Eloïse Richet is a watch designer for Baltic, based between Paris and Geneva. She received formal training and has worked for the famed Swiss watchmaker Laurent Ferrier in previously before joining Baltic. © Smalltalk
“The Flick Flak is a good compromise. It’s not expensive, and you can use it as you want; it was also a way to remind myself of where I came from.”
What was your first ever watch?
(Eloïse Richet, Watch Designer at Baltic) The first watch I bought myself was a Flick Flak when I was 21. It’s a Flick Flak in collaboration with Hodinkee. When I bought it, I was working in the high watchmaking industry at Laurent Ferrier, and at the same time, I was a student. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I was looking for a watch that I could use every day without needing to care too much about it. The Flick Flak is a good compromise. It’s not expensive, and you can use it as you want; it was also a way to remind myself of where I came from. I worked for a brand where some watches sell for several thousands Swiss Franc, but it’s a reminder for me to not forget where I started.
How did you get into watch design?
(ER) I always thought that it was a kind of love at first sight. I’ve always been into arty stuff with my grandfather; I was always drawing and taking pictures with him. One day, he told me, ‘Don’t forget that behind every object you see next to you, there is someone with a pen.’ I didn’t realise what he meant at that moment. Later, when I told my parents, I wanted to study art, they took me to various schools to see what it meant, and I ended up went to HEAD Genève, which is the art and design school in Geneva. There, I met Marco Borraccino, a designer and teacher at the school, who showed me watch designs and I fell in love.
“Geneva airport is a place for watch advertisements. My father was fascinated by them, particularly Patek Philippe.”
(ER) I also realised that watchmaking had always been a part of my life, but in a very different way. My mother buys a new Swatch for every birthday, so she has big collection of Swatch watches. I still buy her some Swatch watches. My dad used to work in Morocco, and once a month, I would pick him up at Geneva airport. As you know, Geneva airport is a place for watch advertisements. My father was fascinated by the advertisements of high watchmaking brands, particularly Patek Philippe. He was really in love with the craftsmanship and what it represents today. I’ve always had discussion with them about watches. Now I’ve worked for two very different brands. It’s interesting because I’m not saying that Laurent Ferrier is like Patek Philippe and Baltic is like Swatch but it reminds me of how my mother was a Swatch person and my father was a Patek Philippe person.
What is your daily watch and why?
(ER) It’s a vintage mechanical Lucerne. First of all, it’s a sentimental watch that someone I love bought for me, and it came from Portobello market in London. I’ve always had this love and attachment to metal bracelets. And it has a really cool metal bracelet that I love it. Technically, it’s really not a daily watch since it’s not waterproof, not even splash-proof, but I love it so much.
How did you first join Laurent Ferrier and what were you in charge of?
(ER) When I joined Laurent Ferrier, I was still at school, It was an internship, and I started as an apprentice of Laurent Ferrier. I spent two years as an intern, and after that, I was responsible for product development more than one year. It’s role that kind of like that of a designer but with a twist. I was developing the projects with Laurent for all the permanent collection, as well as for limited editions, special watches, and unique pieces. Afterward, I followed the products through the realisation and production phases, working closely with the marketing department. So, I was involved in the discussions about how the brand will talk about the project and how the product will be release. I was the only one working closely with Laurent himself. This gave me opportunity to contribute to all the projects you’ve seen from 2019 up until the end of 2023. It was truly a valuable opportunity.
And how did you move to Baltic?
(ER) I was looking for new challenges. I was designing watches within higher price range at Laurent Ferrier. Baltic was kind of new job for me. It’s not the same price range, market, or approach to selling; it’s a completely different way of thinking about a product.
“What I appreciate about working at Baltic is the opportunity to design watches that are accessible, allowing me to create timepieces for friends and family.”
What are you in charge of at Baltic?
(ER) At Baltic, I’m developing new projects and watches with the aim of introducing a fresh approach and adding distinct value to the products while maintaining respect for Baltic’s identity. What I appreciate about working at Baltic is the opportunity to design watches that are accessible, allowing me to create timepieces for friends and family.
What is your creative work process?
(ER) Good question, my creative process differs across Laurent Ferrier, Baltic and my own projects. Let’s consider the process for Baltic, for example, which is closer to my personal work process. First, we align with Baltic’s aesthetic and mood. From there, I explore what the market desires, what we haven’t yet explored, and what strategically benefits both the brands and our clients. This initial step involves significant reflection. I usually find my inspiration in vintage watches most of the time. I then transforms this inspiration to align it with the current market and aesthetic. The first stage involves hand-drawing to define shape and aesthetic. Then I move on to 2D and 3D drawings to give it volume, materials and colours all while making object technically realistic.
“Watches always give me feelings. I hope that my designs can also give such feelings to people.”
Why do you think watches are so special to you?
(ER) I have a strong interest in the technical industry in general. As for watches, there are, first of all, technical performance challenges. I also love how the watches are constantly with us and, I’m fascinated by how convey craftsmanship, ideas, messages, and movement. Watches always give me feelings. I hope that my designs can also give such feelings to people.
To read Smalltalk with the founder of Baltic Watches: Etienne Malec