Bedat & Co.: Ascension of the brand
Revolutions Watch Magazine, June 2010 issue
The Swiss manufacture a founded by mother-in-son team Simone and Christian Bedat significantly ups its legitimacy in feminine timepieces with these standout beauties unveiled at BaselWorld 2010
By Wei Koh
If your eyes are scanning the horological horizon to discern the next major tour de force, look no further than the Swiss marque Bedat & Co., which this year emerges a clear winner based on its purity of design, iconic Art Deco inspired models, extraordinary value proposition, and a market-leading level of quality that includes the Swiss watch industry's only five-year warranty.
Bedat & Co.'s story begins with Simone Bedat, one of the most renowned pioneers in Swiss watchmaking. Following the Quartz Crisis that almost decimated the Swiss watch industry, Simone Bedat expressed a dream to renew the five- centuries-old traditions of Swiss watchmaking for the contemporary world. She co-founded the Raymond Weil company in 1975 with an ambition to connect the values of Swiss watchmaking with a contemporary audience in beautifully designed timepieces that expressed the qualitative hallmarks of an industry she loved. For two decades, she guided Raymond Weil to its position as the fifth leading Swiss exporter.
In 1995, together with her son Christian Bedat - Raymond Weil's former art director - she created Bedat & Co. with a vision to create women's timepieces using the design principles of Art Deco combined with the very best quality in the watch industry. Over the last 15 years, Bedat & Co. has made extraordinary strides, many of its timepieces ascending to the level of contemporary design icons.
Since the inception of the company, Dino Modolo, one of watchmaking's most respected designers, has been channeling his unique aesthetic vision and belief in reconciling comfort, emotion and function into a single entity for the wrist, with Bedat & Co. Modolo's resume includes enacting the design rebirth of Vacheron Constantin starting in 1987, and working with former CEO Claude-Daniel Proellochs until 2000.
Says Dine Modolo, "Our focus has been on women's watches since the very beginning, and this is what makes us unique in the Swiss watch industry. This is very important because while the majority of the industry creates smaller-scale men's watches and markets these for ladies, we are, from our very conception, dedicated to creating extraordinary designs unique to women."
WHAT WOMEN WANT
But what makes Bedat & Co. so immediately appealing to women? Modolo explains, "What is fundamental to designing watches for women is understanding the way women think. Women are transformative - they have different roles, at work, as mothers to their children, and with their partners. So, the watch you create must adapt to and fit all of these needs. You must bring poetry as well as function to their lives through what you create."
In 2010, no single collection of women's watches better expresses purity of design and high-quality finish than Bedat & Co. Such was the success of models like the No. 2 and No.8 that orders exceeded the previous years' by fivefold. Bedat & Co. will be present in every significant market in the world, and as of this year, has claimed center stage in the world's most exclusive doors, including New York's Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York in Tokyo. Such was the incredible buzz surrounding Bedat & Co.'s 2010 offerings that even the Swatch Group's CEO, Nicolas Hayek, stopped by Bedat & Co.s booth during the BaselWorld fair. He left so impressed that he committed to continue supplying movements to the brand based on the beauty of the watches he saw.
This year we will also witness the unveiling of an all-new Art Deco boutique concept beginning at YTL's Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to create seamless synergy between the watches and the retail environment. This boutique concept will soon appear in Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and even in the Caribbean.
Throughout 2009, on the strength of its timeless classic designs, its fantastic quality and incredible value, Bedat & Co, bucked the general trends of the recession by expanding to new markets and posting an even higher turnover than in the previous record-setting year. By never compromising in price or quality and adhering strictly to its genetic code, Bedat & Co. is now poised to reach ever-greater heights.
Among the standouts for 2010 include the sublimely feminine No. 2. Says Dino Modolo, "No. 2 is a ladies' watch in every sense. Its every facet, its volumes, the tactile quality of holding it, the ergonomics of the design, all of these are taken into consideration when creating a women's watch, because a woman needs to have something that looks exquisite, and also feels great on her wrist. Women are very sensitive to nuance, to detail and to touch. The sense of feel is the most important. My job as a designer is to link feel and visuals. The product must always realise the purpose for what it is intended. I find it funny that people often forget that the word 'wrist' comes first in 'wristwatch'. As such, timepiece's primary function is to integrate with the body of the wearer as well as show the time. Otherwise, you could just carry a clock around with you."
"I WANT MY CUSTOMER TO LOOK AT HER WATCH YEARS FROM NOW AND FIND ITAS ENCHANTING AS IT WAS WHEN SHE FIRST BOUGHT IT"
The Bedat & Co. No. 2 simply comes alive on the wrist, combining extraordinary presence within measurable comfort. Says Modolo, "In the Bedat & Co. No. 2, all the backs on the watch are curved to add 8 degree of sensuality. We even reworked the clasp of this watch to make sure it sits directly in the center of a woman's wrist."
The dials for the No. 2 are stunning, their initial simplicity giving way to evocative nuance when studied in greater detail. Says Modolo, "The dial is such an overlooked element of a watch. First, we wanted to create dials of a higher visual quality. In our new No. 2, you can see the dial that is treated with a stunning sunray finish and then after this, 10 layers of lacquer are meticulously applied to create, what in French they call, 'profondeur' (or depth). Finally, we print in three dimensions the Roman numerals, which are meant to provoke a sense of a human being walking on glass.
A watch has to show time legibly to be legitimate, but at the same time, how you execute this function is what makes a product unique and emotionally engaging." New for 2010 is the introduction of mother-of-pearl dials to Bedat & Co.'s timepieces. Says Modolo, "This year, we also introduce mother-of-pearl dials. To make them consistent with our DNA, we polish these dials and then apply the lacquer on top of them. The result is something so fine, so exquisite that your mind unconsciously registers it as something of extraordinary quality."
A REVELATION IN QUALITY AND SENSUALITY
But perhaps the most incredible expression of Bedat & Co.'s primacy in design and slavish dedication to quality is evinced in the diamond-set versions of the No. 2. Says Modolo, "At Bedat & Co., everything we do must have legitimacy and reason. And so, when we put diamonds on a case, it must enhance the beautiful elliptical forms, and not distract from it. As such, what we have done is selected 36 diameters of stones to add a sense of energy and reinforce the beautiful shape of our case. Most brands would simply set the case with one-sized stones, but this is not the way we do things at Bedat & Co. We never compromise. Your brain may not register this, but somehow you will find rich, sparkling beautifully formed watches."
Says Frank Low, the CEO or Bedat & Co, "Simply put, the watch has to be experienced in real life, it is really a revelation in terms of quality and sensuality." Every Bedat & Co. watch can be instantly identified by a crown that is either recessed or surrounded by crown guards. Modolo explains why, "The recessed crown in the No. 2 is functionally and aesthetically another signature nourish for Bedat & Co. All our watches have crowns that are in some way recessed or optimized, so that they offer maximum comfort. This is again an example of harmony in design bridging form and function, and it has been one of our core principles since the beginning. An uncomfortable luxury object is the opposite of civilization, as it destroys your mood, it robs you of enjoyment. There are so many watches that are not comfortable. Another example of our dedication to comfort are our lugs, which make even a larger-diameter watch wearable by someone with a small wrist."
Bedat & Co's timepieces are offered with an array of different movements including the best Swiss-made mechanical and quartz calibers. Regarding this plethora of choice Modolo explains, “We always look at the product from the perspective of our consumer. A lady might want a smaller timepiece and she may want it in Quartz so she doesn't break her nails adjusting the crown. But we offer our quartz watches exclusively with long lasting batteries that endure for five years as a measure of our quality.”
Pick any Bedat & Co, watch and slip it on. The quality that resonates most strongly is a sense of timeless appeal. Says Modolo, "For Bedat & Co., our roots are in Art Deco and every design that emerges must express this link. What I love is for someone to pick up a watch like the No. 2 and even though it is a new model, somehow, it feels familiar and there is already a connection there. Our watches are totally contemporary, but they also express a certain timelessness which I love. This is the key to make watches that will never age and that will only grow more beautiful with time. I want my customer to look at her watch years from now, and find it as enchanting as it was when she first bought it."
Also new for 2010 is the No. 8, a strong, visually impactful watch with a decidedly sporty chic appeal. Says Modolo, “No. 8 was created to address women with active lives. There are some great design traditions in this watch. For example, the bezel of the watch is concave, which brings a certain 1930s richness in a very contemporary design. Normally in a round watch, the case is flat, but here again we have worked the back case to ensure that it is the most comfortable women's timepiece on earth."
Again the attention to detail and almost neurotic commitment to quality is well expressed in every facet of this timepiece. Says Modolo, "There is a tiny gasket we use to retain our screws in our straps. Only we, and Patek Philippe, pay to have this element that retains the screw." Modolo continues, "This is the beauty of Bedat & Co. incredible design, market-leading quality, incomparable value and a commitment to details that you may never see, but will always benefit from." Taking his statement to heart, we've no hesitation to claim that 2010 will be the year of Bedat & Co.'s rise to ever-greater heights and its ascension into the realm of watchmaking's true heavyweights.
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