French luxury house Boucheron has been mining the Orient for inspiration since 1909 when Louis Boucheron, son of founder Frederic, first visited India and developed a penchant for its rich history and culture, and the locals' unique eye for beauty. In 1928, the Maharaja of Patiala commissioned 149 pieces which continue to inspire Boucheron's craftsmen almost a century later.
Boucheron's collection this year at BaselWorld continues that passion with three of the timepieces in the new Audacious collection - Legendary Orients and Cabinet of Curiosities, which includes the L'Orientale, Sh?h?razade; Crazy Jungle Hathi, Crazy Jungle Flamingo, Crazy Jungle Seahorse and High Jewelry; and High Watchmaking Hera Tourbillon bracelet watch.
Housing the automatic GP4000 movement from Swiss haute watch manufacturer Girard-Perregaux, the new L'Orientale features the petal motif adorning the mother-of-pearl dial carved, painted and inlayed with an arabesque of diamonds, and surrounded by a triple ring of diamonds on the bezel. The elegant timepiece is delivered in an oriental case textured with clou de Paris metalwork on its sides. The bezel's diamonds are decorated in a 'staircase' formation, with each of the three rings of stones growing in size as they approach the dial.
The Boucheron Sh?h?razade is inspired by the Persian queen and the storyteller of the fable 'One Thousand and One Nights' and comes in white gold and diamonds. The lapis lazuli mosaic dial is set with multicoloured sapphires, amethysts, aquamarines and diamonds. There is also a rose gold edition with a dial in Sonora Sunrise mosaic set with multicoloured sapphires and diamonds.
The Crazy Jungle Hathi borrowed its name from the Hindi word for elephant and drew inspiration from the elephants featured in Indian royalty's ceremonies. The watch comes in two versions. One is in white gold set with blue sapphires, diamonds and tsavorites. The dial is in a Murano aventurine glass mosaic set with amethysts, diamonds, onyx, sapphires and tsavorites. The other version is in rose gold set with orange-yellow sapphires and diamonds. The dial is in a rhodonite mosaic set with multicoloured diamonds, onyx and sapphires. Both versions feature the automatic GP4000 movement.
With the rest of the collection, Boucheron channels the versatile femininity of the pink flamingo into the 42mm Crazy Jungle Flamingo watch, bringing the elegance of the bird to life. This state-of-the-art timepiece features 0.5mm-thick sheets of mother-of-pearl to create the riverbed motif. The watch comes in two variations - one with a diamond-encrusted bezel and the other in gadrooned white gold.
The Crazy Jungle Flamingo features seahorses and coral in pink, yellow, and orange sapphires, and slices of fossilised palm tree, creating the effect of a bas relief on the dial. Framed by a rose gold case with either a bevelled or diamond encrusted bezel, the 42mm timepiece features the self-winding GP4000 movement.
The High Jewelry and High Watchmaking Hera Tourbillon bracelet watch, which marries exquisite craftsmanship and modern technology, is named after the Greek goddess who embellished the peacock's tail with eyes. The timepiece features three gold Bridges Tourbillon by Girard-Perregaux, modern interpretations of the calibre Constant Girard-Perregaux launched at the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition. The tourbillon boasts 72 components in a diameter at just 1cm. The bracelet is in white gold, set with diamonds, sapphires and Paraiba tourmalines.
This year's collection continues the collaboration between the jeweller and watchmaker Girard-Perregaux which started in 2007 with an aim to create unforgettable works of art. While admitting that Boucheron's collaboration, with brands such as Girard-Perregaux and Richard Mille on movements, has been fruitful, Boucheron CEO Jean-Christophe Bedos doesn't want this to be a regular event taken for granted. 'I don't want this to be predictable. It has to be a surprise and an expression of freedom,' he says.
With its history as a jeweller, the brand founded in 1858 has always shown strong emphasis on ladies' watches. 'It is important for us to show there is a market for ladies watches in an industry largely dominated by men's watches and driven by masculinity. Boucheron isn't simply a watchmaker - it is a jewellery watchmaker and the best techniques of a jeweller are applied to its watches. We target the emotions in people - we don't target a certain type of people,' he says.
The French jeweller has also set up its first online store to make it easier for clients to pick their favourite fragrances, watches and jewellery. 'Consumers of luxury goods are wealthy enough to have access to modern technology and are often the biggest consumers online. It is natural for us to offer them an online shop,' Bedos says.
Boucheron's online shop began as a service for its clientele. It soon morphed into a platform for everyone interested in learning about what the brand stands for and its latest creations.
'The traffic in our stores has increased to the extent that we regard e-commerce as a great complement, as opposed to a competitor, to our retail network,' Bedos says. In addition, Boucheron also has more than 50 boutiques around the globe, including one at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and two in Shanghai.