Blaise Giuliani, as the founder of Bohen, can you tell us about your project? Drawing a watch, creating a brand, are not simple things, and many would like to know how it goes, or even take the plunge!
You first have to be passionate about watches. That’s good because on AWDO, there are only watch enthusiasts! This may be enough to get started, but the risk of disappointment exists. To get started, it is better to have a strategic ability: either to come from the trading world or to have made a watchmaking school, or to be a designer. Depending on the case, the physiognomy of the project will not be the same.
Can you expand?
In schematic terms, I would say that anyone who has mastered the techniques of the trade will probably have to collaborate with a professional designer (unless he himself is gifted and knows the technical constraints to be respected). Otherwise, he will tend to start by copying an already existing watch (a Rolex, a Breitling Bulhead for example) while describing it as a «tribute». The watch will most likely be Chinese but Swiss Made if it receives a Swiss movement, assembled in Switzerland (at Ronda’s for example). It’s a world that I don’t know much of, but you have to have a good knowledge of the laws to avoid being considered as counterfeiting.
Second scenario: watchmakers, who master all aspects of the manufacture of the movement, for example. These are the kings of art. Their production is pure, intimate and expensive because of the nature of their work. Their goal: to achieve perfection, to propose unique and sublime movements. The weak point: the price (but I insist on the extraordinary nature of the work, which justifies the price).
Third case, the designer. Bohen belongs to that category, which I can explain in detail.
Alright then, how do you draw a watch?
Although I went to school in the field of graphic industries, I don’t think design is taught in class. Either you’re skilled, or you’re not, but you have to know how to draw. What’s more, watchmaking requires solid basics in geometry, in technical drawing and nowadays, mastering vector 3D is important. When I was young, we worked on the chart board with Rotrings. Each version of a design took a long time. 3D has brought flexibility and the ability to visualize your object in volume instantly. It is also necessary to know the technical constraints related to watchmaking. There must be books on the topic, or subjects on Youtube? I learned the old-fashioned way: on-site in factories, or by phone (with plans sent by fax!). Fortunately, the world has modernized!
Why did you choose a design with a crown at 12 o’clock?
Because I’m left-handed. Watches with a vertical crown are ambidextrous, hence suitable for everyone, and they are balanced and harmonious in terms of aesthetic. The only risk we took with the Bohen Mille Mer was having our community compared us to ZRC or Triton. People eventually saw right away that we were proposing our own design that is neither a copy nor a tribute. What’s more, our specifications are very different from ZRC’s and Triton’s, even if the finish level of the Triton is remarkable, just the way we aim to push ours.
The Stardiver is very different.
We have received many comments, and were often blamed for the amount of text on the dial. Some people even tried to photoshop the dial to share the way they would like to see it.
How do you handle criticism?
As a valuable contribution, and we especially thank the AWDO community, because it is very active, honest and involved. It’s almost a laboratory for us.
Would you like to answer to those comments? Will they influence the design?
We will consider them but we’ll have to keep our ‘signature’. Let me explain. When you copy a watch, either the potential customer already likes the original (a Rolex for example), or he doesn’t. In the first case, he won’t question anything in terms of design.
Bohen is a brand on its own, aiming for original creations. To find a place on the market, you have to get your own style, highlighted by recognizable codes. This is what the elders (which I am a member of) call the “signature” and what the young creators call DNA.
I assume you’re referring to the abundance of writing on the Stardiver’s dial, which has generated a lot of comments?
Absolutely, and that’s understandable because it’s new. Everything that is new requires time, to get used to it, to adapt. Therefore, there are those who immediately liked it and registered on our website in order to receive our newsletter (this is the prerequisite to buy later since the first registered will be the first served). Others will change their minds later (in either good or bad way). And others will not like the watch. But this is normal, just as some people hate the style of Hublot, whereas others love it. Same goes for the fight between flat watches and XXL watches. The important thing is not to please everyone. What is needed is to make strong choices, to have its own identity, unique, recognizable. And step by step, the watch will find its audience.
However, there is a big difference between the Mille Mer and the Stardiver.
Indeed, the first is a finished design, resulting from a whole year of work and corrections, while the Stardiver is a «raw» proposal, a version intended to evolve over the comments of our followers.
Really? But why have two strategies so different from each other?
Because a rough diamond attracts those who see its future brilliance. It’s a way to share the adventure with those who believe in us. Some AWDO members have become members of Bohen and want to see the Stardiver exist. Some of their comments have shown things that have not yet been evaluated, and we will take their comments directly into account. I really like the interaction that our designs have triggered and I hope it will continue!
Thank you for your time Blaise! We’re looking forward to seeing more of this project!
Brice Wagner / AWDO