In Conversation with Cindy Crawford on Omega

Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford at Omega's "Her Time" event in Paris

“I’ve been with Omega longer than I’ve been married.”

The love story started 22 years ago, when Cindy Crawford, supermodel who at the time graced the cover of every magazine, was asked to take on a one shot photoshoot with Omega, the giant Swiss watchmaker. Cindy’s timeless and iconic status combined with Omega’s legacy have been the founding pillars of a successful and happy “marriage”.

It was during Paris Fashion Week, Omega launched their Her time exhibition. A week I am unlikely to forget as I had the opportunity to meet my childhood idol, Cindy! Important benchmark for a child who once had trouble accepting their own upper lip beauty spot… We spoke about her affinity with time and motherhood. With Kaia, 16 and Presley,18 successfully strutting the catwalks we highly anticipate them to follow in their mum’s footsteps and now becoming Omega ambassadors, turning what is a successful alliance into a family affair.

Cindy Crawford

What makes Omega so special to you?

I joke that I’ve been with Omega longer than I’ve been married. When I first signed, I’d never really had a good watch and I didn’t know that much. But I’ve really been educated. And also, Omega has such an incredible history, and they’re also a quality brand that I’ve literally travelled the world with. I’ve done charity work with Orbis and Omega. So, for me, it’s really like a family at this point. It’s nice because they’ve let me grow up. They don’t expect me to be the 25 year old model I was when I first started working with them. They embrace that I am a woman who has a family and who has other areas of interest, not just what I was interested in as a fashion model.

What impact has Omega had on your career?

As a model, there’s no job security. You get a booking but you don’t know when the next call will come. The thing that every model wants is a contract and normally it’s a cosmetic contract or a fragrance contract. My first contract was with Revlon and it was great because it was for three years and you get this much money… so you can make better decisions as a model and you don’t have to take every job. You think, “I can relax a little bit. I can pay my rent. I can make plans.” I like working with companies for a long time because you invest in them and they invest in you. And if you share brand qualities it can be a great partnership. My second contract was with Pepsi and then Omega. When we first met it was just a modelling job. It wasn’t like a big contract, but it evolved into that. We started out on a blind date and we’ve been married 22 years and they’re really like family. It’s especially like family now that my kids are joining the Omega family.

Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford seen here in a mid-90s photography campaign for Omega (Image: Beatrice Lang)

Your children are successful models, how proud are you of them?

I’m proud of them, not because they’re successful models, but because they’re nice people, and they have good manners, and they work hard. They’re just cool people. It’s nice when you see your kids become people that you would want to hang out with. Certainly, it’s fun as a mother for them to be entering a world that is my world, because it’s fun to just share that with them. And also, they listen to me. At least about that. I think sometimes for teenagers, it’s a time when they’re pulling away from their parents. But because they’re entering the same world, it’s a place for us to connect.

You will now be a family of Omega ambassadors. How do you feel about that?

I just think it makes sense. Kaia came with me to do this Orbis documentary about the Flying Eye Hospital, which was amazing, and I was going to Peru and I brought Kaia with me. It was good for her to go to a developing country where people don’t have access to eye care. It made a big impression on her, but it was also a great trip and we did this documentary together, and I said to Omega, you guys should sign my kids. I don’t think they realised what was going to happen, but I thought I knew. In the last year, as Kaia and Presley have started making their own careers, we started talking about it in a real way. And for me, it just made sense. There’s so much of Omega that’s heritage and legacy and obviously my kids are a part of my legacy. So I think we all just said it makes sense.

Orbis Flying Eye Hospital
Cindy Crawford with daughter Kaia visit the Flying Eye Hospital
Cindy Crawford
(From the left) Cindy with Omega President and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, husband Rande Gerber and kids, Kaia and Presley Gerber at the "Her Time" event in Paris

Have you ever been hesitant of your children as models going into this kind of hard work?

I’m aware of the pitfalls of the business, so I feel like I can help them navigate. I know my husband, he really just doesn’t want Kaia to grow up too fast. But I say, she is 16. He wants her to still be 7 and just stay there. I think it’s hard for dads to let their little girls grow up.

For me, what I got from modelling — I was from a very small town — it was just the opportunity to travel the world and to meet people from every different country, to be exposed to different cultures and different languages, and then to also work with these incredibly talented and inspirational people, like designers and photographers. It’s a great form of education. And you learn about marketing and about business. What I teach my kids about modelling is to pay attention. You can learn a lot. Don’t just go and sit on your phones while you’re getting your hair and makeup done. Talk to people and listen.

Kaia Gerber and Presley Gerber
Brother and sister photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Omega (from the left): Kaia Gerber and Presley Gerber

Do you think the fashion system was better in the 90s compared to today and how has social media changed it?

I think social media has definitely changed it. That’s the only difference. Yesterday, I was doing a shoot with a magazine here and, in some ways, nothing has changed. There’s a photographer, you get your hair and makeup done, someone is handing you beautiful clothes. For my kids, they have that experience. Plus, this other digital platform, which I think is a lot of pressure. But it’s there. It’s not going anywhere. We all have to be a part of it. I think for the younger kids, it’s a little easier because they didn’t know what it was like before. So for them, it’s more second nature. I say it’s like a full-time job. It’s like a hungry pet that you just have to keep feeding all the time. I think there’s less downtime because of it. Also, I feel like, for my daughter, it’s a much faster build. I could do a show or a magazine cover, and maybe someone liked me, but they had to wait one month. Now, it’s like, everywhere. It’s like that Versace show I did, it literally took over Instagram. It was crazy for two days. But they were smart. It was a smart thing to do. It’s like the traditional kind of advertising is being taken over by this new media, and we’re all trying to figure it out and how to use it effectively.

Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen with Donatella Versace
(From the left) Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen walk the runway at the Versace show at Milan Fashion week 2017 with fashion legend Donatella Versace

How has your taste in watches changed? What would have attracted you 22 years ago compared to today?

That’s interesting. I remember my very first watch was a Swatch watch. It was the jelly one. Remember, the one that was clear? I think at that time as a young woman, I was very much following trends. I wore what everyone else was wearing and did not so much have trust in my own taste. Since working with Omega for so long, I’ve learned to appreciate the quality of a watch and also what’s inside a watch. I mean, I’ve always worn jeans and t-shirts and a black dress. I think when you’re around clothes all the time, when I’m not modelling, I just want something more simple. I probably have 4 or 5 watches that I wear a lot. One is with a stainless steel and rose gold bracelet that is easier to wear every day. But then I have a Ladymatic that has diamonds, and its gold with a black face, and that’s more for the evening. So I guess it depends on my mood and what I’m doing. It’s about having different ones like you have different shoes. Some days you wear sneakers and some days you wear stilettos.

What does a watch mean to you today and what is your relationship to time?

I’ll start with the second part, which is that I’m a very punctual person and a very organised person, which is why I think Omega loves me. I’m a busy person but the way that I can do everything is by keeping my schedule. My relationship to a watch, in general, when I first started wearing a watch, it was out of necessity. We didn’t have phones. Certainly now, no one has to wear a watch. It’s purely an accessory. But I feel like it’s a statement accessory. There are certain pieces that make more of a statement. What we wear is more interchangeable but a watch is something that says something about you. So I like to have a couple of different watches because sometimes I’m in a different mood, so what do I want to say?

Cindy Crawford and family
A family portrait, photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Omega (from the left): Kaia Gerber, Rande Gerber, Cindy Crawford and Presley Gerber

What scares you most about aging?

The build-up to 50 was like, 48, then 49… ahhh! But the next day, after 50, I was fine and I felt like, “I’m still me.” But obviously I’m in a job where, as a model, so much attention is put on how you look. It’s hard for men too, but even more so for women. It’s hard. Nothing is where it used to be or you start noticing, in the mirror, the changes. I think that’s hard. But that’s why I think it’s even more important that you are developing other areas of your life. So that, if you’re in a good relationship, or for me, it’s about family and children and doing work that I love.

How often do you look at your watch?

For time? Never. Like I said, sometimes my watch isn’t even set to the right time. To me, it’s a total accessory now, which makes it even more important for the style that you choose. Because no one is wearing a watch because they need to know the time. Maybe if you’re a doctor and you’re taking someone’s heartbeat. But for me, it’s a style piece.

If you could give one watch to your daughter some day, what would it be?

I helped consult on the design of the Constellation in the 90s when they relaunched the collection. And Mr. Hayek Senior made me a special version in platinum. So it’s a one of a kind and that’s the one I would give to Kaia.

Editor’s Note: Read the interview in French on Macha’s site — www.watch-her.com