Charles-Édouard Jeanneret is probably not a name you recognize, but Le Corbusier probably is; in fact, the latter is the nom de plume of the former (a variation on the name of his maternal grandfather, which he adopted in 1920 in the avant-garde spirit of assertion of one’s own identity against tradition). Beginning as a painter, Jeanneret moved into architecture and became famous for his furniture design (Swiss-born but living in France much of his life, he made characteristically Gallic declarations like “chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois”). Jeanneret also designed an enormous number of buildings, including the United Nations headquarters in New York. However, Jeanneret’s most significant intellectual contribution to design was the “Modulor” system of architectural proportions, based on the scale and proportions of the human body as well as the Golden Ratio, the number much beloved by aesthetes since the time of the Greeks.
Le Corbusier’s birthplace and the city where his ideas first began to take shape, is one of the most famous in watchmaking; La-Chaux-de-Fonds, located near the French border in the mountainous Swiss Jura. The city is home to Le Corbusier Foundation and the venerable watchmaking firm of Girard-Perregaux, which has long put the architecture of watchmaking in the forefront of its designs, with its famous Three Golden Bridges tourbillons perhaps the most dramatic example.
Girard-Perregaux, in association with the Le Corbusier Foundation, has created a (very) limited edition of three watches commemorating this icon of modern art and design. The GP “1945” case shape was chosen as the most suitably architectonic for the project –and, too, that was the year Le Corbusier published one of his best-known treatises: The Three Human Establishments (Les Trois Etablissements Humains.)
The first of these is the Le Corbusier “La Chaux-de-Fonds” whose dial is a reproduction in mother-of-pearl of an early Le Corbusier work. The combination of geometry and organic forms embodies the themes that were to occupy Le Corbusier for his entire creative life. The second is the Le Corbusier “Paris” which pays homage to his fusion of the conceptual framework of the Golden Ratio with the human body –and there is perhaps no material more identified with the high Modern architecture style than that used for the watch: stainless steel.
The third is perhaps the most unusual of the three: the Le Corbusier “Marseilles,” named for a major project in that city designed by the architect and constructed of rough-cast reinforced concrete. Though concrete may seem an unlikely material for a watch dial, the “Marseilles” watch –indeed, all three –is a powerful statement of Le Corbusier’s philosophy.
After all, this is the man who said, “The house is a machine for living.”
Each watch in the Le Corbusier Trilogy will be made in a limited edition of five only, worldwide. Powered by the self-winding in-house calibre Girard-Perregaux GP 3300-078, they incorporate a variety of materials including concrete, mother-of-pearl, stainless steel, and pink gold. All 36.20mm x 35.25mm. Price available upon request to Girard-Perregaux. Source, video and photos courtesy Girard-Perregaux press release.