Heard of the world’s most expensive wearable piece? Co-designed by Christophe & Co and Pininfarina (the design company responsible for Ferrari), the Armills is a modern interpretation of historical cuff bracelets that were associated with royalty and heroism in battle. Combining ultra high end jewellery with Pininfarina’s design and complex engineered materials & components, the bracelet combines old world craftsmanship with cutting edge technology.
The bracelet features an optional embedded technology module with advanced communication functions. The technology module can be charged by kinetic energy, giving the freedom of several months between charges, which can be achieved wirelessly.
MAKING THE $10K APPLE WATCH EDITION LOOK LIKE A BARGAIN, THE HANDCRAFTED ARMILLS WILL COST YOU BETWEEN $70K & $150K.
We had the pleasure to discuss the Armills bracelet with Aleksandr Bernhard, CEO of Christophe & Co.
Hi Aleksandr, thank you for accepting our interview request. Could you tell us more about the Armills and how you came up with this product idea? Why focusing on the men’s market?
The inspiration behind the Armills are the extremely successful people that I have met during my career in the luxury market. The majority of these individuals built their fortunes from nothing and I wanted to create an extraordinary trophy piece that they could wear as a symbol of their achievements. We primarily are focusing on the men’s market because nobody has addressed this market in the realm of Haute Joaillerie. Women have some very beautiful choices for symbols of achievement but men really only have one option: watches. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love watches. So we are just providing another option for those very same watch collectors to wear around their wrist. Having said that, even though the design is catered towards the male market, that doesn’t mean women can’t wear it. In much the same way that exotic cars and very high end watches are primarily designed with men in mind but women also own those.
What was the design process with Pininfarina like? Did you work closely together or did you leave them some autonomy with their work?
We actually worked very closely. I had my own design that I introduced them to in the beginning but told them they needed to start from scratch and build something entirely of their imagination. Their design process is absolutely incredible and they kept us involved every step of the way. In a sense, the final product is their incredible talent combined with my vision for the pieces.
Let’s get back to the product itself, could you tell us more about its story?
Armills themselves have been around for thousands of years. They originally were used to protect the wrists of warriors in battle but later on took on more of a symbolic meaning. They were awarded to ancient roman soldiers for valor in battle and even today, the Royal Armills form part of the Royal Regalia bestowed upon the king or queen during coronation in the UK. I wanted to create a modern day interpretation for these ancient symbols of heroism.
Please tell us more about the technology inside! What can the Armill do?
First, it’s very important to say that the technology itself is secondary to the craftsmanship and engineering marvel of the piece itself. The technology is also optional. It has two primary functions. The first is to allow the owner to use their Armill as an electronic access credential to highly exclusive partner events around the world. In essence, owning an Armill represents membership in one of the world’s most exclusive clubs and the technology components in the Armill itself is used by the owner to gain access into these events. The event could be an exclusive part during a formula 1 race or VIP access to a sporting event. The second function is to be able to use the Armill as a beacon to communicate with other people via the owner’s smartphone. We have a companion mobile app that connects to the Armill and allows the owner to be able to, with the touch of a button, get in touch with anyone they want, whether it be a personal assistant, medical professional, or family member. The most exciting part of the technology is that it is fully upgradable at anytime so it never goes obsolete and it is also recharged by the natural movement of the owner’s arm so it very seldom needs to be charged (of course depending on how often its worn but even then, only a few times per year).
Last but not least, today and tomorrow’s brands have & will have to consider new approaches to environmental & ethical responsibility. What is Christophe & Co’s position on the topic?
Actually environmental & ethical responsibility governs every single aspect of our business. I consider myself an environmental activist and aside owning an electric car and personally supporting organizations like the world wildlife fund, I make sure that the company behaves in an exemplary way. This includes only sourcing diamonds from ethical sources that can be traced to their origins. In fact, we are a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council which sets high standards in this realm. All of our suppliers are also held to the highest of standards and that is the beauty of doing business in England: most companies in the UK take environment and ethics very seriously and aside from building world class products, are responsible in the process.
Thank you for answering our questions, Aleksandr! Anything to add?
The final thing I would say is that many times people are concentrating only on the price, but this is secondary. When we set out to create the pieces, I wanted price to be of absolutely no concern, not because we wanted to build something expensive, but because we wanted to build something extraordinary that didn’t have any boundaries on creativity. The result is what I think one of the most beautiful pieces of wearable art ever created and like any true piece of exclusive art, it has a price commensurate with its value.
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