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Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Watch for the Princess of Monaco


Ateliers deMonaco—the young, independent watch brand based in Monaco—created its first watch for ladies: La Sirene. The watch is inspired by the former Charlene Wittstock, the South African Olympic swimmer who was married Friday to Prince Albert II to become Charlene Princess of Monaco.

The watch has received official approval from the royal couple. In fact, according to Pim Koeslag, co-founder of the company and its watchmaker, it was the princess herself who jokingly suggested that the company should have a ladies’ watch. “We promised her to start the development the next day,” Koeslag said. “And we actually did.”

The design of the dial was inspired by The King Protea (Protea cynaroides), the national flower of South Africa. It has a distinctive symmetrical form with the largest flower head in the genus. Koeslag notes that the flower is a symbol of resilience because of its ability to survive tough conditions, including wild fires.

Koeslag told me in March at the Baselworld watch and jewelry tradeshow in Basel, Switzerland, that light blue topaz was chosen as the gemstone for the flower setting because it matches the princess’ “deep azure-blue eyes” and the color of water, which identifies the princess with her career as an Olympic swimmer.

The watch is housed in a 39 mm, 18k gold case. The company created an automatic movement with the use of contemporary materials like silicon and a hand engraved rotor on the reverse side of the timepiece.

The watch’s name is based on the affectionate way the residents refer to the princess. They call her “La Sirène” because of her swimming achievement and, again, the color of her eyes.

The number of watches for sale will depend on the company’s ability to find the appropriate gemstones. The watch retails for about $116,000, depending on the cost of gemstones.

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