking hands on people.