Cardin’s fixation on space is evident in his work – his design for the Beatles draws inspiration from spacesuits, and Cardin is supposedly the only civilian to ever put on a NASA spacesuit. As quoted in Jean Pascal Hesse’s Pierre Cardin: Legends, Cardin is recorded as saying: “The infinity of space is more inspiring than anything else.” Famously, he had a line of suits called the “Cosmocorps”, while the costumes of Star Trek, which first aired in 1966, bear a striking resemblance to Cardin’s androgynous, unearthly designs.
Anne of Francoise Paris, who actively trades in these pieces and has studied their origins, brings up an interesting point with regards to the cultural contexts of these watches. “For the case designs of the Espace collection there are hints of inspiration taken from contemporary space shuttles, but also from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was released in 1968, just three years before the launch of Cardin’s collection,” she says.
Mitch Greenblatt, an avid collector and dealer of retro-styled watches, comments that even for the period, the Espace watches were extremely unconventional. “Summed up, these watches were quite avantgarde, and totally unexpected in the early 1970s when they were launched,” he says. “Not only were the designs ahead of their time but this was at the zenith of Cardin's Space Age influence, shortly before he started licensing his name to just about anything. Originally, Cardin was a revolutionary fashion designer with ultra-futuristic proclivities.”