Fiona Krüger’s Celebration Skull: Life, Death, Mortality . . . And Watches
by Simon Cudd
Fiona Krüger is a young Scottish artist and designer. She utilizes her love of art to make fantastic timepieces inspired by both the seventeenth-century skull watch of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Mexican celebration of Día de Los Muertos.
I had the pleasure of meeting Krüger last year, when she happened to be in the U.K. visiting various retailers and friends.
She had popped into the shop of well-known London watch retailer Marcus, where her Skull watches had been well received. A friend tipped me off, saying that I needed to see them as quickly as I could, so I contacted Krüger and made plans to meet up several days later. We ended up chatting for hours over coffee and comparing stories about art college.
Krüger attended art college at the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Switzerland, near where she currently resides in France, obtaining a master of advanced studies in design for the luxury industry. I took great pleasure looking through her sketchbooks, where she draws, creates, and gathers inspirations for her watches in a very hands-on and creative way before going to the three-dimensional and computer-aided design mediums.
Krüger’s early collaboration with other watchmakers was a key element for her to get a start. Finding the right people to mentor her, providing suggestions and criticism when needed, has been enormously beneficial and can be viewed as being as important as her inventive design itself.
On this front, she can largely thank Peter Speake-Marin for his generous accessibility in terms of getting her started down the right path in a new industry. He even helped out with technique and components (some of which are visible on her prototype watches such as the typical Speake-Marin pleated crown and the blued Foundation hands).
I recently caught up with Krüger again in London to chat about life, art, and watches.
She has further developed her initial skull designs, consisting of the twelve-piece limited editions of the original Skull watch (now sold out) and Black Skull, to now include the brightly colored Celebration Skull, which she launched to coincide with Baselworld 2015. This watch is limited to just 24 pieces.
Krüger also revealed plans for 2016, which include some new designs and, potentially, a smaller case. She also mentioned that there will be some completely new watches exhibiting that quirky, artistic way of hers.
Each of Krüger’s watches, all of which are powered by a modified TechnoTime movement with five days’ worth of power-reserve, is handmade in Switzerland.
The Skull’s hand-decorated, triple-layered, dial mirrors the aesthetics of the movement, which has been modified to her specifications. Housed in a stainless steel skull-shaped case, the watch is complemented by a handmade leather strap.
Fiona has one of the most interesting websites when it comes to the explanation of her timepieces. She details her influences and provides sources of inspiration from fabrics, color, and culture, all the way through to the “mocking up” of models and 3D printing.
This seems very inspired from someone who hasn’t gone the conventional watchmaker route, or indeed worked with or for another watchmaker or brand. Perhaps that’s why.
I particularly love watching the video above of Krüger as she draws her skull design.
“The synonymous themes of mortality and time are the starting point for Skull,” Krüger writes on her website. “I wanted to design a piece that highlights the beauty and wonder of the mechanical movement. In my opinion, the movement is what is truly fascinating about a watch and yet in so many timepieces it is hidden away.”
She found the most direct way of reinterpreting these themes was by using the shape of a skull. This symbol of mortality is one that has been used in horology since the seventeenth century across various cultures. “Using the iconic skull shape as the starting point, I knew I could create a timepiece that celebrates what I find so fascinating about the history of watchmaking: the mechanics of the movements, the decoration, and the traditional artisanal production techniques,” she continues.
Coming from a fine art background, rather than an horological one, her approach to watch design seems quite poetic.
If you get the chance to see her watches in person, do have a look as they are most beguiling.
For more information, please visit www.fionakrugertimepieces.com.
Quick Facts Celebration Skull
Case: 57.4 x 41.3 x 10.9 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic TechnoTime TT738 with modified, skeletonized bridges and custom components, 5 days power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 24 pieces
Price: 25,800 Swiss francs without tax