The Fiona Kruger and Tasaki skull jewellery collaboration

Fiona Kruger’s bold new collection in collaboration with renowned Japanese pearl maison, Tasaki. Kruger is young, hails from Scotland but trained at Patek & Audemars

By Laura McCreddie-Doak

Fiona Kruger is not your typical watchmaker female. She’s young, hails from Scotland, and received her induction into the world of watches from horological behemoths, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Inspired by what these brands proved was possible within the realms of watchmaking, she spent two years making her degree project of a timepiece with a case shaped like a Mexican calavera a reality. In just eight years, Fiona’s skull watches have become her calling card, and now she’s collaborated with one of Japan’s premier pearl Maisons, Tasaki, on not just a skull watch but her first jewellery collection too.

Fiona Kruger portrait
Fiona Kruger x Tasaki

How did the collaboration come about? Who approached whom?

I discovered Tasaki on my first ever trip to Japan. We were there to show our own watches and visited the famous Isetan department store in Tokyo. We were in their jewellery department and this incredible necklace caught my eye. I’d never seen anything like it, it was the brand’s Abstract Star necklace. I just thought the design was so daring and beautiful at the same time, and really unexpected for pearls (at least, from my then-limited awareness of pearl jewellery). I then discovered their other designs in the vitrines and thought that a brand who had such an eye for design, and an avant-garde approach, were not only rare but really interesting.

So, I reached out to them to introduce myself. Fast forward a year or two and they were in London for the opening of the new boutique and asked if we could meet there. We couldn’t because of Baselworld, but thankfully they were able to come to Switzerland where we had a really wonderful first meeting. We just got a great feeling from them. We shared how we work, showed them our pieces, and had a fantastic open-book discussion. The feeling must have been mutual because they invited us to Japan to visit their atelier and the pearl farms, the boutiques, and really immerse ourselves in the world of Tasaki and Japanese culture. It’s one of the best trips of my life, and that kicked off the collaboration. 

Is this the first time you’ve worked with pearls? What were the challenges?

Yes, it’s the first time I’ve worked with pearls. Thankfully having designed watches I quite enjoy a technical challenge, so the jewellery was actually a real pleasure to design. Working directly with Tasaki’s atelier was also fantastic. They have such a wealth of experience and expertise that the design process was really enjoyable.

Fiona Kruger x Tasaki watch
Fiona Kruger x Tasaki

There are considerations with regards to the dimensions of the pearls, and how best to “fix” the pearls to other elements of the jewellery designs in a way that’s almost invisible, but these are more fun challenges, like solving a puzzle, and all those details are what makes the pieces so elegant. The final thing to consider how to ensure that the jewellery pieces “sit” properly when worn. The Tasaki team are great, so it was quick to prototype things and then to refine the design – a bit like a ping-pong match. That was a real joy for me as I like to work fast once I’m in the flow of a project.

Fiona Kruger skull watch
Fiona Kruger x Tasaki

Alongside your iconic Skull watches there is also jewellery. Is this the first time you’ve designed jewellery? How did you find it as an experience? Did you have to put yourself in a different mindset to when you’re watch-designing?

It’s the first time I’ve designed jewellery, outside of me making pieces just for myself, and I loved it! It’s like learning a complementary language to the one I use when I work with watches, or even with my art practice. The mindset is the same though.  I approach the jewellery like an art project. By which I mean, I don’t think “this is an earring, this is a pendant etc…”, I think of the idea or the theme, and then translate that visually, play with scale, experiment, think about what characteristics are related to the initial idea, and, finally, how to bring those characteristics out in the designs. For instance, our skull pieces are not morbid, but more celebratory, so bringing a joyful, cheeky edge to the jewellery made sense, like the statement earring with the dangly pearl eyes and row of pearl white teeth. 

For the Chaos collection, the explosion motif is dynamic, so I wanted the jewellery to have that same dynamic character to it, which was also about proportion and positioning of different elements. The positioning of the pearl in the centre, like the catalyst of the explosion, was a way to translate this, and then the design developed from there.

Is this a one off or will there be more?

We have a lot of different ideas for our collaboration. Watch this space!

See more from the watch collection here

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