Watchmaking: the art of time

From democratic Swatch to aristocrat Vacheron Constantin via the new NFTs of Hublot and Tag Heuer, artistic flair has been cultivated on Swiss soil.

Quieter Swatch

At the Venice Biennale, Carlo Giordanitti is like a fish in the Grand Canal. Artistic Director of Swatch, since 2011 has made a fruitful partnership with the event and remembers from the start: “Art has always been part of our watches. As early as 1985, just two years after the brand’s creation, Nicolas Hayek, the founder, proposed a Kiki Picasso collaboration. Since then, and over the course of nearly forty years, Swatch has published an impressive arsenal of art.While the big names in art have put their signatures on the back of ports, the brand has also forged partnerships with the greatest museums, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rijks, and the Musée de la République. The Louvre, but also – and this is a rarity – was built from scratch by real artists’ residence in Shanghai. Founded in 2011, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel welcomes emerging talent each year and gives them the means to spread their art in exchange for a collection. Artist Naveen Rawanchikul, whom we met on site, was a resident: “It’s the perfect situation. Your only concern becomes creation. So you can be prolific and develop even more ambitious projects.” The huge mural of about fifteen meters in length, which the artist revealed on the day of the opening of the Biennale, immediately gave substance to this statement.

Swatch Alfred Hockfonst, 1991. Organic, Verdu(h)ra represents a plump pepper.

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Richard Mille is hiding

A global superstar in the modern watch industry, the Frenchman has achieved resounding success in twenty years based on two pillars: innovation and influential ambassadors. He is amiable, impeccable, and possesses a knack for persuading those he encounters. Watch the street artist Cyril Congo, for whom he imagined one of the most sought-after watches of recent years, RM 68-01. “Since I belong to street art in general and graffiti in particular, I usually work in large formats. However, here we are infinitesimally small. At first glance, Richard’s request seemed unattainable. But he told me we have time. It will take More than a year to design even a small airbrush that would allow a structural disk like the Eiffel hull to absorb the rainbow colors of the Congo.Richard Mille, himself a contemporary art collector, sees a natural affinity here: “Our production is very limited in substance. Cyril performed the sets one after another, and we limited the series to 30 copies. The fit is perfect. Finally, the Frenchman, in addition to being the discreet owner of Éditions Cercle d’Art, which publishes several books on the subject each year, has entered into a partnership with London’s contemporary art platform Frieze, which includes galleries and magazines.

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RM 68-01 Watch: The watchmaker took an entire year to develop the atomizer used by Cyril Kongo.

RM 68-01 Watch: The watchmaker took an entire year to develop the atomizer used by Cyril Kongo.

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Audemars Piguet and Rolex: Sponsors

Art nourishes the beauty of the world and nourishes wonder. Realizing this absolute necessity, Audemars Piguet and Rolex support specialties that are dear to them. Contemporary Art, by Audemars Piguet since 2012, through 57 international exhibitions of commissioned creations, in which 17 artists participated. The work, signed by Maryam Bennani, will be unveiled at the beginning of June in New York with the support of the High Line Art Gallery. Pour Rolex, le champ est on ne peut plus large, puisque son program intitulé « Mentors et Protégés » a permis à plus de 1 200 talents de s’exprimer depuis vingt ans dans la musique, l’architecture, le ballet, le cinéma ou literature! Thanks to the financial support of the industrialization, the mentor accompanies his stepson in his professional training and international development. Added to this are technical and heritage aids, such as the two-year renovation of the Passemant Astronomical Clock in the Palace of Versailles.

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The Passemant Astronomical Watch, one of the most intricate watches ever made.

The Passemant Astronomical Watch, one of the most intricate watches ever made.

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Hublot Takashi Murakami and Bulgari: NFT and mechanical watches

Digital property titles (NFTs) have become a part of contemporary art. The two Hublot watches signed by Takashi Murakami in the Gif to which the NFT is attached, are available in a limited series of copies (216 for one copy and 108 for the other). Hublot thus refers to its presence in this digital world that fits perfectly with the creator, who is often seen as the Japanese Warhol. Next step, the factory will open before the summer on the OpenSea platform, a site that will allow owners to exchange NFTs for cryptocurrency. As for Bvlgari, expect the use of a QR code that gives access to a virtual work barrel of the world’s thinnest watch, limited to ten copies.

Stay up-to-date with this premier mobile art gallery!

Stay up-to-date with this premier mobile art gallery!

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Tag Heuer: NFT and a connected watch

We couldn’t see how the Tag Heuer brand – Tag for Techniques d’Avant-Garde -, which belongs to the same group (LVMH) as Bulgari and Hublot, would lose this artistic tidal wave. The fourth generation of the Connected watch offers a new way to bring these works of art into the real world: for the first time, it can be worn on the wrist. The owner of an NFT (non-fungible token) works, having connected his watch to a cryptocurrency wallet to authenticate it, and then display it on the dial. As a reminder, NFT is a term used to describe a unique digital asset, whose ownership is registered on the blockchain. A title deed is almost like any other title deed… except that it is purely digital and inviolable. On the back of your dial, you will be able to view digital works of which you are the sole and exclusive owner and make your watch your own little personal museum.

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Inspired by the frieze of the palace of Persian King Darius I.

Inspired by the frieze of the palace of Persian King Darius I.

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Vacheron Constantin: The Foundation

Vacheron Constantin presents an exceptional collection of four watches inspired by works from the Louvre: the Sphinx of Tanis, the Lion of Darius, the Victory of Samothrace, and the Statue of Augustus. Four mini-interpretations of reinterpretations of two thousand years of history reflect the immense knowledge of the plant in terms of enamel, delicate mosaics, inlays, and engravings. The “sourcing” of the stones, the size (0.5 millimeters per side), the design, this Benedictine work that only an exceptional hand can accomplish sums up all that one has right to expect from an exceptional manufacturer. No wonder this collection is limited to five copies of each work! Inspired by the frieze of the palace of Persian King Darius I.

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