There are levels of artistic enterprise in watches. At the base level are the tool watches, those that care less about aesthetics than they do the timepiece simply surviving. At the other end of the scale are the horologists that elevate their traditional craft to an art in and of itself. Then, there’s Muse, who work the other way around.
Muse is a fitting name for the brand given that contemporary art is itself the inspiration behind each of its watches. Launched in 2016 by horological engineers Pascal Robert and Frédéric Leuba, Muse watches eschew the now passé use of hands – seriously, hands are so last century – in favour of timekeeping art.
I mean that in the most literal sense. It’s the art that tells the time. Each watch is defined by a finely crafted pattern of metal across the dial, the various layers of which indicate seconds, minutes and hours. The result is an ever-changing, monochromatic kaleidoscope that dominates the dial. It’s not the kind of thing you see every day – or ever, really. The patterns themselves range from rigid, geometric lines to beautifully curved ellipses, all gently turning in time.
Muse could quite easily leave it there, backing up the idea with basic stock movements and minimal cases. That is very much not what the brand has done. The cases alone are worth taking note of, a feature in and of themselves.
In either a hefty 44mm or a more delicate 37mm, they are big, bold and multi-layered and faceted, the kind of cases you can tell at a glance are not the norm. Their sharp edges and curved, hexagonal bezels are the perfect subtle mirroring of the patterns on the dials.
The movement too is impressive; it’s ETA, but not as you know it. The ETA 2776 used in Muse watches was only produced from 1969 to 1982 and is considered a collectors movement. Indeed, it was recovered from a watch collector before being re-purposed into an intensely modern watch. There’s something satisfying about a vintage movement in a contemporary watch.
Putting all these elements together is Muse’s latest piece, the Kyrian. I’m sure you can already guess the inspiration behind the artwork here but just in case you’re from outside of the British Isles, it’s Celtic. It’s a symbol often seen in ancient art from Scotland and Ireland and has been used plenty of times since. Here it makes one of the clearer centrepieces for a Muse watch, with the three wings easy to follow at a glance.
The 44mm, sharply angled case is made from grade 5 titanium, making it far lighter than it might appear and is available raw or in black DLC with either an onyx or aventurine dial. I’m a sucker for aventurine if used well and here I can unequivocally say it’s perfect.
As Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” At least with Muse, you’ll know the time while you’re there. More details at Muse Watches website.