One of the world’s premier watchmakers is teaming up with a Swiss museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center to honor the life and legacy of a Hollywood pioneer. Jaeger-LeCoultre will celebrate the centennial anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s most beloved character, “Little Tramp”, with the “Chaplin Forever!” Exhibition from April 25th to May 4th in New York City.
Jaeger-LeCoultre teamed up with an innovative photography museum, Musée de l’Elysée, for the exhibition’s comprehensive collection of candid and cinematic images. Charlie Chaplin lived in Switzerland, where the museum is based, for more than a quarter of a century, and it currently serves as custodian of the actor’s extensive photographic archives. The candid and cinematic black-and-white images help reveal the unfolding story of Chaplin’s life as an artist in the early 20th century.
The Legacy of Little Tramp
Exactly a century ago, Charlie Chaplin became a household name in America with the debut of his iconic “Little Tramp” character. His bumbling, yet witty, pantomime character pervaded pop culture throughout the 1910s and 1920s, and today that legacy is preserved alongside the rest of his career in the form of thousands of photos and photo negatives.
Two decades after the character’s debut, Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in perhaps the most famous Little Tramp film of his career, Modern Times. The dark comedy highlights the significance of time for Little Tramp, who is trapped within the clock-like mechanisms of an assembly line and driven mad by the monotony and uniformity of industrialized life. Chaplin rotates around gears that resemble the intricate insides of a timepiece, and the film has encouraged many decades’ worth of viewers to reconsider the fast pace of daily routines in favor of the joy of appreciating each moment.
Charlie Chaplin’s Timepieces
Carmen Chaplin followed in her grandfather’s acting and directing footsteps, and today she’s working with Jaeger-LeCoultre to honor the connections that link past with present, and to reflect on film’s ability to capture single moments in time. Inheritance, genetics, and the restoration of antique images and timepieces are all interconnected, and that’s apparent in the watchmaker’s collaboration with the Chaplin family.
The well-preserved and carefully cultivated exhibition draws parallels between the fine arts of watchmaking and filmmaking. Both are exceptionally dependent on detail and creativity, and in the case of Chaplin and Jaeger-LeCoultre, both revolve around the constant pace and precious value of time itself. Chaplin once called time his “only enemy”,
Carmen helped create A Time for Everything, a short film in which she also stars alongside her mother and daughter. The film revolves around a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox watch that Chaplin received in 1953 as a welcome gift from the country of Switzerland. The iconic timepiece remains in the Chaplin family, complete with its engraved tribute message from the government of Canton.
Filmmaking and Watchmaking
“Chaplin Forever!” isn’t Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first foray into the world of cinema and the visual arts. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, whose headquarters will feature the exhibition, also hosts the prestigious New York Film Festival and the annual Chaplin Award Gala alongside Jaeger-LeCoultre. The watchmaker also partnered with the Shanghai International Film Festival to restore China’s cinematic masterpieces, with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival to support rising Arab talent.
According to their official website, the watchmaking giants have even enjoyed a ten-year partnership with the Venice International Film Festival. They are currently collaborating with the city of Venice to restore and preserve the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a gorgeous building decorated throughout the sixteenth century by Italian painter Tintoretto.