Erotic watches are nothing new. A gold pocket watch from 1790 attributed to Jaquet Droz even includes a hidden erotic interpretation of one of the company’s signature automata. It is the perfect example of a tried-and-tested recipe that still works today: a very romantic painting on the visible cover of the watch and an altogether different scene hidden behind the hunter case back.
While Jaquet Droz no longer has such idiosyncracies in its collection, Reuge, which has been producing pocket watches since the 1830s, does. The Sainte-Croix based company was also the first to miniaturise the cylinder and comb of a music box and incorporate it into a watch. In the brand’s latest erotic pocket watches, the association of music with some animated sex scenes creates an almost comical effect.
The tip of the iceberg
The fact that the market for such watches seems small, and that brands do not actively communicate on the subject, is hardly surprising. After all, cultural sensitivities can vary by country and religion and, while the more openly communicated models such as those shown here might be snapped up by collectors, there is an entirely hidden and unquantifiable customer base for such pieces.
As Kurt Kupper, CEO of Reuge, explains, “some customers want totally customized dials. They have very precise ideas about the scenes they want and the melodies to go with them. But we will never disclose any details about such pieces because they contain far too many intimate elements.” The apparent lack of communication is also explained by the fact that such personalized pieces represent the lion’s share of the market, at least for Reuge.
Hidden or subliminal
Jacob & Co’s Caligula wristwatch is a more modern example of the erotic watch. But it sticks to the main tenets of the genre, keeping its animation hidden behind an aperture in the dial that can be opened by turning a crown at 4 o’clock. For Jacob Arabo himself, such watches are about fun. “I made the Caligula watch to entertain people,” he explains. “It’s a conversation piece, every time someone opens up the watch to look at the scene they laugh. They may blush, too, but it’s more about fun.”
Watch brands show their own sense of fun with another recurring theme in such watches: that of the number 69. In this case, it is, of course, perfect for a small limited series, or even the price for a decent high-end watch. In the case of the new Richard Mille RM69, however, it serves as the name for the new calibre, which also has a rather unusual power reserve of 69 hours.
But the Richard Mille RM69 prefers words to any hidden automata. The three revolving rollers of the brand’s new “Oracle” complication dominate the dial, leaving the tourbillon shoe-horned into its space at 6 o’clock on the same axis as the barrel in a unique construction. Never one to do things by halves, Richard Mille even forces time to make way for eroticism: when the pushbutton in the 8 o’clock position is pressed to activate the rollers, the hour and minute hands disappear, returning to the correct time once the pusher is released. Sadly, production of this watch is limited to a less erotic and more restrictive 30 pieces.
Click on the photo at the top of this article to see a slideshow of erotic watches.