Watchmaking: the art of the time

From the democratic Swatch to the aristocratic Vacheron Constantin via the new NFTs from Hublot and Tag Heuer, the artistic fiber is cultivated on Swiss soil.

Swatch the most serene

At the Venice Biennale, Carlo Giordanetti is like a fish in the Grand Canal. Artistic director of Swatch, since 2011 he has formed a fruitful partnership with the event and remembers from the beginning: “Art has always been a part of our watches. Already in 1985, almost two years after the creation of the brand, suggested Nicolas Hayek, the founder , a Kiki Picasso collaboration. Since then, in almost forty years, Swatch has deployed an impressive artistic arsenal. MoMA, Rijks, Louvre, but also – and it is rarer – built from scratch by a veritable artist. ‘Residence in Shanghai. Swatch Art Peace Hotel, founded in 2011, welcomes new talent every year and gives them the necessary funds to implement their art in exchange for a collection.The artist Navin Rawanchaikul, whom we met on the spot, was one of the residents: “It is the ideal situation. Your only concern will be the creation. So you can be productive and develop a lot m are ambitious projects. ” The enormous fresco of about fifteen feet long, which the artist unveiled on the day of the inauguration of the biennial, immediately gave substance to this statement.

Alfred Hokfunst’s Swatch, 1991. Organic, Verdu (h) ra represents a chubby pepper.

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Richard Mille is hiding

The Frenchman is a world star in modern watchmaking and has built a twenty-year lightning success based on two pillars: innovation and influential ambassadors. Enjoyable, with an improbable simplicity, he has this gift to convince those he meets. See the street artist Cyril Kongo, who imagined him one of the most coveted watches of recent years, RM 68-01. “Since I come from street art in general and graffiti in particular, I usually work in large formats. But here we are infinitely small. At first glance, Richard’s request seemed unrealistic. But he told me we had time. It will take more than a year to design even the small airbrush that will allow the skeletal disc as an Eiffel structure to accommodate Congo rainbow colors. Richard Mille, himself a collector of contemporary art, sees a natural convergence here: “Our production is basically extremely limited. Cyril performs the sets one by one, we limited the series to 30 copies. The fit is perfect. Finally, in addition to being the discreet owner of the Éditions Cercle d’Art, which publishes several books on the subject each year, the Frenchman has partnered with the London-based contemporary art platform Frieze, which includes trade fairs and magazines.

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RM 68-01: The watchmaker took a year to develop the airbrush that Cyril Kongo used.

RM 68-01: The watchmaker took a year to develop the airbrush that Cyril Kongo used.

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Audemars Piguet and Rolex: patrons

Art nourishes the beauty of the world and nourishes question marks. Audemars Piguet and Rolex, aware of this absolute necessity, support disciplines that hold them high. Contemporary art, for Audemars Piguet since 2012, through 57 international exhibitions of commissioned creations, in which 17 artists participated. The work, signed by Meriem Bennani, will be unveiled in early June in New York with support from the High Line Art Gallery. For Rolex, the field could not be wider, as the program entitled “Mentors and Protected” has enabled more than 1,200 talents to express themselves in twenty years in the fields of music, architecture, ballet, cinema or literature! Thanks to the financial support of the production, the mentor accompanies his protege during his apprenticeship and his international development. In addition, technical aids and cultural heritage aids, such as the two-year renovation of the astronomical clock Passemant in the Palace of Versailles.

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Passemant's astronomical clock, one of the most complex ever made.

Passemant’s astronomical clock, one of the most complex ever made.

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Hublot Takashi Murakami and Bulgari: NFT and Mechanical Watches

Digital deeds (NFT) have become part of contemporary art. Two Hublot watches signed Takashi Murakami have been rejected in Gifs to which NFTs are attached, available in a limited series of copies (216 for one and 108 for the other). Hublot thus marks its presence in this digital universe, which fits perfectly with the creator, often regarded as the Japanese Warhol. The next step is to open the factory before the summer on the OpenSea platform a location that will allow owners to exchange their NFTs in cryptocurrency. As for Bulgari, it signs with a QR code giving access to a virtual work barrel on its thinnest watch in the world, limited to ten copies.

Breakthrough with this first portable art gallery!

Breakthrough with this first portable art gallery!

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Tag Heuer: NFT and connected watch

We could not see how the Tag Heuer brand – Tag for Techniques d’Avant-Garde -, which belongs to the same group (LVMH) as Bulgari and Hublot, should miss 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, they can be worn around the wrist. The owner of NFT (non-fungible token) works can, after connecting their watch to their cryptocurrency wallet to authenticate them, then display them on the dial. As a reminder, NFT is a term used to describe a unique digital asset whose ownership is registered on a blockchain. It’s almost a deed like any other … except it’s purely digital and inviolable. On the back of your dial you will be able to see scrolling digital works of which you are the sole and exclusive owner, and turn your watch into your little personal museum.

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

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

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Vacheron Constantin: the institution

Vacheron Constantin presents a unique collection of four watches inspired by works from the Louvre: The Great Sphinx from Tanis, The Lion by Darius, The Victory from Samothrace and Augustus’ Bust. Four miniature reinterpretations of two thousand years of history that reflect the vast know-how of the fabrication in terms of enamel, micromosaic, intarsia and engraving. “Sourcing” of the stones, size (0.5 millimeters side for each), layout, this Benedictine work, which only an exceptional hand is capable of accomplishing, sums up everything one has the right to expect from an exceptional factory. No wonder this collection is limited to five copies per. work! Inspired by the frieze of the palace of the Persian king Darius I.

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