His more recent creation demanding of safe keeping, the ‘Diablo’ features a 60.66 carat diamond and is a one-off worth untold millions of dollars. In a less limited edition of three, his 14.15-carat diamond-set Calibre R822 ‘Predator’ sells for around R7,5m. Fear not, if you’re in the market for a unique toy with a more ‘affordable’ tag. His mechanical buckles start at around R320000 for something less ostentatious in steel, gold and titanium.
His first mechanical belt buckle, the “Calibre R8 MK I was an evolution of a very simple three-component expandable mechanism created for Bally in 1996 as part of a duty free range”.
At the same time he was designing watches for Carl F Bucherer and got to know the Swiss watch industry and the world of fascinating, highly precise mechanics. “When you make a watch you have to think for the next five years. I was doing a lot of metal hardware for various brands and got the idea to use the watch industry. I also hated belts and nobody was innovating them.”
When I launched my first collection in 2004, one of my first clients was a prominent attorney in Milan who is also a leading historian of the belt buckle and an avid collector. He had already printed three volumes on the belt buckle, from its inception around 300 BC up to the 1950.”
The belt was originally designed to carry your sword or working tools. When you were sitting, you took it off. “Now in the fashion world actually you sit down and you suffocate. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the belt evolved into an ornamental device to hold up your pants.”
An image of Iten’s belt was chosen for the cover of the fourth volume, focusing on the modern belt buckle. The author’s reason for choosing it was because “Iten’s belt designs have put the functional utility back into the belt buckle for the modern man”.
Longevity is a key component in Iten’s universe. “I like things that are above fashion, above trends. I love the watch industry and brands like Vacheron Constantin, Rolex. When you buy a product, a watch, you buy a little time recorder. It becomes a little part of you, part of your personality. It’s like a familiar face, a friend.”