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Q&A: Magali Métrailler, Ball for BMW

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Magali Métrailler, the designer behind Jaeger-LeCoultre’s masculine Master Compressor talks about her work on the Ball Watches for BMW watch collaboration.

What’s your background and how did your work with Ball and BMW come about?

I started out by studying architecture and went on to obtain a diploma as an industrial designer at IED in Milan. My original intention was to work with furniture but since I was attracted by making detailed studies of technical and miniature features, when I returned home I started to take an interest in watchmaking. My mentor was my father-in-law, who was a watchmaker who had followed in his father’s footsteps and had a passionate enthusiasm for timepieces. Disappointed that his son hadn’t wanted to continue the family tradition, he was delighted by my own interest and curiosity, and so the torch was passed to me. Working for Ball appealed to me. It is a young, dynamic team with an innovative spirit. Being part of the partnership made me feel like starting a new adventure.

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Do you have a long history with watches and were you aware of Ball as a brand?

I have been working in the watch industry for several years now. I discovered Ball Watch while working for Jaeger Lecoultre, branch of Richemont. Ball Watch is a growing company with a great energy and a creative spirit that will lead to a bright future. It is by bringing many innovations to the watchmaking industry that the brand became well-known.

In terms of design, what were the aims in terms of the collaboration and when did it begin?

The ultimate goal was to create a collection that would reflect the values and designs of both universes. There are Ball Watch details that are in total harmony with BMW, such as:

– Good visibility by day and by night, with contrasts between black, gray and silver, and the use of the famous gas tubes for optimum legibility at night.
– A watch case with the dynamic, robust lines of the Ball Watch shot through with a line – a line of total lightness – an omnipresent detail in BMW bodywork.

The colour and style of the indications are inspired by both BMW dashboard instruments and Ball Watch dials, as is the design of the lettering, the 270 degree display format found in the automobile world, and all the counters in general.

The hour-markers adapt the forms of the applied figures found on BMW bodywork combined with those of the Ball Watch gas tubes, the central guilloche work is reminiscent of the car radiator grilles, and the circular-grained satin finish recalls that of the brake disks.

Certain ergonomic details such as the structure and finish of the crown are similar to the buttons found in BMW interiors.

Did you find there were any challenges and if so, how did you overcome them?

Starting a new project is always challenging, especially when it involves two different brands. The Ball for BMW collection required a lot of research. It’s a merging of Ball Watches and BMW’s DNAs. The process involved channeling information, listening, reading, observing and examining. Curiosity is an essential quality you need to acquire to help you understand and be able to create. I did a lot of thinking, visited BMW museum in Munich and took part in various meetings to completely get the right inspiration for the collection.

What were you most proud about in terms of the results and how have they been received?

I was impressed by Ball Watch’s capacity to reproduce my work. Being able to conserve the graphic work of the designer through the final product is always a big challenge. BMW’s lines, textures and colors that inspired me are completely present in the Ball for BMW collection, it definitely is a success that pleases all automobile and watch lovers.

Do you have any further plans to work with Ball and BMW and if so, what will that entail?

We are currently working on new designs – keep your eyes open for the next Ball for BMW model.

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