It’s five years since Falkirk native Fiona Kruger launched her first watch collection, the memento mori-inspired “sku;; watch” design that immediately established her as a new and noteworthy creativeprese nce. Since then, she has revisited the theme several times, in both watches as well as a sculptural wall clock, Vanitas.
But a new range by Krüger demonstrates that her creative vision extends well beyond skulls, with the explosion-inspired Chaos collection. Now based in Switzerland, Krüger, who had no background in watches, is often described as a product designer, but prefers to think of herself as an artist. “It’s not art versus design, but more a way of thinking, relating on psychological and emotional levels,” she explains.
“I always knew that I would have four or five collections, each with a theme relating to the very core of time and based on concepts that relate to everyone. Obviously, the Skulls represent life and mortality, and Chaos looks at the history of time itself.”
It is precisely because she’s not from a watch background that Krüger can tackle projects that others may baulk at, and is able to unconventionally approach external partners for the help she needs.
“When I started, I looked around and saw there weren’t many 20-year-old Scottish women making watches,” she laughs. “People got on board with me because I spoke to them one-to-one and engaged them by showing prototypes, sketches and mood boards. If people see merit in my projects and interesting challenges, then they are drawn to working on them.”
Inspiration for the new collection came in part from the artist Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), in which the British Army blew up a shed before Parker reassembled the surviving pieces in an installation. The artwork was then suspended from the gallery ceiling, as if in mid-eruption.
Of the five timepieces in the initial launch, two partly skeletonised versions are named Mechanical Entropy, and feature a movement that resembles an object stretching out in mid-explosion just before the Big Bang.
The Chaos collection sees the development of Krüger’s first bespoke movement, made in partnership with Agenhor, an independent company that is renowned for creating complex haute horlogerie mechanisms for the likes of Hermès, Fabergé and Van Cleef & Arpels. It was Agenhor’s founder, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, who first proposed creating something for Krüger from scratch, meaning that the watch could be developed from the inside out.
“Agenhor is a genuinely creative enterprise,” says Krüger. “Jean-Marc is aware that his business has to be commercial, but he always questions the point of a project and what the added value will be.”
The movement is thin, with large openings revealing as many of the components as possible. The brushed bridges and mainplate are black-PVD-coated and then laser-machined, rendering everything sharp and pointy – Krüger was determined to achieve a highly graphic, “cartoony” explosion effect – while the gold (or rhodium) plating on top suggests layers and depth.
The barrel, meanwhile, is engraved, and hand-painted with black lacquer, while the hour wheel is laser-cut for a bursting effect. The hands are shaped like large shards and the indices are applied directly to the underside of the sapphire crystal, suggesting smaller shards breaking out.
The final three watches in the collection are entitled Entropy I. The dial features a graphic of an explosion, while subtle apertures show the balance wheel and escapement below. The base layer is polished and the dial above has a sunburst finish, broken up by silicon flashes.
Both models are housed in an unusually shaped, minimalist titanium case dictated by the shape of the movement. The inside of the bezel is treated with colour, adding another layer of complexity, while the crown at 12 o’clock – the sole aligned component on each of the watches – introduces the only order into the Chaos collection’s mesmerising disarray.