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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

With her unique artistic visuals Fiona Krüger presents CHAOS in a beautifully harmonic way. New additions to her fresh Chaos line will be showcased at the Horology Forum in London between 11-12 September. We met Fiona in her creative workshop earlier, in the charming Alsace.

The way the world is today is no more disturbing than it has always been, I guess. We just face the present and the unstoppable information flow first hand. Still, I feel uneasy about certain developments which can make the road slippery right into a spiral if we miss reminding ourselves of the failures of our predecessors and the future we would like to give to our kids.

Life and death, order and chaos are in close brotherhood, in fact they define each other. Nature created balanced cycles, but we humans have been increasingly effective bending them here and there. The funny thing is that there is something beautiful and reassuring in all these opposing states just as it is disturbing. All historic civilisations treated death as part of life, it was something that you prepared for. They respected death and esteemed their dead. Chaos, the ultimate lack of coordination carries peacefulness, too. Since Rudolf Clausius we know that the entropy (the molecular disorder in a thermo dynamical system) spontaneously evolves towards equilibrium in an isolated system – the highest disorder rate, reaching the maximum entropy.

Fiona Krüger’s curious eyes and unrestrained experimenting mind process these ‘untouchable’ concepts around us with artistic talent. She finds the hidden chill in all of them and watches become a vehicle for her to convey a message. For this reason, the creation process in her case is more of an artistic flow than traditional watchmaking.

The universal symbol of death, the skull was the first motif she approached. The design and the first piece were already born at the ECAL watchmaking school she had attended. Her childhood years in Mexico inspired the colourful series and the initial models were truly Latin American. Then as it started selling to the most diverse audiences, she elaborated on the same motif in single-tone and smaller versions. Although there are skull watches out there, her charming version has made her ‘the skull girl’ and someone, who very few would expect a drastically different second collection from.

‘The thing about Chaos is that, while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar in a way that we secretly find magnificent.’

– Christopher Poindexter
(American poet and short story writer).

The Chaos collection

Fiona’s heart was captivated too, when she started drawing the initial plans for the new line. The sketch books tell a lot about her artistic process.

Even more than with the skull motif, imprints of feelings and impressions appear on the mood boards with the intention to lead the design blindly, considering no technical constraints at first. To these ideas – crazy as they can be – she recruits the right partners to work with. Therefore, the technical capabilities of the partnering manufactures are important, but their will to think together with Fiona out of the normal horology box is even more essential. She’s not the type of person who accepts a simple ‘no’, but she is very open to new suggestions that enhance her design.

‘I love working with Jean-Marc Wiederecht and his team at Agenhor. When I first showed them the sketches of the Chaos they looked at it and said – “this is crazy, we are in”. They proposed to me to design a new movement from the ground up in order to fully realise the idea, if I was up for the challenge. It’s an incredible opportunity so of course I said yes. This was a new collaboration for me, Guy & François from Agenhor and myself really worked as a team to fully merge the aesthetic of my design with the technical elements of the movement, which for them was also a new way of working. Working closely like this brought genuine design ideas which made the final product better and better – we all felt it just looked so incredible, so we all had a real drive to bring those ideas to life.’

Fiona Krüger - Chaos collection - sketchbook

Fiona Krüger Mechanical Entropy Silver Skeleton, Chaos collection

The new movement (CHAOS I) is an integral part of Fiona’s still life. You cannot approach it as an encased and decorated independent unit hidden behind a dial, since its layout had been deliberately architected to help conveying the overall message.

‘The movement was very unusual to make because the positioning and production of the components was down to the aesthetic desired rather than our technical requirements.’ As François Merot, the Director of Production at Agenhor explains: ‘It is extremely rare to adapt the technical aspect of a movement to an aesthetic wish. Fiona’s approach as to how to think of a watch movement is highly innovative. Her approach elevates the movement beyond being a technical element into something artistic.’

The gear-train is stretched as if components were receding into the distance following an elemental explosion. As if the exact moment of the detonation had been frozen. François Merot made sure that this is just an illusion and components actually interact perfectly in the 50 hours manual mechanism. The hands and their wheels have been pushed off-centre and gears from the escapement to the barrel are visible through the cracks of the bridges and the main-plate. The alternating surfaces and the clever cut-outs lend a very dynamic appearance to the watch with depths and glowing edges. Shining sharp indexes levitate above the plane of the surface like a mirage. Parts are individually decorated to enhance the feeling even further. The titanium case is light as if its entire weight had disappeared in the explosion. In addition to this, it is elongated with the crown placed on top, so the watch wears very comfortably.

Fiona Krüger Entropy I Purple Pow, Chaos collection

Fiona Krüger Entropy I Cobalt Crash, Chaos collection

The skeleton versions, called Mechanical Entropy debuted earlier in June. The September novelties, named Entropy I, operate with mind-blowing layered front surfaces and colours. The blasts around the balance-wheel and the barrel are enclosed by a monochrome medium. The satiné soleil finish (sun brushed) on this surface looks like running shock waves. The explosions are silicium, coloured with black PVD (black version) blue PVD (blue version) or a purple CVD (purple version), laminated and laser cut into the shape. When you turn the timepiece towards and away from the light, these vividly reflect it in all possible ways. ‘The individual sheets are 0.2mm thin, and extremely fragile, so we have worked with partners to develop the right production “recipe” for the dials to get them produced and ensure the quality’ – Fiona added. There is a crisp outline to all these explosions one layer below, which is the part skeletonised hand-polished base plate with a finishing in rhodium (blue and black versions) and gold (purple version).

The watchmaking industry needs people like Fiona who, by nature, question the good old dogmas. She is an artist first and foremost, who chose watches and clocks as a form of self-expression. It is also cool to see that there are hard-core watchmaking workshops, who do not consider a designer-led project as the death dance of haute horlogerie and pick up the gauntlet. The pieces in the Chaos line are equally divisive as the Skull pieces were. To some, it will be too many lines and details and not legible enough. But for others the heart will start roaring in a way they will find magnificent. Especially when they put it on and the chaos doesn’t look chaotic anymore. Just a cleverly composed symphony that you cannot stop discovering.


Photo credits: Fiona Krüger.
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