Chris Alexander, also known as Creo Design, is a professional artist and designer who has worked across multiple media, with a focus for watch dial art.
Hi Chris, what’s your daily watch and why?
An Omega Speedmaster Pro 3570.50. This watch means an awful lot to me even though it has only been in my possession for about three months. The story goes way back to when I was around 4-5 years old and spending time with my late father. He was a qualified astrophysicist and taught me all he knew about space. And the clearest and fondest memory I have of him was spending hours looking at the moon and hearing about all the facts and statistics. My father was also a keen horologist and collected several clocks and tinkered away with them in his spare time.
Fast-forward 30 years, and I found myself falling in love with watches all over again while painting them. My appreciation for horology was of a keen outsider — someone who admires them in a store window but never purchased. So spending a lot of money on a watch just didn’t make sense to me until I started working on them. Then it all made sense, and I had to get a Moonwatch. It is all to do with the moon and my connection with my father. Being the moon watch has a deeper meaning for me, and brings me closer to the memory of my father. Adding my custom style to the watch is a way of sharing what I do with the memory of my father, so every time I look at my watch I think of us.
What else is in your collection? Have you got a favourite?
My collection is very sparse: it includes the Omega Speedy Pro, Seiko SARB065 and Seiko SARX035. Working with amazing watches all the time I don’t have the itch to own an extensive collection. Famous last words, I fear!
Do you have any particularly interesting watch stories?
Hmm, the only one that springs to mind was when I was told about a guy posting images of my work online saying he made them. After I confronted this online and set the record straight, he was outcast from several watch forums and groups. I still don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted by the whole scenario, but I guess I have to take a pinch from each.
So, let’s talk about your art. How would you describe it?
On the whole, I would say my work is a heavy mix of contemporary, urban and abstract art in equal measures. I would happily take Jackson Pollock references all day every day, but let’s not be insulting and mention certain ‘artists’ that like to play Monopoly.
And how did you get started creating ‘dial art’? What were you creating beforehand?
I painted my watch dial years ago. I always wanted to be part of the world of horology but could not afford or commit to any watchmaking course. So looking at my skill set, I thought that painting the dial would be the most obvious and impactful way I could be part of it. I never thought painting the outside of the watch had any skill, nor would it last! Watches are meant to be worn and loved, so painting the dial would allow for this.
Before I painted dials, I’d been part of the creative industries for almost 15 years. I have worked as a product designer, interior designer, artist, toy designer, toy maker, special effects artist, model maker, prototyper and educator [but] I genuinely feel at home working on watches and only wish I started sooner.
How do you sell it? (E.g. commissions or stocked website?)
Ninety-nine per cent of what I sell is via commissions, most of which are via contact on Instagram through my site. As each piece is unique to the customer, I don’t stock anything. I do offer some limited edition pieces, but these again are made to order. I do have a website, but this is just an information and order page; Instagram is my main channel of communication.
Are there any other artists in the ‘watch space’ that you respect, or are nailing it?
I love what Julie Kraulis is producing — truly unique and mind-blowing!
I am also loving what other horological artists are producing, which is having an impact on the watch community as a whole. People like Mike Brend (Eleven:11) and Cay Brøndum — all really amazing artists, and each has their own style.
Can you tell me about one of your current projects that you’re working on?
I am in talks with several watchmakers/brands where we are looking at bringing out bespoke items for clients as well as limited edition mini-series. I am also working with several top creative and design consultants to see how we can customise and personalise their products for clients. All very exciting but all very hush-hush for now.
What is your favourite dial to work on?
A blank one! I am only joking — I don’t have a personal favourite, to be honest. I do admire vintage dials, particularly Rolex. You will be surprised by what you find on the back of some of these dials — watchmakers’ inscriptions, handwritten dates and numbers, even names. It is like seeing a secret message that you were not meant to find.