An Interview With Baume & Mercier Watch Designer Alexandre Peraldi

For WatchTime’s Design Special 2018 – on sale now and available for download in the WatchTime Shop — we sat down with several different design professionals — including independent industrial designers, freelance watch designers, lead designers of large brands, and even a movement designer — to talk about how they see the role of design in watchmaking, where they get their ideas from, and what they think good design is. Here are the answers we got from Alexandre Peraldi, Design Product Director of Baume & Mercier.

“Seduce a customer without knowing exactly what he wants.”

WT: In your opinion, what is the role of a designer in the world of watchmaking?
AP: The role of the designer in watchmaking is to transform the technical prowess of watchmakers into portable objects on the wrist; it takes poetry to make ornaments of the human person.

WT: How did you get into [watch] design?
AP: A recipe from the Zen philosophy has always followed me. It says something like this: “If you want to paint a bamboo, find the most beautiful bamboo first. Sit in front of it and watch it. From all angles, on all sides, to become bamboo yourself. At that moment, forget everything… and paint! ” I try to apply this precept to all design work. Be prepared in advance for all the possibilities, technical and aesthetic, all the constraints and all the objectives, in order to better free myself when I begin to work.

WT: What is good design in your view? Any examples?
AP: Raymond Loewy said, “The most beautiful line is the sales curve!” It should not be forgotten that the designer works for a trademark. A magnificent creation that does not sell remains as a piece of art. A good design is first and foremost one that speaks best of the brand it is supposed to represent. Then, for me, a good design will be the one that first seduces the person who wants to [wear] it and which will later be forgotten on the wrist. A well-designed watch must [also] be super comfortable! In addition, each watch owner has his own idea of ​​good design, the design that matches his tastes. This is what I find difficult in the design of a watch: seducing a customer without knowing exactly what he wants.

WT: Where do you get your ideas?
AP: Everything can be a source of inspiration for a designer. For my part, everything I see, and everything I touch, gives me ideas. Even If these ideas are tenuous in the beginning, with time and perseverance they take shape little by little. This can come from fashion, from architecture, but also from gastronomy. The cooks today draw their plates with sometimes a lot of aesthetics. Finally, I look at the people — their outfit, their look, their way of moving, of walking. This sometimes gives me direction for creating new models.

WT: Which product or watch would you like to see get a makeover?
AP: The connected watches. They are still too much [following] the aesthetic standards of traditional watches. Yet they could revolutionize the design of the objects we wear on the wrist.

WT: Should form follow function or function follows form? Why?
AP: Both, my captain! For the watch designer, it is advisable to dress an existing caliber according its function. But it is also necessary to find ways to create objects of very small size, with many aesthetic attributes and which adapts to the very particular range of the wrist. We often compare watchmaking design to automotive design, but we often forget the difficulty of working on an object as small as a watch. It must be useful, effective, beautiful, and comfortable.

WT: What project are you most proud of?
AP: I am sincerely proud of all the projects I have worked on — those that have had success and also [those that have been] the biggest failures. They all had a good reason to exist, and all of them were thought out with the same fervor, the same passion. When I see in the street, on someone’s wrist, a watch that I have designed, I am proud, regardless of the model.

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  1. All good but personally i think that Baume and mercia watches are very good watch brand need to manufacture in house movement and try to promote the watch brand in Australia that’s where I come from

  2. David Bailey

    Wow – I was hoping for some real insight, and I felt a little seasick from all those canned answers. For the brands sake, it appears that he believes it.

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