For the month of February, Dubai will host The Stellar Odyssey, a major exhibition by Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre, which pays homage to the astronomical phenomena that lie at the origins of time measurement. The exhibition is an invitation for watch enthusiasts and the general public alike to discover how the mysteries of the cosmos are translated into micro-mechanical wonders that capture the universe in miniature, in order to tell the time.
Exploring the wonders that we can observe in our night sky, The Stellar Odyssey reveals the awe-inspiring phenomena that the watchmakers of Jaeger-LeCoultre express through their celestial complications, displaying mankind’s link to the cosmos directly on the wrist in a literal, philosophical and uniquely captivating way.
Following the inauguration of The Stellar Odyssey at Watches & Wonders in 2022, Dubai has been chosen as the first stop on a tour of major world cities. The exhibition will be staged in a spectacular pavilion ‘floating’ on the waters of the Dubai Fountain, with Burj Khalifa as its backdrop.
“It is an important part of our mission at Jaeger-LeCoultre to share the secrets behind the art and craft of watchmaking with the wider world by bringing our Manufacture from the Vallée de Joux to the public around the globe,” says Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. “The ancient cultures of the Middle East played a seminal role in the origins of time measurement, and we are therefore delighted that Dubai is where the world tour of The Stellar Odyssey makes its debut. It is a special opportunity to trace the unbroken line through several millennia to the exceptional legacy of innovation that has driven our Maison for 190 years and the work that we do today.”
Showcasing a careful curated selection of the Manufacture’s most remarkable historic timepieces as well as its most recent celestially-inspired timepieces – including the extraordinary Atmos clock and the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 – the exhibition features multi-media installationsthat will take visitors on a virtual journey to the cosmos. It translates the wonders of the celestial world into art installations and multi-sensory experiences, while the Atelier d’Antoine, named after the Maison’s founder, Antoine LeCoultre, shares watchmaking know-how through hands-on educational workshops based on the Stellar Odyssey theme.
Revealing the Mysteries of Astronomical Timekeeping in Eight Chapters
Within the main exhibition pavilion, The Stellar Odyssey explores the creative and cultural universe of astronomically-inspired watchmaking in eight chapters. Visitors begin by discovering the very origins of time, the impact of celestial phenomena on the way we measure it, and the origins of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise in developing astronomical complications. Each of the five following chapters leads visitors through a different cosmic phenomenon, displaying rare historic watches as well as timepieces from the most recent collections to illustrate how the Manufacture has continually reinterpreted the movements of the stars and planets in the form of intricate complications that represent, measure and even predict celestial events directly on the wrist.
Enriching the Stellar Experience
In the heart of the main pavilion beneath a geodesic dome, an immersive digital show takes visitors on a virtual journey through space and time, transporting them through infinite space and 13.7 billion years of time to reveal the mysteries of the cosmos in five episodes – from the origins of our known universe to the present day.
“Through a variety of immersive experiences, The Stellar Odyssey presents different interpretations of the cosmos and its relation to timekeeping, inviting visitors to understand it more deeply,” says Catherine Rénier. “As well as transmitting the savoir-faire of watchmaking through the Atelier d’Antoine workshops, these experiences include two special collaborations under our Made of Makers programme.”
Established for the purpose of enriching the dialogue that has long existed between horology, artisanship and art, Made of Makers is a programme of collaborations with artists and artisans from various disciplines outside watchmaking. It focuses on world-class creators who share Jaeger-LeCoultre’s values of creativity, expertise and precision and whose work explores new forms of expression through different and often unexpected materials and media. For The Stellar Odyssey, Jaeger-LeCoultre has commissioned projects by French multi-media artist Guillaume Marmin and world-renowned mixologist Matthias Giroud.
For his installation, Passengers: Through Time, Guillaume Marmin employs light, sound and movement in complex relationships that redefine traditional ideas of sculpture, space and time. As visitors walk through the work, infinite reflections and dizzying perspectives take them on a stellar excursion in which they are the protagonists, inviting reflection on the fundamental question of what time really is. For the Stellar Atelier, Matthias Giroud has created a menu of highly original soft cocktails inspired by the cosmos, taking his inspiration from the colours, temperatures and forms of the stars and planets, and blending familiar ingredients with intriguing scents and flavours from the Vallée de Joux.
In the Atelier d’Antoine, visitors can complete their journey of astral discovery by joining a hands-on Discovery Workshop that focuses on the wonder of astronomical complications and the celestial origins of time-keeping – a rare opportunity to gain deep insight and practical experience of this magical world.