Blancpain is a purveyour of timeless elegance. Founded in 1735 and then revived by Jean Claude Biver, who leaned into the brand’s immense history with motto – “Since 1735, there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be” in a remarkably prescient manner, the Le Brassus manufacture recently unveiled a legendary 1930s art-deco styled high jewellery watch belonging to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe.
From now till 23rd November 2019, watch lovers in New York city should take a moment or two to explore the sensuality and heritage at the Timeless Elegance exhibition on display at Blancpain’s flagship boutique.
“We are particularly proud to present for the very first time this cocktail watch owned by Marilyn Monroe. Especially since Marilyn Monroe had very few pieces of jewelry, despite the memorable Diamonds are a girl’s best friend which she loved to sing.” – Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Blancpain
In addition to Marilyn Monroe’s exquisite art-deco Blancpain high jewellery watch, visitor’s to Timeless Elegance can catch a curated selection of photographs of the beloved American actress as well as some of her personal memorabilia.
The slender geometry and structured setting of this precious watch embody a perfect balance between avant- gardism and elegance, both day and night.
The watch has an inimitable manner of combining charm, ingenuity and a unique temperament. Like Marilyn Monroe herself, is iconic with a timeless aura.
With 73 diamonds (71 round diamonds and two marquise diamonds), the Art Deco-inspired 1930s model was purchased by Blancpain during an auction of the estate of Lee Strasberg, Monroe’s famous acting coach and mentor. The high jewellery Blancpain women’s timepiece is hypothesised to be a gift to Marilyn Monroe from her third husband, author Arthur Miller.
Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels on the FHF 59 calibre
The beating heart of Monroe’s bejewelled Blancpain art deco timepiece bears the inscription of “Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels” on plate of its FHF 59 movement. In 1926, the Le Brassus Manufacture entered into a partnership with John Harwood and started marketing the first automatic wristwatch, heralding new exquisite timepieces like Monroe’s art deco watch but in 1932, two centuries of Blancpain family management ended when Frédéric-Emile Blancpain’s sole daughter Berthe-Nellie had no interest in watchmaking.
In the end, two associates close to Frédéric-Emile, Betty Fiechter (one of the first woman Chief Executives of the industry) and André Léal, took over the company and as required by law, changed the name to a phonetic anagram of Villeret – and the resulting company was named Rayville – Blancpain continuing the brand’s DNA and personality. Ms. Fiechter is believed to have been responsible for the creation of Monroe’s Blancpain cocktail watch when she kickstarted many women’s collections with her unique perspective and creativity, among them the Blancpain Rolls and the Ladybird in 1956 equipped with the smallest round movement of the time. During its zenith towards the end of the 1950s, Rayville – Blancpain was producing more than 100,000 watches per year.
Vintage model Ladybirds from 1956
The modern incarnation of the Ladybird collection
Monroe’s bejewelled timepiece was left to the Strasbergs after her tragic demise in 1962 and the 1930s high jewellery women’s timepiece had been left untouched along with the rest of her personal belongings.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Blancpain to celebrate the one and only Marilyn Monroe. Blancpain’s history of luxury craftsmanship and innovation withstands the test of time and aligns perfectly with Marilyn’s enduring legacy.” – Jamie Salter, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Authentic Brands Group, owner of the Monroe Estate
Monroe’s 1930’s Blancpain cocktail watch is among the first of the brand’s automatic wristwatches for women, and at the time, the brand rose to prominence for women’s fine watchmaking along with other famed Art Deco design pioneers like Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. At Blancpain’s Timeless Elegance exhibition in New York City, visitors can also see historic personal items of the Hollywood star including: dresses, books, a director’s chair, a Screen Actors Guild membership card, stationery and receipts from her New York experience.
The link between the star and the Maison is also revealed through a small aesthetic nod gracing Blancpain’s Moon Phase watches. Marilyn Monroe’s historic beauty mark epitomizes sensuality and glamour.
In the 1980s, when Blancpain updated the moon phase indication which has since become a signature of the Manufacture it gradually became distinctive thanks to the smiling face of its moon.
Since the 2006 launch of the Women collection, all the ladies’ Moon Phases models feature a female face adorned with a star-shaped beauty mark. Like the Hollywood star, Blancpain’s women’s models encapsulate the same quintessential uniqueness and timeless elegance.
Marilyn Monroe’s jewellery Blancpain watch will be on display at the Timeless Elegance exhibition, on show from now through November 23rd 2019, in Blancpain’s Boutique at 697 Fifth Avenue, 10022 New York, USA.