Is there an invisible connection between a revered Celtic dog and Neuchâtel? Well, there is if we look at it from the cultural and historical point of view of the Neuchâtel-based brand. No other Swiss watchmaking brand has ever gone so deep in its quest for reference so as to get to past civilizations and all their signs and symbols.
Celtic vestiges in Neuchâtel
The Celtic Dog model, a watchmaking masterpiece that the brand will introduce at BaselWorld 2015 in a limited edition of 41 numbered pieces, is good proof of what we are saying. Indeed, we find numerous references to the animal the ancient Celts gave the lunar symbol of a warrior or the messenger of the hereafter on both the case and the dial of this exceptional timepiece.
The surface of the solid white gold dial is stratified in three layers and covered with blue enamel. On it, we find Celtic Dog reliefs covered in white gold appliques in a background of La Tène style decorative interlinking. Yet, as it turns out, La Tène also refers to a Neuchâtel district that saw the light in 2009 from a fusion of several districts. They were all situated in a region where diggings carried out from 1857 revealed the amazing amount of Celtic vestiges in the area. Incidentally, “La Tène” is so closely linked to the history of ancient Celts that it gave its name to the second Iron Age.
Faithful to its Neuchâtel roots, Kerbedanz aims to “give meaning to beauty” by offering a blend of symbolisms. This is an original approach to design that separates the brand’s products from the rest in the high-end mechanical watchmaking sector. The entirely hand-made dial and case of the Celtic Dog were designed, produced and decorated by in-house craftspeople and artists. They claim to both have inherited the oldest traditions and skills of the goldsmith trade that are part of the brand’s family history and to master ancient watchmaking techniques.
Tourbillon movement and hand-made finishes
KRB-01, the manual-winding mechanical caliber Tourbillon, is a true jewel: it features 27 rubies, 28,800 vibrations per hour (therefore, an escapement frequency of 4 Hertz) and a double barrel that generates a 120-hour power reserve. It was produced by Technotime and was customized according to the specifications given by the brand. The tourbillon’s frame was placed on the southeast, between 7 and 8 o’clock. The winding stem, however, is between 1 and 2 o’clock; that is, in the direction of sunrise, which, from the northern hemisphere and depending on the solstice, is the northeast. This is yet another strong symbol. The architecture of the movement’s back, protected by an anti-reflective treated sapphire glass, has also been customized in subtle and refined details by Kerbedanz’s master engravers. This Kerbedanz timepiece is water-resistant to 50 meters and houses secret visual or subtly visible allusions to its Celtic theme in its 18K white gold case. The book, “Livre de Naissance” (creation book), is provided with the piece. It is a benchmark that regroups and tallies all the symbols and legends that are associated with Celtic dogs.
Family legend turned brand for MIP
When current CEO Tigran Kerbedanz founded the brand, he intended to pay an eponymous tribute to his ancestor, who started a dynasty famous for its skill in highly traditional goldsmith. He was appreciated by both prominent figures and his neighbors of the time and was an expert in materials. He was also famous for his kindness and open-mindedness as well as his self-rigor and thoroughness in carrying out his work. The etymology of his name – the heirs of Karabed – is linked to notions such as ‘leader’ and ‘precursor’. As it turned out, these two terms were perfectly coherent with Tigran Kerbedanz’s non-negotiable vision for the brand: ‘leader’ in its hardline attachment to the values of Swiss watchmaking finish, and ‘precursor’ in its concept of taking universal facts and their eternal symbols to new, unexplored heights.
Kerbedanz has sold over a hundred models that were designed by its CEO and produced under the aesthetic supervision of CDO (Chief Designer Officer) Aram Petrosyan. Now, the brand is focusing on creating unique pieces and ultra-limited series that explore the history of civilizations.
That means portraying historical facts together with cultural and geographical insinuations. These will all also include context-specific allusions, which are in some cases limited to their place of origin and in some others more universal. Hence, the brand’s rare and precious timepieces become digests of initiation routes.
Kalust Zorik, managing director of Kerbedanz, coined the term MIP (Most Important People as opposed to the cliché VIP) to designate the unclassifiable customers who have already discreetly bought one of their pieces. The term also extends to future customers. We are talking about statesmen, directors; well-known figures who, irrespective of their specialist or influential fields, make sure that the civilization they are building and refining leaves an imprint on world history. And that imprint should also be punctuated by symbolic references. Kerbedanz will no doubt draw inspiration from those references and allegories in the next several hundred years to create new exclusive timepieces.