Art in the Detail

May 13, 2020 · 7 min read

I made a book for the most prestigious watch showroom in Oman. Khimji’s Watches sold some of the most coveted brands in the world, including Rolex, Cartier, Piaget, IWC Shaffhausen, Chopard, Chanel, Versace, Bulgari, Tiffany and others.

I thought it didn’t make sense talking directly about the products. The showroom would be overflowing with product brochures anyway, and no one needed to see another photo of a Rolex.

Instead, I focused on the construction and materials that made the showroom one of the most luxurious in the Gulf States. And I tied this fanatical attention to detail to the products it hosted.

The color of the paper used matched the dull gold accents of the showroom.

We host the best brands in the world

But we’d rather talk about the little things

It takes four layers of glass and etching to recreate the sea

Seawater might have been easier to work with. Instead, we used four sheets of glass.

The one right at the back is a mirror with ripples spray-painted onto it. The first and third sheets have etchings in front of and behind the glass. The second, sandwiched between, has glass on both sides of its etching. And while the entire installation is inspired by the ocean depths, we urge you to try the real thing.

Preferably with your Rolex Deep Sea, certified to withstand pressure up to 3,900m underwater.

The little red box got so famous it deserved a wall to match

Some of our customers prefer white gold in the Ballon Bleu, while others favour rose gold in the Santos de Cartier.

But they all have one colour in common, and that is the deep red that a Cartier box comes in.

Over generations it has got so famous it is instantly recognised as the sign that you are about to open an exceptional present. We thought it fitting such a signature colour adorn our walls.

More than a century after Alfred Cartier moved his shop to 13 rue de la Paix and made it the most prestigious of Parisian addresses, we are proud to host the boutique in our new showroom, with lacquer-finish walls. Complete with golds of yellow, white and rose, and that most beautiful of reds.

The pattern in the parquet floor in Vienna was so beautiful we carved it in stone in Muscat

The design you walk over in Muscat was first seen on the parquet floor in the first Chopard boutique in Vienna, in 1889.

The shop at Kohlmarkt 16, still open today, was originally a chemistry laboratory. But its floor, which sported seven different types of wood, was so gorgeous Chopard left it intact when it took over the space and made extensive renovations.

More than a century later, you will find the motif of squares surrounded by a delicate floral pattern in Oman, built true to its original design, but now in marble.

Limited editions deserve pillows

According to one writer, “The pen is the interpreter of the soul: what one thinks, the other expresses.”

Which is why our premium collection of Caran d’Ache writing instruments is a lot more than just pen and ink. They’re works of art. Even the displays that hold such pieces are as carefully thought of, with hexagonal windows, trays that seem to float in the centre and, in a final flourish, cushions for the pens.

And the pens themselves? Sure perfection.

The antique French mirror is so beautiful you don’t just look into it

You look at it

At Khimji’s Watches, the art isn’t just in the glass cases. It’s on the wall too.

Because Chopard didn’t bother building a beautiful mirror. It simply bought the original 18th century piece at an auction in Paris — as ‘art 001 / mirror Impero 800’ — and flew it to Oman.

What better way to reflect one’s passion for craftsmanship and authenticity?

Tread carefully: art underfoot

When working with something as special as marble, hammering isn’t an option. You have to sandblast the stone into shape. And then sandblast the other stone to fit in exactly over the first one. That means water and sand are directed with so much force they wear the stone into any pattern we want.

After that, we spend days polishing the ground so you can walk all over it.

The watches go to the ends of the Earth

But we prefer to keep them on leather till you get there

Our watches have gone to Everest, the Sahara and both the poles. They’re built to outlast the heroes who wear them.

But even the famous Rolex case built out of a single block of 904L steel that can withstand the pressures of the deep sea gets special treatment at our showroom.

That’s where the leather comes in. We love it so much we’ve even used it on the walls.

Luckily, our names are so low-maintenance they don’t need polish

They’re gold-plated

Yes, that’s correct. We’ve got a lot of precious metal on display. But not all of it is on sale.

Take the brand names and logos fixed to the walls, for example. When we say they’re gold we aren’t referring to the colour. We’re talking about the metal. Anything less would be a compromise.

You know the product is superlative when its showcase is called the Magic Cube

At Chopard, the jewellery is so special they had to invent a case to display it in. It took nine months to develop, to try out various light types and sources, mirrors and glass and wood and bulbs.

That effort led to the Magic Cube, where the product appears to float on thin air when it is surrounded on all sides by light. Encased in a pillar of lacquered walnut, 16 fibre optic cables collect light from a very special bulb, and emit their beams through the base of the cube. This light flows over the sides of glass until it reaches the mirror on the underside of the top panel, and bounces back.

An idea made up of many technicalities, yet so simple it could almost be magic.

It takes 0.7mm of walnut to cover the walls.

And another 0.7mm to cover the sides you’ll never see

For us, wood is an element that is alive, forever absorbing humidity in the air, contracting and expanding and bending. To work with this, we covered our wall panels on both sides, like a sandwich, so the movement of one side will always be matched on the other.

The trunk of a tree is carved into sheets just 0.7mm thin, and then cut into panels in Europe to match the shape of our walls. To the millimetre.

Such balance, we feel, is as essential as the movement of the watches we sell. Even when it involves the parts you’ll never see.

Our chandelier was custom-built with 13,000 pieces of crystal

We aren’t selling it

Our Swarowski centrepiece culminates in a single 70mm crystal ball, and is at its most complex with two layers of curtains drenched with crystals, each reflecting light delivered through fibre optic cables. The beam changes colour and, mimicking the hands of our timepieces, rotates through the chandelier.

We specially comissioned this exceptional one-of-a-kind piece to shine down on our most prized products, to show them in the very best of lights.

We hope you enjoy the show.


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