Poetic timepieces have been garnering great attention in the watchmaking world over the last few years. And, not to be outdone, erotic watches have been enticing with their ingenious engineering. Although it may come as a surprise, it’s not as simple as it seems to wear any and every watch on one’s wrist.
By Isabelle Guignet
Erotic watches were first imagined at the end of the 17th century: the era where libertinism was captivated by risqué scenes, occasionally animated by automatons, and offered the aristocracy the opportunity to descend subtly, or not, into the realm of suggestive discussions. Watchmakers broke away from the ever-so conservative moral of the times, even though the Church fought fervently to ban these timepieces, which were deemed disgraceful.
Although this market is smaller today and brands do not share much information on the subject, cultural sensitivities have evolved greatly over the last centuries. And, erotic watches are currently making a strong comeback. Religious authorities no longer have a say in the matter and customers have a good giggle at the sexual innuendo showcased on certain timepieces.
With great imagination and innovation, Richard Mille has reinvented the idea of the erotic watch and invites us to discover a timepiece that is… rather entertaining. Here, words and sex team up together. Three text rollers, randomly triggered by a push-piece, sensually conjure up suggestive messages. Far removed from the “I love you, a little, a lot, passionately”, the RM 069 Erotic Tourbillon invites the wearer to reveal their most licentious desires, urges and longings to their lovers. Jacob & Co, on the other hand, has opted for a more discreet timepiece with its Caligula. This watch’s rather provocative animation is concealed behind an aperture on the dial which opens by turning the crown to 4 o’clock. Designed exclusively as an amusement, it is a prime example of modern erotic watches. Where we can have a good giggle, and even blush, at a subject of conversation that is still deemed risqué today.
RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon
So, where does poetry fit in to all of this?
For the past several years, the trend has been keyed on mechanical art, on watches where the mechanism, more-often-than-not a minute repeater, breathes life into the dial. One of the watchmakers widely acknowledged for the romanticism of its timepieces is none other than Jaquet Droz. Be it nature or feelings, the watchmaking brand incorporates it in its timepieces through the magic of its automatons. This is perfectly-well illustrated through its recent Loving Butterfly Automaton. It features a cherub seated on a chariot, drawn by a butterfly through the woods. An ingenious mechanism brings the butterfly vividly to life and drives the chariot wheel. Jaquet Droz also uses the mechanism to have some fun with its poetry. The brand’s automatons in its Lady 8 Lotus and its Charming Bird definitely appeal to the emotions.
Van Cleef and Arpels has always shown a heightened awareness to nature, and portrays this yet again with its Lady Arpels Papillon Automate. This timepiece hosts an automated model butterfly which flaps its wings randomly, between one to four times in a row based on the power reserve. The wearer can set the scene in motion via a push-piece.
Today, while some watchmakers dream up erotic timepieces, others have chosen to centre stage romantic poetry. But, isn’t poetry really quite erotic after all?