A watch, like any designed object, is the product of a series of decisions, and those decisions can define it. At some point, whoever is making the thing has to determine what type of watch it’s going to be, what sort of movement it will have, the size, the style of handset and indices, the dial colors, and so forth. The most successful watches, in my opinion, are those made by people who have come to tough but deliberate decisions. We’ve all seen watches that feel like they are just too much in one way or another, and they never tend to work. The new Geometry by Schwarz Etienne is literally the watch equivalent of a fully loaded luxury car: when it comes to dial finishes, it has every option. But instead of being too much, it works in a sort of psychedelic way. Whatever you think of it, I think it’s hard to argue that it’s the product of some serious decision making.
The Geometry comes to us via designer Eric Giroud, who has previously worked with brands as diverse as Louis Erard, MB&F, Mido, and many more. The dial is divided into four distinct quadrants, each incorporating different dial finishes and patterns. You can imagine any one of the single quadrants made as an entire dial, and the watch would probably look great. But broken into pieces, you get a sense of how these different patterns and finishes work with and against one another. The fact that it’s somewhat jarring to look at at first is a reminder of the difficulty of watch design in the first place – you can’t just throw a bunch of patterns together randomly and expect a design to wind up coherent.
Among the finishing techniques incorporated here, you’ll find fluted lines, clous de Paris guilloché, and sections that have been finely sandblasted. There’s also mixing of color tones in both the silver and salmon dial options. By necessity, the Schwarz Etienne wordmark is decentralized and relegated to the upper left quadrant, and the dial is tied together by a subsidiary seconds register that binds the lower quadrants. There has perhaps never been a less symmetrical “sector dial” design ever attempted. To me, the dial gives the impression of viewing a reflection through a mirror that’s been broken. Everything is askew, but still recognizable.
The case of the Geometry is 39mm and 11m tall, and made of stainless steel. Its surface is polished and the design is fairly simple and straightforward, save for small steps on the lugs and bezel. Clearly the intent was to let the dial shine and be the center of attention, which I think is more than understandable. The movement is the Schwarz Etienne ASE 200.02 caliber, an automatic movement with a micro-rotor that provides 86 hours of power reserve.
It goes without saying that this watch won’t be for everyone, and it’s objectively an incredibly strange thing. I don’t think anyone was asking what a variety of guilloché finishes would look like if divided and reassembled, but here we find an answer, and in my opinion it’s more than a little fascinating. It forces the wearer to consider each pattern separately in a way we might not in a traditional dial, and that reinforces the attention to detail, craft, and Giroud’s sense of shape and space. Describing the idea behind this watch without any images to back it up, you’d probably think there’s no way it couldn’t be a mess. Perhaps you think that even after seeing the finished product. But close examination reveals a certain logic behind how the quadrants are arranged, with the minute track, for example, snaking around the dial in a way that allows you to still see it as a traditional circular track, and the tones being matched and arranged in each sector such that your eye is naturally drawn where it needs to go. The arrangement might look random, but clearly it’s anything but.
Each variant of the Geometry will be made in a limited run of 100 pieces, with a retail price set at EUR 23,400.