A Watch Project Includes a Strap With Encapsulated Perfume

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By Margaretd. Regina

A hand-embroidered strap embedded with microcapsules of bespoke perfume is the highlight of a new concept watch, Égérie — The Pleats of Time, created by Vacheron Constantin in collaboration with the Paris couturier Yiqing Yin.

Ms. Yin, an ambassador for the brand who designed its Égérie model in 2020, worked for several months with the Parisian perfumer Dominique Ropion and the brand’s creative team to develop a fragrance for the timepiece.

“It was important to add layers of emotional and sensory depth to the Égérie collection that could resonate with my own creative universe,” she said, referring to scent as “something really unique that hasn’t been tried before in watches.”

As a concept watch, a piece made solely to reflect watchmaking skill and creativity, the 37-millimeter 18-karat pink gold piece will not be sold. It debuted at the Watches and Wonders Geneva fair last week and now is to be displayed in cities around the world, accompanied by a gown that Ms. Yin also designed.

The watch is powered by a mechanical self-winding movement that was made in-house. Its main dial features lilac mother-of-pearl accented with circles of pleats created by machine engraving. The bezel is set with 58 round-cut diamonds.

The calfskin strap was embroidered by hand with silk threads, using a motif meant to emulate the flow of water. The stitching holds in place shards of lilac mother-of-pearl as well as the microcapsules, designed to release fragrance with certain twists of the wearer’s wrist.

As for the scent itself, Mr. Ropion wrote in an email: “I wanted this perfume to echo Yiqing Yin’s approach and her exquisite sense of details, with an extremely precise dosage of each of the ingredients.” They include honeysuckle, tuberose, ylang-ylang, orange, myrrh and other elements, producing a mix of mineral and marine notes.

The project was not the first time Ms. Yin has worked with Mr. Ropion, or with encapsulated perfume: She created a dress incorporating microcapsules of another of his fragrances for the French Pavilion’s exhibition at the Dubai World Expo in 2021.

According to Sandrine Donguy, Vacheron Constantin’s product marketing and innovation director, the scent in the new watch’s strap is expected to last for some time, although the innovative nature of the project means no one is sure precisely how long.

A report from the Society of Dyers and Colourists in England said that in textiles using microencapsulation technology (for anti-bacterial uses, skin treatments and body temperature regulation), the fragrance can last for as many as 25 washes. But no one is putting a couture watch strap into a washing machine, of course.

The gown that Ms. Yin designed to complement the concept watch does not have an olfactory component, but the fabric was produced using what she described as an ecologically sensitive nano-dyeing process that embedded metallic particles into fibers, making them so iridescent that they appear to change color depending on the light and reflection.

“From the first time I saw that fabric, I couldn’t believe the shifting colors, like shifting lights in nature,” Ms. Yin said. “I wanted to push this further and this project with Vacheron Constantin gave me that opportunity.”

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