It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Lasting Experience Of A Bespoke MEERSON Watch
In his first in-residence program at Watches of Switzerland SoHo, Alexandre Meerson shows that true luxury is not spending the most money, but in owning what no one else has.
Have you ever seen a watch you love but wanted to change a detail to two to make it perfect - like removing a date window, scaling the case size, or swapping the dial color? Alexandre Meerson, Founder of MEERSON Watches, grants his clients this very freedom, creating pièce uniques to their exact specifications. With a pedigree in fashion and design, Meerson eschews the typical rigidity of watchmaking in favor of personal preference and a blank canvas. Better yet, he’s setting up shop at Watches of Switzerland SoHo, providing personal design consultations at the watch world’s art chic ground zero.
Designing for Passion, and Excellence
Born in Paris but based in London, Meerson inherited his love of aesthetics from his father, a designer who helped create the first fashion watches of the 1950s. Meerson spent much of his career working independently for global fashion and luxury brands but was soon drawn back to the watch industry.
In a world of over-consumption, Meerson sees quality watches as the exception to a desensitized economy. “The ultimate creation for me is something that’s made for a purpose and for a person. So, what’s more sustainable than something created to measure for its owner, that’s made with the best quality materials, and that will last forever?”
The business model of MEERSON is what sets his brand apart from others, drawing more parallels to a bespoke tailor than a traditional watch brand. “Since the beginning, the project has been to bring haute couture to watchmaking.”
As Meerson put it, this approach stems from the second of two schools of thought. The first is that a customer buys a heritage watch and keeps it as original as possible. “The second school of thought, which I belong to, is that you can create your own legacy. You can inject some of your own life, of your own love, of your own sense of style into the product. So, it’s co-creation.”
“A luxury brand digs in"
And Meerson’s clients have taken him up on the offer. One notable example is his Pagani-infused D15. A pièce unique for a particular client, the watch features a 93 in place of the typical 12 o’clock, a nod to the serial number on the owner’s Pagani supercar. The case is also constructed of the same titanium as the car, and the strap, of course, is crafted from the same leather as the interior. The watch is finished off with the client’s signature engraved into the rotor.
Alexandre Meerson brought a replica of this watch and other custom creations with him to Watches of Switzerland SoHo for any curious shoppers considering a consultation of their own.
To bring an ultra-contemporary layer to the bespoke process, MEERSON now offers its clients an augmented reality app to help tailor watches to the specific dimensions of their wrists. Through the app, clients can adjust colors, change dials, and request any number of alterations from the brand’s designer, Meerson himself.
"We are in the business of creation versus the business of production"
This client-led business model runs contrary to the status quo of the industry but offers distinct advantages for MEERSON behind the scenes. As Meerson explains, “The flexibility of being made to order is that we have very little stock. We operate like a traditional winemaker, in that we decide at the beginning of the year how many watches we’re going to make, and we stick to that,” adding, “It’s not an industrial business, so we currently manufacture around 75 pieces per year max.”
And for the small number of ready to wear pieces that he designs, the business model gives him the freedom to design whatever it is he has in mind. In fact, he cites this as the main factor in his decision to leave his established career and launch his own brand. “All the other brands I’ve worked with have their collection defined by marketing. Which means they look backward - what people told them they want - and they hire people to tell them what the next trend is.”
Meerson went on to explain that the lugs of his D15 sports watch are inspired by the muscular arms of a swimmer mid-butterfly stroke, exclaiming, “What marketing team is going to tell you to build that?!"
“We reinvent ourselves with each new collection."
The playful design touches extend into dressier collections as well, a genre typically known for its sober and sterile aesthetics. Take the Altitude Officier, for example. Meerson said it took him years to design his first-round watch because he didn’t like the look of lugs that interrupted the round case shape. Instead, he crafted floating lugs to “act as hands gently holding the watch.” And the numeral font is a custom creation as well, featuring a French-style 7 paying homage to Meerson’s Parisian upbringing.
On the Altitude Première models, one will notice that the dauphine hands are asymmetrical. It’s an unusual choice no doubt, but - always the designer - Meerson notes that the larger wedge, not only makes things more interesting but allows the eye to navigate to the hands quickly, providing more readability in less time.
For Meerson, the magic of a watch is not necessarily what is constituted in metal, but rather, the intangible experience of possessing something all your own. He keeps coming back to the idea of the little black dress, explaining, “I don’t want the watch to be the subject; I want the watch to reveal the inner beauty of the wearer.” With this atypical mentality, the focus isn’t on the watch, it’s on the wearer.
MEERSON Watches typically range from $7,500 to $45,000, and just in time for the holiday season, customers of Watches of Switzerland even have the option of gifting a loved one a personal consultation with Meerson, anywhere in the world, to create any kind of watch they want.
Watches of Switzerland: How to Visit
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)