In 2015, during her first trip to Tokyo, Scottish watch designer Fiona Krüger was captivated by the Tasaki Abstract Star necklace, then on display at the Isetan department store.
“I had never seen anything like it,” Ms Krüger said in a Zoom call from the Alsace region of France, where she lives. “He had such an edgy edge, and especially the beaded jumpsuit, which is generally considered very classic.” (The necklace was designed by Thakoon Panichgul, who served as Tasaki’s creative director from 2009 to 2017 and still collaborates with the brand.)
She said she introduced herself via email to the company, which is known for its line of beaded designs. And at the end of last year – after another trip to Japan – the collaboration called Fiona Krüger: Tasaki was introduced. It consists of two watches, Petit Skull and Chaos, each available in four design variants (prices on request); the watches are in limited production, but are not limited editions.
Toshikazu Tajima, General Manager of Tasaki, expressed his approval in an email: “We are always interested in working with artists who try to explore new ways to express their creativity while respecting quality and tradition. This time we had the chance to work with Fiona.
Ms Krüger said Tasaki, who started creating watches in 2015, gave her carte blanche, but she described the watches as “a fusion of two worlds”, hers and Tasaki’s. That’s why, she says, she first used mother-of-pearl for the dials.
Petit Skull examined life and mortality through its skull-shaped case, Ms. Krüger said – skulls are one of its hallmarks. On the dial, two oval holes (the eyes) and an upside-down heart (the nose) hint at the Soprod mechanical movement inside, while the smile is created by perlage, a decorative pattern of superimposed concentric circles.
“The mainspring and balance wheel are visible to the eye,” Ms. Krüger said. “So when you wind the watch, you can see the mainspring tightening in the left eye while the balance wheel starts to move in the right eye; it almost looks like the skull is winking at you.
The surface of the dial is covered in halftone dotted or lined patterns, which the designer says create depth and contrast to enhance the mother-of-pearl’s natural beauty. It was an idea inspired by Andy Warhol’s prints, Ms Krüger said, particularly “Most Wanted Men No. 6”.
The Chaos design explored “the scientific way of understanding time”, she said, prompting her to perforate the dial with a jagged sheen, the shape of “which everyone recognizes as an explosion of bands comics or Pop Art”. The pattern reveals the movement designed by Ms. Krüger and the Swiss manufacturer Agenhor.
“The movement itself looks like this symbol of the explosion,” she said. “The openings frame the mechanical parts, which are beautiful, and the design combines them as a functional and visual element.” The watches are only available at Tasaki outlets, although the company said it was looking at ways to expand distribution.
And are there other creations to come? “Yes, definitely,” Ms. Krüger said. “I’m excited to see if there will be watches or jewelry or a combination of both.”