The DNA of the Charriol brand is the unique cable design, handcrafted in Switzerland

© Written by Rachael Taylor for BaselWorld Brand Book 

When Philippe Charriol first set out to create a watch brand in the 1980s he was looking for a design concept that would be unique; something that had never been done before; something that would stand out. The idea that landed the French entrepreneur his success was indeed unique, although it was not exactly a brand new design.

Charriol was living in London at the time and on a trip to the city’s British Museum he found his muse: centuries-old necklaces made by the Celts. These ancient tribesmen had woven together twisted wires of gold to create a material not too dissimilar to cable and used it to adorn themselves.

For Charriol, it was the angle he had been looking for. “The uniqueness of a brand is very important as that’s how you recognise a brand,” says Charriol. “Our material is so distinctive that if one has a watch with a cable bracelet then it’s basically a Charriol, that’s it. It’s the DNA of the brand.”

Charriol took the cable concept and used it to create a watch strap that is totally unique in the marketplace. The success of the watch lines, which also sometimes also use cable to decorate the cases, led to cable jewellery collections, as well as cable-accented accessories such as belts.

Like its historical predecessors, Charriol has crafted cables in solid gold – a labour-intensive process that requires goldsmiths to twist the cables together by hand – but the majority of its cable designs are created using steel.

The steel cables are crafted in Switzerland and heated and formed to achieve the correct shape and colour. A palladium plating is then lavished on to the metal to protect it against corrosion and to give the cable a uniform, lustrous finish.

Over the years the product has remained pretty much the same, although technological advances, such as PVD, have allowed the brand to experiment with new colours. “We have been able to treat the steel to develop different colours – we have black, bronze, a gold colour – so it gives us options, just as people have leather straps or crocodile straps in brown, beige or black.”

And in the future Charriol says he has no plans to “reinvent the wheel” but will keep his unique product moving forward with new watch designs, line extensions and fresh jewellery collections. He also teases that at BaselWorld, Charriol will present a brand new colour, but you’ll have to visit his stand to find out what it is.

Read the original interview in the BaselWorld Brand Book 2014 here (pages 92-93).

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