There are several timekeeping complications that are inspired by what you’d find in the sky. The moonphase calendar is perhaps the one that we’re most familiar with, whereas there are other more complex ones such as equation of time watches.
Celestial complications aren’t new to Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre. Its Atmos clocks, for example, some of which feature complex sky charts as well as its wristwatches like the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 which has four faces, and 11 complications including incredibly complex lunar displays, demonstrate the maison’s robust familiarity and expertise in correlating celestial complications with watchmaking functions.
To enunciate its expertise in this space, the Vallée de Joux-based watchmaker has brought its The Stellar Odyssey exhibition to Dubai this month. The exhibition debuted at Watches and Wonders last year, and will now tour major cities around the world, with Dubai being its first stop. The exhibition is being held from February 4-23 on a floating pavilion at the Dubai Fountains with the Burj Khalifa as its towering backdrop.
“It is an important part of our mission at Jaeger-LeCoultre to share the secrets behind the art and craft of watchmaking with the wider world by bringing our manufacture from the Vallée de Joux to the public around the globe,” says Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. “The ancient cultures of the Middle East played a seminal role in the origins of time measurement, and we are therefore delighted that Dubai is where the world tour of The Stellar Odyssey makes its debut.”
The Stellar Odyssey’s main exhibition pavilion explains astronomical-inspired watchmaking across eight distinct chapters such as the origins of time and the impact of celestial phenomena on the way we measure it. The remaining chapters showcase rare historic watches as well as timepieces from recent collections that showcase how Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to reinterpret that theme in its current novelties. Furthermore, a geodesic dome in the main pavilion displays five episodes of an immersive digital show that attempts to unravel the origins of our universe.
Also within the exhibition space is Atelier d’Antoine, named after the Jaeger-LeCoultres’ founder Antoine LeCoultre, which is conducting hands-on workshops based on the themes of astronomical complications.
The Stellar Odyssey exhibition is about more than just watches. It showcases the work of two artists – French multi-media artist Guillaume Marmin and mixologist Matthias Giroud. These two artists collaborated with Jaeger-LeCoultre as part of the latter’s Made of Makers programme which works with artisans and artists outside the field of watchmaking.
“Through Made of Makers we are looking for different perspectives on how the practices of watchmaking, art and other creative disciplines can bring value to lived experiences,” says Rénier, “We seek out artists from disciplines as diverse as gastronomy, music and digital art, who harness great imagination to meticulous artistic processes, creating works that expand our minds, challenge our senses and trigger strong emotions.”
For The Stellar Odyssey, Marmin created an entirely new chapter of his previous installation, Passengers. The second chapter, Passengers: Through Time, focuses on celestial and astronomical observations, offering its visitors – or in this case “passengers” – a chance to explore the links between time, space and light, set against the fascinating concept of the theory of relativity.
The planning of Marmin’s Passengers: Through Time installation reportedly included extensive consultation between himself and the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble to help identify and model the relationship between time and the cosmos.
Dubai is where Marmin has debuted this new installation which consists of a kinetic device within a walk-through capsule that offers up visual and sound cues as “passengers” question and understand the relationship between time and the cosmos. “With its focus on the future, Dubai is a remarkable city – and this is expressed in a vibrant local art scene, which is very open to new ideas, genres and forms of expression,” says Rénier on the decision to debut his work in the Dubai exhibition. “It’s hard to imagine a better place to present this work by Guillaume for the first time.”
Marmin’s exhibition will be kept relevant as it travels around the world. Following its debut in Dubai, as The Stellar Odyssey exhibition tours the world, its visual and sound content will be altered and aligned with the solar and lunar calendars as well as the geographical coordinates of the exhibition’s location to ensure the exhibition is tailored to that site.
Alongside Marmin’s exhibition, mixologist Matthias Giroud has created a special menu of original soft cocktails which Jaeger-LeCoultre says are “inspired by the cosmos, taking his inspiration from the colours, temperatures and forms of the stars and planets, and blending familiar ingredients with intriguing scents and flavours from the Vallée de Joux.”
Open to the public for free, this multi-sensory exhibition is adding another dimension of intrigue and wonder to those fascinated with the relationship between watchmaking and the skies above.
Jaeger-LeCoultre will conduct The Stellar Odyssey exhibition from February 4 to February 23 at the Dubai Fountain in Downtown Dubai.