Footballer, actor and artist all in one, Eric Cantona has been a partner of Hautlence, a Swiss watch brand that sets out to bring a new dynamic to the art of watchmaking, since 2014. The former Manchester United star embodies Hautlence’s determination to think out of the box and deliver original, edgy timepiece designs. A lover of words, photography, cinema, painting and all forms of artistic expression, Cantona is intimately involved in developing unique limited-series models that carry his signature. He visited Jakarta for the launch of three new Hautlence models: the HL Newton, HL Vagabonde 01 and Vagabonde Tourbillon. Highlights of an interview:
How did you first get involved with Hautlence?
They asked me to work on designing new watches with them. I didn’t know the brand then, but I just loved it. What I love the most about them is how they try to reinvent the time. The people there are such hard workers, always trying to find something new to describe time. And I love to design. It’s very interesting to work with them in designing their watches. Design for me is exciting, the work in this industry is exciting. I didn’t know much back then but then I went to the factory and I met a lot of talented people.
What do you love most about watches?
Time is an obsession, I think, for a lot of people – all of us. You work, and it’s all about time. It’s hard trying to describe time, it can make people crazy. So most of those who can creative new watch innovations, they are geniuses and out of this world – especially the people who try to describe time, try to reinvent time, try to find another way to describe time.
Do you consider yourself as a watch collector?
No. I have a lot of watches but I can’t say I’m a collector. I don’t have a great eye like real collectors.
What was your first watch?
My first watch was a Rolex GMT, in steel, with a red and black bezel, a very old one. I really liked it. At that time, when I was young, I just bought things because I saw them and I liked them. I didn’t want to have something too flashy, it’s a very traditional watch, very eternal.
What types of watches best describe you?
Some people like diamond and flashy watches, but I prefer elegance, like an Hautlence or a Moser. But then again, elegance is very subjective. I have my own version of elegance, my own meaning of elegance.
What is your version of elegance?
My version of elegance is something that has to do with arts. Arts in many forms. Arts in watches is when I see something really creative.
Do you think a great watch is a piece of art?
It can be. When I see something special, from my point of view, because again, all art is subjective. If I feel something about it is creative, special, elegant, nice – it’s art for me. When you feel the expression of somebody, of the manufacturer, the real expression of somebody, the story behind it, then that watch is a work of art. Some of them are not so creative or artsy. But I prefer to speak about it from the point of view of its elegance.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
My father is a painter and he is always observing the world. When you observe the world, you observe its form in everything, that’s how you understand the world. Now he’s nearly 80, and he’s seen everything in life. And oftentimes, what we know is that we don’t know what we long for. And the second great piece of advice comes from my grandfather. He said to me: “We have two ears and one mouth so we have to listen more before we talk. So observe the world and try to create your own reality.”