Chalonne, the California-based designer of luxury Apple Watch bands, is preparing to launch a new collection, once again blending Chalonne’s timeless designs and Jean Rousseau’s artisan craftsmanship.
How does such a partnership work? Meet the two women who make the magic happen year after year since 2019: Carlye Morgan, CEO of Chalonne, and Anaïs Bordier, brand manager for Jean Rousseau.
Carlye Morgan, you founded Chalonne in 2019. How did you come up with the idea of Apple Watch bands for women?
C.M. My inspiration and thought process for Chalonne emerged organically when I purchased my first Apple Watch. I loved the watch, but I wasn’t satisfied with the accompanying silicone band. At the time, I couldn’t find any high-quality, luxury Apple Watch bands out there and I didn’t want to sacrifice my personal style to sport the latest tech. I knew other fashion-forward women must have felt the same way. I had been wanting to start my own business for a while and I had so many design ideas, so I decided to fix the problem myself.
Why did you choose Jean Rousseau as your manufacturer?
C.M. After an extensive search, I found the perfect partner in Manufacture Jean Rousseau who lends Chalonne its 70 years of expertise and artisanal heritage. All of Chalonne’s bands are made in Franche-Comté, a region in France imbued with a centuries-old history of watchmaking and zest for craftmanship. Jean Rousseau has always fostered a spirit of innovation and excellence and they were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of the brand from the very start. I think they were intrigued by my unique designs and were excited to take on the challenge to achieve the quality and aesthetic that Chalonne requires.
Anaïs Bordier, what was intriguing about Chalonne’s designs?
Carlye contacted us because she was looking for a serious manufacturer and partner that would find and source materials and develop and produce the bands for her collections. She knew quite precisely what designs she wanted, but she needed our technical expertise to turn her ideas into wearable, long-lasting watch bands.
What was great about Carlye’s designs is that they were so different from what we usually do. She creates very feminine designs, such as her Confetto band, studded with 14k yellow and 14k white gold. We figured out the right way to inlay the gold bar studs into the leather. It’s all the beauty of such a partnership: she pushed us farther into what we could create, with new technical challenges.
How did you work together to create each band?
C.M. We work closely together, collaborating to bring my designs to life. A great example of this is how we collaborated to design the fittings for the 14k gold pieces that are incorporated into several of my designs. It was important to ensure that the jewelry pieces would withstand daily use, so we did extensive research to develop a proprietary technology to lock the jewels inside the lining of the bands.
A.B. Our products are a genuine blend of Chalonne’s and Jean Rousseau’s know-how. For example, there are so many kinds of calf leathers, with different properties! We suggested the right sources and finishes so that the bands would look exactly like what Carlye had in mind.
What are your commitments for ethically-sourced materials?
C.M. Jean Rousseau crafts our leather bands in small batches in order to reduce the waste of any valuable materials. As a company, we care about environmental and animal protection issues. We work with Jean Rousseau to ensure that all Chalonne bands comply with CITES and the U.S. Lacey Act, which regulate the international trade of flora and fauna species.
A.B. We have always been very careful with the sourcing of our materials. We don’t consider ourselves as subcontractors, because we only work with our own materials and we conduct all the lab tests at the Manufacture and with the help of certified labs. This allows us to make sure all of our materials comply with country legislation and CITES. This is time-consuming, but it’s the only way we can guarantee the highest quality for our clients.
Carlye, please tell us about the new collection.
C.M. We are envisioning the new collection to be a forward-looking extension of past collections, releasing additional timeless designs with unexpected, luxe materials. We are very excited for the introduction of the Ravello band which features a one-of-a-kind, black and white print designed just for Chalonne by an up-and-coming, multi-media artist. The design should prove to be very eye-catching statement piece.
The new collection will also include a new version of the Sedona band, called the Carmel, which will feature a new, modern stitching design executed on premium leather. The current Calafate band which features a genuine iolite cabochon in a 14k yellow gold floral setting, will enjoy a colorful refresh with some new gemstones, like citrine and turquoise. We are also planning on releasing some of our best-selling designs in additional color ways, like the Timbavati, Liquid and Orleans, so our customers can always have a Chalonne band that will perfectly complement their daily style.
What does Chalonne do for female empowerment?
C.M. My ideal is for Chalonne to help empower women and support them in ways that truly make a difference in their lives. From personal experiences, I knew that I wanted to start with Breast Cancer research. Chalonne donates 4% of all retail sales on Chalonne.com to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Every donation is one step closer to finding the cure to the disease that affects hundreds of thousands of women in the United States each year and we are proud to help that cause.