Watch and Learn: Eric Cantona

He's French. He played football for Man U. He has things to say.

BY daniel goh | Mar 3, 2017 | News


When I was 20 years old, I was on a French TV show with the French artist and sculptor, César Baldaccini, and I noticed that he was wearing a watch with many lines running across it. I will never forget that watch because I remember that my interpretation of it was that it was a cage and we were all prisoners of time.


That was the starting point for the Hautlence Vortex Primary and, from there, I started to think about how we could get a sense of freedom and escape while still being in a cage.


My second source of inspiration was Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian, due to his masterful use of colour and black lines.


For the watch, I put the primary colours within a black cage. Why I used primary colours was because, from these three colours, you can make billions of colours, through which you can create your own world with your imagination, giving you a sense of freedom, even if you are inside a cage.


There was a story about a blind pianist who couldn’t read musical notes, but instead, saw each note in his head as colours, and so, when he played, he imagined a rainbow. That is just beautiful.


I love colours. My father is a painter and, as a kid, I used to spend a lot of time watching him paint. He took my brothers and me to galleries and taught us to look at the beauty in nature, the beauty of the people in the street, the beauty on their faces. It was thanks to my father that I started to love art.


It was my father who taught me to feel the emotions of art and think of the idea behind a piece of art.


In some ways, art and sports are very similar. It’s an expression of us. A great chef can be an artist.


School is very important, and those who finish school should come out with the feeling that they have really learned so many things. And those things that they learned should give them the opportunity to create something.


It’s just like when you learn the story of art; you use the movements and all the history of art to create your own.


I love the Labyrinth watch of Hautlence because it is a watch that does not tell time. It does not give you the time, but rather allows you to take time to disconnect, and I think that is very important. For me, I disconnect through art.


These days, you get a lot of people who look like rebels, but are not. For me, being a rebel is a strong and prestigious title. To be a rebel means you want to be different. It is a mindset.


I would have loved to do all the things that I am doing now when I was 20 and playing football, but that’s impossible. I am lucky that, after my career as a footballer, which I liked very much, I can still enjoy life and do things like being an actor and an artist.


I am lucky because I have always been paid to do what I am passionate about, so I don’t think of it as work. Even as a footballer, I could have paid for that experience, to have so many fans, and to win matches and enjoy the glory that comes with it. It is the same with cinema, and it is the same with Hautlence. I am a very lucky man.


Being professional—not just on the pitch but also with everything that I do—is part of my personality. You can have great potential but without professionalism, it is useless. You see some great, young players who never reached the highest level because you need to work hard in order to do so. Professionalism is not a need; it’s an obsession to keep improving everything.


I have given everything that I have, and I have worked hard to enjoy the moment, whether I am on stage or on the pitch. I really love the feeling that the more you work, the easier it will be. 


Originally published in Big Watch Book 2016.