Alexandre Peraldi talks about his inspirations, from all things old and new, to learning everyday and the bright future of Baume & Mercier.
It’s been 26 years since Alexandre Peraldi has been designing. After studying ornamental engraving and “arts du feu” at Ecole Boulle and luxury marketing at Institute Supérieur du Marketing du Luxe, in Paris, Peraldi joined Richmond Group. His first role was product designer at Cartier, in 1988. By 1997 he was given the role as Head of Group Horlogerie. Following this, Peraldi departed Cartier to join Baume & Mercier as Design Director in 2001. His long career was not sparked by a love of horology — it was simply sparked by a love of design, and creating within the constraints the industry provides. His ideas have lead to an array of successful designs for the house.
On his recent visit to the Middle East, Baume & Mercier was a celebratory sponsor of the latest edition of Fashion Forward Dubai. As part of the luxury watch brand’s collaboration with FFWD, the house partnered with three of the region’s top fashion stylists to create a photoshoot featuring FFWD apparel designers and Baume & Mercier’s latest women’s collection, Petite Promesse.
a&e spoke exclusively to the head designer:
How do you describe what you do at work?
I’m more a designer than a creator. I try and stay creative with the team. Creativity comes from the team rather than just from one person; it is a mindset so I prefer to speak about design. I love design. I like to create watches and form ideas for the business.
What are you passionate about?
Balance. When I try to describe Baume & Mercier I say what we are not rather than what we are. We are not extravagant and we are not crazy. I like the idea of staying in the middle and being balanced. Our designs are not too outrageous or too classic. This can be applied to life. We have to experience extremes to value balance. Balance is fundamental like Yin and Yang.
You learned to design classic watches at Cartier and modern ones at Baume & Mercier, what’s your next objective?
I will continue to design watches that are different. To be able to design for the future you need to present watches to new people. That is why it’s important to be here at FFWD. It makes me happy to keep the link with new creators, designers and stylists. It’s important because they are the future. I’m not so young anymore, so I try to see what new designers are doing. It’s essential for creativity and modernity. This is a strong objective for me.
[Image: Baume & Mercier Petite Promesse collection.]
Many events related to fashion are held in Dubai. Tell us why did you choose to collaborate with Fashion Forward and launch the new Petite Promesse here?
It’s the perfect link for new creativity, newcomers and new designers. It’s not commercial and it’s fun for Baume & Mercier. We are more of a classic brand and Fashion Forward compliments us. It’s young and innovative. Regarding the watch that we designed, Petite Promesse, we are trying to reach new clientele. If we reach new people that will be good for everybody.
Talk me through the design process of Petite Promesse.
We chose blue and orange straps because they aren’t standard colours. They are diverse yet easy to sell. It was difficult for the marketing people to accept that to make this watch successful was not due to the colours but the style. We could have gone for a black strap but the idea was to attract the client with something different. The orange was different and it was already in the mind of the brand as we’ve used this orange before. This blue shade was perfect too, but essentially what makes the watch it that it warps around your wrist. This itself makes the watch stand out.
How do you classify the design of Baume & Mercier’s Petite Promesse?
To be honest, I don’t know if this is a watch that is timeless. I would like it to be, but this wasn’t the purpose of making it. It is linked to our Promesse collection launched two years ago. It is part of the DNA of the brand. If we keep it in the collection in 10 years I will be very happy. We will work on some new colours and develop the watch in time. For me, this watch gives the opportunity to women to think about Baume & Mercier. In the past the brand was not in their mind. Now they think about us.
Three words that describe Petite Promesse?
Fun, fun and fun. It has to be put on your wrist once and when you do you will love it.
What is your definition of a beautiful watch?
When you forget that you are wearing a watch and it becomes a part of you.
Who is your role model when it comes to designing?
Raymond Loewy, the French-born American industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries. He was the guy that invented the concept of design. In fashion, the work of Alexander McQueen.
Who is your favourite designer at this year’s Fashion Forward?
I love a lot of them. It’s difficult because you don’t see a lot of their work you just see a few elements. You can’t judge a designer with one or two projects; you have to see many things.
How does travelling the world influence your designs?
It’s so important for me to travel. I don’t travel enough for work but I travel a lot personally. I like to discover different cultures and different countries Every year I spend several days in different cities. My favourite city at the moment is Barcelona, but I love Dubai because it is new and relative for the future. I prefer Dubai to many other cities not because of the extravagant building but because of the open mindset of the future. I like Dubai because it’s not linked with a past. However I also like historic cities like Paris.
Where did you get your inspiration from when you started Petite Promesse?
Everyday you have to be observant to catch small elements to keep in mind. When you start to design you put them all together and you build with that. This inspiration is unconscious for me. When you start a project you think: What are they wearing on their wrist? What are they thinking about? What about their lives? These things are more important for us. Marketing gives us a target, but I dislike that. I prefer to create my own image; I prefer to develop this image with my team.
When we create a mood board, the work we do to build the mood board is important. We look at many different magazines; we look at things in museums and the galleries. You can have a lot of things in your head, but the mood board which will keep the spirit of what we are trying to create. I find inspiration in places I visit. I went to Japan recently and everything was beautiful there. It’s a different culture and mindset, but there’s a lot of creativity there. There is a reinterpretation of the past, whilst in Dubai there is the idea of creating a future.
What watch are you wearing now?
At the moment, I am wearing the Capeland Shelby Cobra. Normally, I prefer wearing a classical watch. I change my watch everyday it depends on my mood.
What do you hope to achieve?
To become a good designer and be able to continue to learn. I was talking to some new designers at FFWD and I learned a lot from them. I love to learn with my job and give new people my knowledge as well.
What’s in the pipeline for Baume & Mercier?
To continue to work with femininity. To build on the future of the current collection. To not build too many new lines but to focus on the current ones. There is a lot of work to do.