Timepiece Chronicle

In-depth, passionate and entertaining articles that explore the stories behind great watches

NSFW: Erotic Watches Perfect For Valentine's Day

NSFW: Erotic Watches Perfect For Valentine's Day

The Jacob & Co Caligula. Image courtesy of Watchonista.com

The Jacob & Co Caligula. Image courtesy of Watchonista.com

This Valentine's Day, why not mix things up from the usual combination of chocolates, wine, roses and get something unusual, something different, something...erotic? 

I would not have expected that I would ever have to use the NSFW tag on any article about watches. We joke online about #watchporn and the everpresent #sexpile but those are in jest, a tongue-in-cheek wink at our love for watches. However describing some erotic watches as NSFW is accurate I guess. Some are surprisingly tasteful, some are quite inventive but some are quite graphic.

I've pixelated the above image partially partly because it's titillating and click-baity but also because I don't want anyone reading who is at work having to explain the image of a mechanical threesome when they should be processing expense reports.  From here on out everything will be displayed in all it's wonderful, artistic, debaucherous detail.

The history of erotic watches go back, way back to the beginnings of watchmaking itself. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, erotic watches were extremely popular among the societal elite, an example of their exuberant wealth and appreciation for art and the carnal pleasures associated with it. However after the French Revolution and the prudishness of Calvinism in Europe, erotic watches were essentially banned in polite society. Except like any commodity that is declared "banned:, they weren't. They just went underground.  

Watchmakers still made them and clients still bought them, but the erotic displays just had to be hidden upon first inspection of the watch. The Henry Capt Musique d'Amour was produced in 1810 and has a hidden erotic dial underneath the seemingly innocent display of two monks playing the lute. By opening the dial you reveal a scene between a monk and a nun who are in midst of knowing each other in the Biblical sense. If you look to the background of the watch you'll also see this passion has spread to others members of the convent. This piece is rather special as it involves three pieces of autonomia rather than the usual amount of two that Capt used. The musicians arms strum the lute, birds appears and disappear in time to the musical chimes and of course, the lovers. This piece sold at Antiquorum for $90,000.

The Richard Mille RM69 Erotic Tourbillon is one of the few erotic watches that have a tourbillon. Housed in the usual tonneau case so associated with the brand, the erotic complication now is not automatons but what is called the "Oracle Complication" which Richard Mille says is reminiscent of a Tibetan Prayer Wheel. By depressing the pusher at 8 o'clock, the three wheels spin into action and generate a random erotic massage. The full list of possibilities of kept secret by Richard Mille but ones seen include "I long to explore your lips"  and "I want to kiss you madly".

If the hands happen to be in the way of the titillating message, they quickly jump out the way for a moment. This is by far the most interesting and alternative erotic watch I've seen. Not made out of the usual sensual gold, it was instead made of an alloy of titanium, aluminum and vanadium. The cold brushed steel and exposed screws don't scream romance novel eroitca, more closested play room. Mr Mille will see you know. Yours for only $750,000.

I like to think that the Jacob & Co Caligula has to be the first example of a parody erotic watch as the design so ludicrous, so explicit that it beggars belief that someone would actually buy it. The beautifully engraved cover, which Jacob & Co says is meant to conjure up images of fishnet stockings, is rotated by the crown at 4 o'clock to unveil the so called erotic scene (I actually prefer the watch with the cover on ). Depending on which case metal you purchased the scene will change settings, either a tropical fling or a city escapade. 

The pieces are not true automatons as they are powered by moving the crown at 3 o'clock backwards and forwards rather than having stored power of their own. I'm sure creating a system where the crown controls the action is no small feat but the horological craftsmanship requires for a set of independently powered automatons would have at least made up for the rather childishly crude display. Click here to see a video from Ariel Adams of ABlogToWatch having a brief hands on with an early version of the Caligula. Yours for only $69,000.

I'm going to share with you a direct quote from Ulysse Nardin about their Erotic Jarretiere, "The scene exposes lovers, viewable from the interior balcony, enjoying each other. Set amidst the traditional Venetian decor, the nude man and woman make love on a chaise...Strewn on the carpet in front of the chaise is a pair of high heels and the tiniest, but most proactive, arousal -the garter. A little seductress, the garter has the ability to overpower the most controlled men". You cannot read that and think that anyone at Ulysse is taking this seriously. That sense of playfulness and "Wink Wink Nudge Nudge" is probably the best thing to take away from most of the erotic watches.

Despite the technical achievements of the jacquemarts striking and thrusting at the hours ultimately you have to wonder who on earth these watches are for. It's a niche crossroads between genuine artistry and the kind of "eroticism" usually saved for naughty seaside postcards. The "erotic" nature of the watches only comes from using automatons, a time-consuming and expensive complication which can only be created by boutique brands, usually ones less traditional and more willing to take risks. Don't hold your breath for the Patek Thrustmaster Minute Repeater anytime soon. Price tag? $99,000.

In two hundred or so years will the Jacob & Co Caligula age as gracefully as the Henry Capt? I sincerely doubt it. Whilst both are equally frank in their depictions of sex, the Henry Capt just seems more tasteful, more elegant. Perhaps the hand painted, almost water-color like, enamel dial evokes a more human connection that the cartoon figures of the Caligula just don't.

Maybe it's because the scandalous nature of the content would actually have been shocking in 1810 and the society in which it was made. None of us will be around to know for sure so take the time now to enjoy them. 

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