For those who rely on stereotypes and clichés, the little landlocked country of Switzerland mainly brings up three things: The Alps, cheese and Swiss precision timing. Ok, there’s chocolate too, but we’re generalizing here.
And yet, there’s more to this country than that. In light of Switzerland celebrating its 729th birthday this Saturday August 1st—and because it’s not entirely recommended to gather in large groups to celebrate—we’ve decided to take a look back at historic (and contemporary) figures who have represented our Confederation well on the international stage, for things other than dairy-based products and picturesque landscapes. And of course, because we are WorldTempus after all, we pick a watch that we felt best encapsulated their work and influence on the international stage.
There’s a reason why this man’s face has graced the Swiss 100-franc bank note from 1998 to 2019. Born in the canton of Graubünden, Giacometti’s life’s work was anything but the strait-laced, somber art you’d expect from a Swiss person (again, stereotype!)—in fact, he was particularly influenced by surrealism and philosophical questions about the human condition. His sculptures were skinny and skeleton-like with roughened edges, like winter trees without their foliage. In 1962, he won the Venice Biennale Grand Prize for Sculpture, which afforded him worldwide recognition, and his work has been exhibited all over the world since.
Alberto Giacometti © ProLitteris, Zurich
His work is, to say the least, an acquired taste. It’s illogical in shape and form, and yet, like art usually does, awakens a response in you. There are plenty of watches that, like them or hate them, evoke a reaction, and the one that first comes to mind for this is the Crash de Cartier, particularly the skeletonized model released at SIHH in 2016. With a case that looks as though it’s come straight out of Salvador Dali painting, the Crash de Cartier has a unique origin story (an actual car crash, believe it or not, bent a client’s Cartier watch so out of shape that Jean-Jacques Cartier found it to be, well, inspiring). And yes, sure, Cartier is headquartered in Paris, France, but hey, so was Giacometti for most of his life.
Montre Mechanichal Legends Crash Squelette © Cartier
Calibre 9618 MC © Cartier
Born in the canton of Thurgau, Jung developed some of the most critical fundamentals studied in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Unless you took one of those classes in university, you probably know him best from A Dangerous Method, the 2011 film depicting his twisted relationship with Sigmund Freud and patient Sabrina Spielrein (next on the Netflix watchlist, I hope!). His legacy in psychology includes, among many other concepts, the ideas of personality archetypes, collective unconscious and extraversion and introversion. Or, in other words, all those personality quizzes you take online when bored, that’s thanks in large part to Jung.
Carl Jung © Bettmann
So which watch would this man of science most likely wear? One that, like the mind, shows deep complexity and is also adaptable. The Bovet Virtuoso VII is just that with its patented Amadéo® convertible system, which easily converts the piece from a wristwatch to a pocket watch or a desk clock. The Virtuoso VII is also one of Bovet’s most complicated pieces ever, featuring a partially skeletonised movement with hours, minutes, sub-seconds, day, retrograde date, month, leap-year, and power reserve indicator on one side, and hours, minutes and seconds on the other side. What better piece to represent the duality of man and complexity of mind?
Virtuoso VII © Bovet
Virtuoso VII © Bovet
Born in Ticino, del Ponte has certainly embodied the Swiss values of integrity, making sure the people she’s taken on in court follow the law. As a state prosecutor in Lugano, del Ponte took on the Sicilian mafia, then went on to become Swiss attorney general, followed by Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals to address conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda and served as Switzerland’s Ambassador to Argentina. In 2017, she resigned from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria over what she considered inaction. She’s not one to be messed with.
Carla del Ponte © Premium Speake
In the spirit of her boldness and Italian roots, what better watch for a badass like her than the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic in black sandblasted ceramic? Sure, the brand is Italian, but the world-record breaking movement in it (thinnest automatic movement in the world!) is 100% Swiss. Its no-nonsense, monochromatic black palette would suit itself well in the courtroom, while its octagonal, straight-edged case shape gives it an edge ideal for a fearless prosecutor.
Octo Finisimo Automatique © Bulgari
Okay, I know, this one’s just obvious. But who else has better represented this little country of ours, both on and off the court, with grace and humility? With a career spanning 20 years, Federer has dominated tennis with gentlemanly sportsmanship and elegance, and still currently holds the most Grand Slam singles titles in the sport (despite a certain Spaniard tailing him closely). And despite rumours of his retirement swirling in the last few years (guess we’ll have to pray to Stan the Man next?), Federer is still going strong in 2020.
Of course, we can’t pick anything but a Rolex for Federer; he’s been one of their official testimonies for years now. And his choices of Rolexes have varied, from the GMT-Master II (better known at the “Batman”) to the Yacht-Master II to the Datejust, the tennis man has always gone for sober elegance. Our favourite? The Rolex Day-Date 40mm in Everose gold with chocolate dial (back to our dairy-based exports, after all) and baguette-cut diamonds as hour markers. The Day-Date has historically been worn by U.S presidents—so of course it belongs on the wrist of tennis’ unofficial president.
Day-Date 40 mm © Rolex