For connoisseurs of the jewelry world, Sevan Bicakci, of Turkish descent, is famous for the incredible jewelry he creates, each a work of art and a sculpture. Inspired by his Armenian roots, Bicakci is renowned for its Byzantine and Ottoman styles. He has won numerous awards for his work, which is usually mystical or magical. Recently, however, Bicakci has moved away from jewelry and, at the Watches & Wonders show in Miami last weekend, unveiled its very first collection of watches.
The introspective and creative Bicakci has spent nearly a decade designing and developing the series, which consists of 85 unique watches, each designed and created entirely by hand by Bicakci. While all watches house Swiss-made ETA quartz and mechanical movements, the collection is more about a sense of timelessness, art and beauty than it is about being timepieces. Each piece is a work of art, sculpture and history that almost makes you want to believe that time can stand still.
It is not uncommon for Sevan Bicakci to spend months, sometimes a year, working on a single ring or necklace. However, the collection of unique watches may well be his biggest project. More than a decade ago, in 2007, Bicakci visited an exhibition of 18e and 19e Ottoman clocks of the century, created by watchmakers who have worked for years on a single timepiece. This concept – that the Ottomans would spend their entire lives working on a project if needed – was his inspiration for the new collection.
“They didn’t rush into the process,” Bicakci says. “This is exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my timepieces. Let the minds of the viewers drift from time awareness into a new way of enjoying the moment.
A few years later, Bicakci got to work creating a series of watches inspired by his past that he hopes will help people better understand the rich artisan culture of Ottoman history, reinterpreted today. When creating the watches, Bicakci kept all the signature elements present in its jewelry – inverted gemstone sculptures, miniature sculptures, engravings, etc. – and has combined them beautifully in his watches.
Patterns range from Byzantine daisies, water lilies and other flowers, to winged dragonflies and birds captured in flight, and sensational geometric stories that somehow boggle the mind with their details – each a daringly beautiful statement of individuality.
The watches are made from precious metals such as platinum, 18k rose gold, 24k yellow gold, and sterling silver. They are set with precious stones such as diamonds, pearls and more. Each watch features a sapphire crystal, many of which are faceted or feature reverse-etched engravings that provide incredible depth and dimension. Each creation is an interpretation of Bicakci’s spirit and soul – woven, engraved, finely crafted, uniquely finished and beautifully crafted to tell a very special story on the wrist.
Even the leather used for the bracelets is carved or set in his workshops in Istanbul. Each watch, like each piece of jewelry or art object that Sevan Bicakci creates bears its symbol: the beautifully decorated dagger. His great-grandfathers were sword makers for the Topkapi Palace, and Bicakci took this part of his Armenian history to heart – placing a dagger on anything he designs. Even the door handles of his shop are finely finished replicas of the dagger. Indeed, the USB key he created to launch his new collection of watches is also one of the most unique in the world of watchmaking: a finely sculpted sword.
The 85 watches in the collection each sell for a different price, ranging from around $ 180,000 to $ 2 million. Along with the launch of the watch collection, a second book on Sevan Bicakci by Assouline is also making its debut. Written by Vivienne Becker, jewelry historian, the book is called Sevan Bicakci: The Timekeeper.