Text by Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon & Alex Leuzinger
Watchmaking and architecture share common terminology as well as identical construction principles. Parallel to this, form and function interweave to underpin design. Philosophical resemblances and structural similarities under the scrutiny of architect Alex Leuzinger.
The watch : Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph by Patek Philippe ref. 5990/1 A
A cult design, two of the most sought-after complications, exemplary readability… The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph adds the famous mechanism that makes it possible to read the second time zone at a glance to a classic chronograph movement. Two useful functions that Patek Philippe blends with the iconic aesthetics of the Nautilus whose porthole-inspired shape as well as its two lateral hinges on the case prove to be particularly suited to using these complications. While the righthand hinge acts as a protective reinforcement for the crown and chronographer pushbuttons, its left-hand counterpart has been replaced by the pushbuttons making it possible for the local time hand to go forward or backwards in hourly jumps. Smooth handling that is positively child’s play, coupled with a day/night indicator for each time zone and a perpetual calendar pegged on the local time. The dial reflects the collection’s emblematic design with its horizontal Nautilus textured pattern in subtle shades of black. Excellent aesthetics working in conjunction with useful functions driven by the new CH 28-520 C FUS mechanical self-winding caliber.
Its architectural equivalent : Brazil’s Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) by Oscar Niemeyer
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, one of the most famous Brazilian architects, the MAC opened in Niteroi, opposite Rio de Janeiro in 1996, after five years of construction. Intended to house the João Leão Sattamini Neto art collection, the museum is a work of art in itself that the public discovers when it comes to look at the some 1200 works exhibited. Rising to the heavens “like a flower” in Niemeyer’s own words, the 16-meter high, 18 to 20-meter diameter circular building, offers a staggering view of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Corcovado. The building’s silhouette has a unique influence on the view over Rio de Janeiro and gives visitors a sense of being confronted by a futuristic headlight rising out of the earth.
Its contours reveal the mature, daring work of an experienced artist… The influence of Corbusier (1887-1965) can be seen through the rational use of materials and the formal, adornment- free language which promotes the architectural concept of the building. The way in which Oscar Niemeyer positions simple, linear shapes enables him to use a hard, raw material such as concrete which he makes lighter and which he engineers into a playful dance between the water of the swimming pool in which it is mirrored and the surrounding sea. This harmonious, poetic simplicity makes this building a futuristic element, as well as a classic that is able to convey unique emotions.
The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph fits into this mind set. The choice of steel – a “hard” material like that of the concrete used for the MAC – is thus transformed through a bold idea into a poetic object capable of transporting us into a new universe as well as becoming an icon of modern design. Inspired by the shape of a porthole, with the changing shades of its dial and its harmonious curves, the watch is reminiscent of the ocean and the reflecting pool in which the curved silhouette of the building created by Niemeyer is mirrored and outlined.