BRYAN FERRY: A MUSIC LEGEND TURNS WATCH DESIGNERROXY MUSIC WAS YESTERDAY. TODAY, BRYAN FERRY IS DESIGNING WATCHES. THE BRIT SPEAKS ABOUT THE WATCH PRODUCED BY H. MOSER & CIE THAT WAS LAUNCHED TO GREAT FANFARE AT SIHH 2016. AND ABOUT HIS MUSICAL FUTURE TOO
Gisbert L. Brunner, who was born in 1947, has worked with every sort of precision timepiece, though mainly wristwatches, since the 1960s. He has now published more than 15 books on the subject. He is also in demand the world over as a public speaker.
Bryan Ferry is a legend. In 1971, he, Brian Eno and others formed the art rock band Roxy Music, which disbanded in 1983. Prior to that, the son of a British miner studied art at Newcastle University. He then worked as a restorer and teacher.
It was this proximity to the art world which virtually sealed Bryan Ferry’s fate in creating a wristwatch of his own for H. Moser & Cie. The family business, run by Edouard Meylan and based in Neuhausen, near Schaffhausen, in Switzerland, is to produce 100 samples of this timepiece with the pink gold case. The dial still has the 12 in red, as was customary in the early 20th century. But to the left and right of the figure 6, it says Bryan Ferry rather than the usual “Swiss Made”.
I had the good fortune to have a brief conversation with the artist and musician at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva.
THE RED BULLETIN: Mr Ferry, you are know the world over for your music. Now you’ve created a wristwatch. How did that come about?
BRYAN FERRY: There’s a personal connection between Moser and I and we ended up being introduced to each other. After that we started a little warm-up project on a whim and we really enjoyed it.
Things got more serious after that…
If you want to put it that way, yes. I contributed my ideas for a wristwatch and Moser added their expertise and years of history. And little by little this wristwatch came into being. By which I mean the dial, the hands, the shape of the case…
…which isn’t particularly large and is very unusual with its indented edges.
I have narrow wrists and the watch needs to fit. Plus I wanted the watch to be discreet, not showy. Thirdly, I wanted a reference to the past, which the shape of the case expresses.
To your past?
No, to Moser’s. But obviously I wanted the watch to reflect my personal taste. That’s how the different aspects all came together.
Are you satisfied with what your co-operation has produced?
Well, I’ve been wearing the watch for two months now and (laughing loudly) I still like it. So that means we must have done something right.
Do you have a personal connection to wristwatches?
I don’t have a collection but I do have some old Rolexes. I really like them and used to wear them before I had this personalised watch.
The dial has the figure 12 in red, which was very popular in the early 20th century. What made you do that?
To tell you the truth, it just happened. There were various possibilities when it came to the design of the dial and I really loved the red.
And now we have the words Bryan Ferry in miniature down by the figure 6, rather than Swiss Made.
That was Edouard Meylan’s idea, not mine. But I like that detail. Yes, I’m pleased with it.
Can you say a bit more about how the project started?
If I remember rightly, Edouard and I first met in England in 2014. After that, we exchanged lots of e-mails with drawings and photographs. I gave my feedback on what was being done in Switzerland and all the things that were sent to me. And bit by bit the watch was created.
Did you do the sketches yourself?
No, my input was verbal. We looked at old Moser wristwatches from early catalogues and I let them know what I had in mind.
Does the watch make any reference to your multi-faceted music?
Not strictly. But my music has reflected various eras of the 20th century, including the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. And as you can see, that aspect has made its way into the watch’s design. And it looks very good. The composition works.
If you take a brief look back now, you had a very different style with Roxy Music from the one you espoused later in your solo career. Was that deliberate or was it to do with emotions?
The change reflects my perception of music. Different styles of music from different eras, but that also depended on the present, of course. Music is always developing. Our music, my music, has always expressed the developments of the time. My sources of inspiration came from the past and I’ve tried to bring those into tune with the thoughts and ideas of the current day.
Can we look forward to anything new from Bryan Ferry?
Yes, we made recordings which nobody has ever heard for the first Roxy Music album and now we’re releasing them in a sort of deluxe version.
Probably July 2016.
On vinyl, which in some ways you can compare to a mechanical watch?
No, I think it’ll be on CD. And there’ll be a DVD too.
As an experienced musician, do you think that digital recording mediums, such as CDs, are better than good old vinyl records?
Oh, not at all. Personally, I prefer vinyl. It’s much more dynamic. Vinyl is warmer and deeper. It’s better. That’s all there is to it. I’m currently assembling my collection of Sinatra records so that I can take them to my house in the country.
And then listen to them loud.
My son is a DJ. He’s made sure I’ve got a good record player. Yes, I like listening to music loud when I’m in the country. It’s a great space and I’m not bothering anyone.
Do you have your own studio in the country too?
No, my studio is in London. I go and work in it every day. I’ve got a load of synthesizers and other equipment there.
You’re also a composer and songwriter. Are there new songs in the pipeline?
Can we expect anything this year?
No. There’ll be a big book about Roxy Music. And then we’re remixing an album of my first solo performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1974.
One last question. How did the news of fellow musician David Bowie’s death affect you? You were about the same age.
It made me very, very sad. We’d known each other for a long time. But that’s life for you. Death is part of it too.
DETAILS OF THE H. MOSER & CIE ENDEAVOUR SMALL SECONDS BRYAN FERRY
18-carat rose gold, three-part
Diameter: 38.8 mm; Height: 9.3 mm
Sapphire crystal case-back
Engraved with “Limited 100 pcs”
Mechanical hand-wound in-house HMC 321 calibre
Diameter: 32.0 mm
Height: 4.8 mm
Frequency: 2.5 Hz
Power reserve 3 days
Interchangeable Moser escapement
Hours, minutes and (small) seconds
Power reserve indicator on movement side
Retailing for approx. 17,000 CHF