By Nirja Dutt
What does it take to truly stand apart? Romaric believes we can all craft something amazing but the all important thing to ask yourself first is, “Why am I doing this”
When it comes to crafting a distinctive voice to make a statement, it takes more than just playing by the rules. Being someone who had dabbled in the industry in the past, Romaric André had been fascinated by the world of horology for a while and knew that he wanted to do something in it, just not quite sure what that was.
Come 2019, he purchased a few vintage timepieces and started ‘playing around’ with them. “I wanted to see what would happen if I tweaked a few details,” André explained to me in an early evening zoom interview, we finally managed to slate after talking over email since early November 2022. As I fumbled to find a pen and paper to make notes the old fashioned way (the record button refused to be my friend at the time, of course), he graciously told me to take my time and ease into our lovely chat ahead.
My first question to him right off the bat was what even struck him to create Seconde Seconde? He said simply, the most interesting part of a watch to him was the one on the dial in motion—the second hand. The name of his company is based on his love for this slim little hair of time, it is a ‘second kind of second’. As you can already tell, puns are his weakness and he’s made a vow to find his strength in them.
His journey began with friends and peers applauding him for his one-of-a-kind point of view and that’s what gave him the encouragement to keep going. He humbly explains to me that he knew a few people in the industry and they were kind to him. I looked it up later, one of his first customers was watch-a-holic, collector and founder of Massena Lab, William Massena. Needless to say, the rest is history.
“The process of making these creations is always unpredictable, firstly it depends on what is available, next on what strikes me and then finally making something that can really make a connection, be it small or large, something has to click my addition to the watch. I don’t think of myself as an artist but more of a creative guy who likes to tell stories and explain them well” he elaborates as he takes me through his subversive universe of quirky horology.
The ethos of André’s work lies in respecting the history and creation that has been made for its intended purpose, “I never go against the initial product, which is why I always keep the part I have replaced so that at any point in time, one can go back to the original”
When thinking about how to expand his unchartered territory, social media was a pleasant surprise of uncanny support. “I always have an elaborate plan on how these creations will be presented. I work on collages, prototypes, phrases, packaging and visual narration that lends well to the product itself but also more importantly hits home to drive the message that I am trying to bring forth. I work on the small details and my purpose is always to play with the DNA of a certain product but not break it” he smiles.
Seconde Seconde has garnered immense interest over the past three years and now brands themselves are reaching out to Romaric André to bring in his magical touch to their creations. When I inquired on how he feels when a brand comes to him, he explains earnestly on how one can always find a turning point retrospectively, but when you are entwined within it, it’s always hard to tell. “You go and meet a person from a brand, maybe another friend introduces you to someone who could help you with another project, but it’s always a gamble and you never know what truly works out till the end, it’s a journey”
But for those that worked out (H Moser & Cie, Louis Erard, Nivada, Massena Lab to name a few) the results have been immaculate and have been taken on by audiences around the globe with immense love. Limited in pieces, each one drives home a different message, one that challenges the brand, the belief and the aura that surrounds it with a quintessential Seconde Seconde sense of humour that today has a place of its own in the horological universe.
The journalist in me couldn’t help but ask him for a favourite and André promptly said he just couldn’t not because it’s a secret, it’s just impossible to choose. I then realised how silly it was to ask in the first place (how could he possibly choose) and went on to inquire about the Louis Erard Error from 2021. I remember seeing the creation virtually (back then they still weren’t doing physical watch fairs) and I couldn’t get over how cool it was, more importantly how cool is the brand to allow this to happen! “You know for me as I explained, the idea really has to have a unique punch so when the Louis Erard team came to me with the watch I kept thinking how do I make this work? Over endless ideas and thoughts that came in my mind I was constantly thinking about how exactly the brand pronounces their name. And that’s when it struck me, let me play with a detail that is so sacrosanct to every brand and a weakness for so many people—the pronunciation. And that’s how Error 404 was born. The brand was a great support the minute I explained the idea and we went for it”
Most creations made by Seconde Seconde are unique pieces, given the nonpareil method of working, it’s the nature of what they do. But the French creative genius strongly believes in limited pieces and numbers even when they are done in a collaboration format. “I like to keep things done in my style and those can’t be done in large numbers, I just don’t want to. Just like I have to say no to individual requests”
Yes you read that right, André does not entertain personal customisation requests because he strongly believes it is his vision and that he executes at Seconde Seconde and giving into personal requests hampers that very ethos. But the future for customisation is bright and this is just the start “I like the idea of iconic products and showing them off in a different perspective”