Watch Angels
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Watch Angels

In the press: “Watch Design: Cedric Bellon, sustainable simplicity” - The Good Life Magazine

By Julien Chassagne (translated from French)

Independent designer for big names in watchmaking, Cedric Bellon launched a first watch model bearing his name, twice as durable as the average of other Swiss Made series watches, following the model of collaboratove manufacturing.

Nature lover and passionate about the exploits of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Haroun Tazieff, Cedric Bellon first embarked on geological studies. But very quickly, he gets bored and changes lanes. He enrolled at the Nantes Atlantique School of Design and, after a five-year course and his diploma in hand, he launched his own agency in 2004 to work with the big names in watchmaking, from Bell & Ross. to TAG Heuer, via Longines. In addition to his activity as a freelance designer, he decided to create his first watch in 2020, marketed under his name.

In this adventure, he plays the role of the creator, Watch Angels, those of distribution platform and Swiss manufacturer, and the public … those of investor and customer: this is the principle of crowdmanufacturing or participatory manufacturing. Thus, Cedric Bellon presented his CB01 “tool-watch” on Watch Angels in mid-2020 and offered the first 150 customers to buy the timepiece, with two different movements unused and recovered at Soprod. and Dubois Depraz, at cost price (respectively 458 and 694 euros), and the following to pre-order at factory price (643 and 920 euros).
Four hundred enthusiasts answered the call and ordered a CB01 watch, seduced by its simple design — the Skin Diver case is a tribute to Cousteau and its Aquastar watch — and its ecological ambitions, illustrated by a sustainability index of 87%, two times higher than the average for production Swiss watches.

Simple and robust, the CB watch aims to meet several principles: sustainable manufacturing, the use of recycled or reused materials whenever possible, and the minimization of the distance traveled by the watch from production to wrist of its owner. In the end, its durability index stands at 87%, compared to 42% on average for Swiss made series watches.
Simple and robust, the CB watch aims to meet several principles: sustainable manufacturing, the use of recycled or reused materials whenever possible, and the minimization of the distance traveled by the watch from production to wrist of its owner. In the end, its durability index stands at 87%, compared to 42% on average for Swiss made series watches.

8 questions to Cedric Bellon, watch designer:

The Good Life: How did you come to design watches?
Cedric Bellon: I had been working for a few years in a small design agency when I had a health problem. During my convalescence, I became interested in the worlds of jewelry and watchmaking. These are fascinating universes, full of colors, details, materials … I used this forced free time to profit by designing concept-watches before sending them, boldly, to big brands. TAG Heuer and Bell & Ross — who is still my most loyal customer to this day! — were the first to give me projects.

TGL: What is the story behind CB Watches?
C. B .: In 2005, when I had been self-employed for a year, I met Guido Benedini, who was then marketing manager at Longines, one of my clients. I submitted to him the idea of ​​creating an independent brand that would have the ambition to rethink the production of watch components to create a more virtuous watch. At the time, Swiss watchmaking and the fashion industry in general were not interested in environmental issues … So I would never have had the means to develop this idea. In 2019, Guido calls me back and tells me that he will create a watchmaking project incubation platform, called Watch Angels. He asked me to launch this platform with CB Watches.

TGL: Precisely, on Watch Angels, you are inaugurating a new concept: crowdmanufacturing …
C. B .: Several entities — a creator, a manufacturer and a community — make it possible to create a complete watchmaking project, from the initial idea to online distribution. It is the community that validates, or not, the project by funding it through the pre-order of watches. Everyone has a role to play in the creation and distribution of the product. Elements of the watch design, including certain finishes, are decided by Watch Angels users, to whom we submitted a questionnaire at the start of the crowdmanufacturing campaign.

TGL: Regarding the watch, you place as much emphasis on the “tool” aspect as on durability. However, the second subject is much more selling at the moment …
C. B .: I’m sick of the ultra-complex world we live in, surrounded by connected objects. I like the simplicity of a manual tool, a pencil, a brush, a knife, an ax … I want to put this forward, because when an object is simple in its design and intuitive in its use, it has more vocation to be durable than a complex object destined for obsolescence. Also, we are not addressing the general public, but watchmaking enthusiasts. So we can talk about the environment, but first we have to “talk about shows”.
Watch designer Cedric Bellon is the first creator whose brand was launched using the Watch Angels platform.
Watch designer Cedric Bellon is the first creator whose brand was launched using the Watch Angels platform.

TGL: And how did you manage to convince them that the CB watch was a good “tool watch”?
C. B .: The design, first. For me, something that lasts over time is something timeless, so the design is simple, well-proportioned, the watch is neither too big nor too small. Then, the “tool-watch” is, by definition, a watch for life, robust and simple, not an object that you keep in a safe. What is attractive about it is not only its look, but also its history, and the principles of sustainability that go into its manufacture. An example: the dial. It symbolizes the intellectual and industrial approach of the project. Most often, this is brass soaked in several chemical baths. It is polluting and consuming energy. I figured we could make dials out of steel, a recyclable material, although it’s rare to use it that way. Finally, with Watch Angels, we succeeded in developing a raw brushed stainless steel dial. This search for durability has guided all our material choices, except the movements — which are still unused parts -, glass, Luminova and gaskets.
“A watch for life, robust and simple”
TGL: How is it different to work under your name rather than for brands?
C. B .: As with my partners in traditional watchmaking, I had to adapt the design to the movements. But, for the CB watch, I didn’t have to adapt to the universe of a brand, I put more of myself into the design of the watch. It’s still very imperfect, you have to create a universe, and it is being built bit by bit, but it’s much more personal.

TGL: Have you noticed any changes in the “green” habits of the big houses?
C. B .: Not at all! Some decision-makers in large groups may be affected in their personal capacity, but they are stuck in a system of marketing and financial strategies — energy-intensive and chemical processing of materials, high-volume manufacturing — that do not match the protection of the environment. ‘environment. But inevitably, they’re going to come there, it’s going to become a business trend and a selling point. At the moment, I see a lot of greenwashing, attempts by some houses to show that their image is attached to environmental values ​​that are more akin to a way, by donating funds, of redeeming a virginity. It’s not a bad thing, it allows foundations and associations to do a good job, but it’s not my vision of sustainable watchmaking.
Simple and robust, the CB watch aims to meet several principles: sustainable manufacturing, the use of recycled or reused materials whenever possible, and the minimization of the distance traveled by the watch from production to wrist of its owner. In the end, its durability index stands at 87%, compared to 42% on average for Swiss made series watches.
Simple and robust, the CB watch aims to meet several principles: sustainable manufacturing, the use of recycled or reused materials whenever possible, and the minimization of the distance traveled by the watch from production to wrist of its owner. In the end, its durability index stands at 87%, compared to 42% on average for Swiss made series watches.

TGL: What are the next steps in the development of CB Watches?
C. B .: I am very happy with the positive response the project has received, as can be seen from the pre-sales. From now on, we will get down to manufacturing everything that has been ordered before offering new watches for sale, at the end of the spring, when the first deliveries will begin. And if it works, then we’ll start working on a second model. I will continue to work for other brands because I love it, but CB Watches allows me to do my job allows me to practice my profession in a more virtuous way.

Read the article in French at https://thegoodlife.thegoodhub.com/2021/07/01/design-horloger-cedric-bellon-la-simplicite-durable/

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