Xavier Perrenoud's interview

“Sometimes one needs to break out from design in order to return to it with renewed zeal”

An external Corum consultant since 2006, Swiss designer Xavier Perrenoud gives his vision of the discipline.

Coherence, unity, sustainability, respect for one’s heritage… this is how one might sum up Xavier Perrenoud’s view of watchmaking design. The founder in 2001 of the Atelier XJC, a workshop based in La Chaux-de-Fonds that specializes in industrial design of luxury articles, the 43 year-old designer and his team have been developing new Corum models since 2006. Parallel to this, he teaches part time at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL) for the Master’s of Advanced Studies in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship course.

How does your workshop operate?

We bring expertise and know-how in the realm of industrial design, mainly in the watchmaking sector. We design objects confidentially for our clients and follow the project from A to Z: namely from concept through to production of the prototype. We are also developing a second field of expertise in the form of an ideas laboratory or think tank, in which we conduct research without knowing where it will lead initially. The aim is to create interconnecting vessels and to introduce creativity into daily life. Sometimes you have to break out design from in order to return to it with renewed zeal. This makes it possible to take a step back and gain new inspiration – which is really important, especially in watchmaking.

Overall, what is your vision for design?

In Fine Watchmaking, the work involves going into extreme detail. One must nevertheless remain modest because there is often the question of heritage to be respected. We are there, in a way, to pass on the baton. If the work is well done, another designer should be able to take over and adapt it 15 years later. It’s about finding coherence – or unity – between the watch’s heritage and the more personal touches. It’s about creating a product that corresponds to the brand at a given time. This is far

from simple given the numerous constraints that exist in a watch.

How far can one go in modernizing a model?

If chefs change their recipes completely, clients will feel a little lost and may desert them. You need to progress gradually and subtly. And above all avoid “over-design” – in other words the kind of design excess that one increasingly finds in watchmaking. It is enough to have one good idea, not 50. One must aim for essentials, for simplicity.

Is it easier to create a watch or to rework an existing model?

It is sometimes more difficult to develop a model that has existed for several decades than to create a new one, because one has to understand the essence of the product. When one launches a new model, the most important thing is to lay down the architectural codes so that one can evolve subsequently. Design must be sustainable. In Fine Watchmaking, the vocation of a watch doesn’t lie in changing every six months as in an Haute Couture collection.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

   

How did you come in contact with Corum?

Our collaboration began when Antonio Calce took over the company in 2006. We had known each other for a long time. We went to the same school in Neuchâtel and had already worked together in the past.

How do you work on new models on a daily basis with Corum’s technical team?

It’s very simple. It’s a discussion between people who know each other well and have worked together for a long time. We design new models in collaboration with the watchmakers who create the movements. Everyone contributes their ownexpertise.

Xavier Perrenoud's interview
“Sometimes one needs to break out from design in order to return to it with renewed zeal”

An external Corum consultant since 2006, Swiss designer Xavier Perrenoud gives his vision of the discipline.

Coherence, unity, sustainability, respect for one’s heritage… this is how one might sum up Xavier Perrenoud’s view of watchmaking design. The founder in 2001 of the Atelier XJC, a workshop based in La Chaux-de-Fonds that specializes in industrial design of luxury articles, the 43 year-old designer and his team have been developing new Corum models since 2006. Parallel to this, he teaches part time at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL) for the Master’s of Advanced Studies in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship course.

How does your workshop operate?

We bring expertise and know-how in the realm of industrial design, mainly in the watchmaking sector. We design objects confidentially for our clients and follow the project from A to Z: namely from concept through to production of the prototype. We are also developing a second field of expertise in the form of an ideas laboratory or think tank, in which we conduct research without knowing where it will lead initially. The aim is to create interconnecting vessels and to introduce creativity into daily life. Sometimes you have to break out design from in order to return to it with renewed zeal. This makes it possible to take a step back and gain new inspiration – which is really important, especially in watchmaking.

Overall, what is your vision for design?

In Fine Watchmaking, the work involves going into extreme detail. One must nevertheless remain modest because there is often the question of heritage to berespected. We are there, in a way, to pass on the baton. If the work is well done, another designer should be able to take over and adapt it 15 years later. It’s about finding coherence – or unity – between the watch’s heritage and the more personal touches. It’s about creating a product that corresponds to the brand at a given time. This is far from simple given the numerous constraints that exist in a watch.

How far can one go in modernizing a model?

If chefs change their recipes completely, clients will feel a little lost and may desert them. You need to progress gradually and subtly. And above all avoid “over-design” – in other words the kind of design excess that one increasingly finds in watchmaking. It is enough to have one good idea, not 50. One must aim for essentials, for simplicity.

Is it easier to create a watch or to rework an existing model?

It is sometimes more difficult to develop a modelthat has existed for several decades than to create a new one, because one has to understand the essence of the product. When one launches a new model, the most important thing is to lay down the architectural codes so that one can evolve subsequently. Design must be sustainable. In Fine Watchmaking, the vocation of a watch doesn’t lie in changing every six months as in an Haute Couture collection.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            expertise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

How did you come in contact with Corum?

Our collaboration began when Antonio Calce took over the company in 2006. We had known each other for a long time. We went to the same school in Neuchâtel and had already worked together in the past.

How do you work on new models on a daily basis with Corum’s technical team?

It’s very simple. It’s a discussion between people who know each other well and have worked together for a long time. We design new models in collaboration with the watchmakers who create the movements. Everyone contributes their own

Xavier Perrenoud's interview
“Sometimes one needs to break out from design in order to return to it with renewed zeal”

An external Corum consultant since 2006, Swiss designer Xavier Perrenoud gives his vision of the discipline.

Coherence, unity, sustainability, respect for one’s heritage… this is how one might sum up Xavier Perrenoud’s view of watchmaking design. The founder in 2001 of the Atelier XJC, a workshop based in La Chaux-de-Fonds that specializes in industrial design of luxury articles, the 43 year-old designer and his team have been developing new Corum models since 2006. Parallel to this, he teaches part time at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL) for the Master’s of Advanced Studies in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship course.

How does your workshop operate?

We bring expertise and know-how in the realm of industrial design, mainly in the watchmaking sector. We design objects confidentially for our clients and follow the project from A to Z: namely from concept through to production of the prototype. We are also developing a second field of expertise in the form of an ideas laboratory or think tank, in which we conduct research without knowing where it will lead initially. The aim is to create interconnecting vessels and to introduce creativity into daily life. Sometimes you have to break out design from in order to return to it with renewed zeal. This makes it possible to take a step back and gain new inspiration – which is really important, especially in watchmaking.

Overall, what is your vision for design?

In Fine Watchmaking, the work involves going into extreme detail. One must nevertheless remain modest because there is often the question of heritage to be respected. We are there, in a way, to pass on the baton. If the work is well done, another designer should be able to take over and adapt it 15 years later. It’s about finding coherence – or unity – between the watch’s heritage and the more personal touches. It’s about creating a product that corresponds to the brand at a given time. This is far from simple given the numerous constraints that exist in a watch.

How far can one go in modernizing a model?

If chefs change their recipes completely, clients will feel a little lost and may desert them. You need to progress gradually and subtly. And above all avoid “over-design” – in other words the kind of design excess that one increasingly finds in watchmaking. It is enough to have one good idea, not 50. One must aim for essentials, for simplicity.

Is it easier to create a watch or to rework an existing model?

It is sometimes more difficult to develop a model that has existed for several decades than to create a new one, because one has to understand the essence of the product. When one launches a new model, the most important thing is to lay down the architectural codes so that one can evolve subsequently. Design must be sustainable. In Fine Watchmaking, the vocation of a watch doesn’t lie in changing every six months as in an Haute Couture collection.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

How did you come in contact with Corum?

Our collaboration began when Antonio Calce took over the company in 2006. We had known each other for a long time. We went to the same school in Neuchâtel and had already worked together in the past.

How do you work on new models on a daily basis with Corum’s technical team?

It’s very simple. It’s a discussion between people who know each other well and have worked together for a long time. We design new models in collaboration with the watchmakers who create the movements. Everyone contributes their own expertise.