Watchmakers strike a marketing note with musical links

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Synesthesia—the experience of one sense through another—helped Tokyo Myers choose the key for the music he composed for watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre, inspired by the golden ratio. “C minor gives me a yellow, golden color,” explains Myers, who is known for mixing classical music with other genres – and is a former winner of a British reality TV show Britain is looking for talent.

His Endless symphony is the soundtrack to the 10-minute musical show Golden Ratio, which celebrates the design of the Reverso watch (itself inspired by the golden ratio) by exploring the ratio’s presence in nature, science and art.

Myers visited the Swiss brand’s manufactory and studied the Art Deco designs (Reverso, launched in 1931) before writing music to match the visual content projected on a water-falling screen during the music show . He incorporated the golden ratio (1.618) into the tempo by moving the decimal point so that it played at 161.8 beats per minute. “There’s detail in everything we’ve done,” he says.

The collaboration is the first time the watchmaker has worked with a musician in this way, says Catherine Rainier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. The brand took the show – first staged in its cinema since 1931 – on tour to Shanghai, Los Angeles and London this year and plans to take it to Dubai next year.

“As a watchmaker this is, you might think, far from our domain,” Rainier says. “However, it’s completely in sync with the way we create, the way we bring emotion to what we do, and it challenges us to be very expressive in different art forms and reach audiences in a completely different way .”

Jaeger-LeCoultre is among several Swiss brands taking a new approach to exploring the relationship between watchmaking and music. While watchmakers have often worked with musicians as ambassadors (in the case of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lenny Kravitz) or on the design of new watches, they are increasingly commissioning artists to compose new music.

Raymond Weil, the music-inspired brand that has celebrated musicians through collections and partnered with concert halls, looked at music “in a slightly different way” for the launch of its limited-edition bicompact Freelancer Pop chronograph in July, says its chief marketing officer Jeremy Bernheim. The family-owned watchmaker is commissioning new music for the first time, bringing together French pianist Victor Le Douarec and saxophonist Sandy Sax to compose the song used in the watch’s campaign video – itself created as a tribute to live music. As a result of the pandemic, the brand wanted to “use music in a very social way,” says Bernheim.

DJ and producer Carl Cox on vinyl turntables
DJ and producer Carl Cox © Hugo Richard
Zenith’s limited edition Defy Extreme Carl Cox launched in September alongside a Spotify playlist © Zenit

Brands present music to customers in other ways as well. British DJ and producer Carl Cox has put together a special playlist to coincide with the release of the limited edition Zenith Defy Extreme Carl Cox in September. The playlist, available on Spotify and the watchmaker’s website, is the first to be released by the brand.

This came ahead of last month’s release of the debut track from a project made for Zenith by another “friend of the brand”: Italian multimedia creator, Klaus. His electronic music includes sounds recorded during a visit to the Swiss watchmaker’s manufactory in Le Locle.

French musician Woodkid’s original composition for Vacheron Constantin, which has 11 public playlists on Spotify, features the mechanical beat of his self-winding Fiftysix watch. Launched in June, the contemporary track “Euclidean Pulses 1” was inspired by the brand’s “Less’ential” theme for this year’s Watches and Wonders exhibition in Geneva.

Woodkid, left, talks to another person in a music studio
Woodkid, left, worked with Vacheron Constantin

“‘Euclidean Pulses’ is interesting because, a bit like Vacheron, it actually combines science and beauty – because it’s essentially based on the mathematical expression of music,” says Charlotte Tyssier, British Brand Director for Vacheron Constantin. The music, available on YouTube, is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Vacheron Constantin and Woodkid through the watchmaker’s One of Not Many mentoring program. The Grammy-nominated musician, who has directed music videos for the likes of Katy Perry, mentored two budding singer-songwriters at London’s Abbey Road Studios on the scheme.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collaboration with Myers is part of the Made of Makers program to collaborate with artists from disciplines outside of watchmaking. However, Rainier says that sound and music have always been part of the watchmaker’s world, albeit “more from a technical and mechanical point of view”. “Bell watches have historically been one of the key inspirations in watchmaking for innovation and complication,” she says.

Carl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, hopes to work with the French musicians brothers Renaud and Gauthier Capusson again – this time on big ringtone a watch scheduled for release in early 2025. The brand previously enlisted the help of the violinist and cellist, respectively, to calibrate the sapphire gongs in three models of bell watches it released last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the LUC collection.

Carl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, center, seated with French musician brothers Renaud and Gauthier Capusson, holding violin and cello
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard with the French musician brothers Renaud and Gauthier Capusson © Alex Teuscher Photography

Scheufele, who listened to every watch with a bell before leaving Chopard, says that “although we have specialists in the field and our engineers certainly know what they’re doing, we don’t claim to have a trained ear for sound and music like a professional musician would have”.

As for new musical compositions, watchmakers say they give artists creative freedom. “We’re not music producers,” says Raymond Weil’s Bernheim, adding that his company makes sure musicians retain the rights to their music. “What we want to be is really the igniting force behind bringing music to life.”

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