Swatch, the spirited watch brand famous for its creativity and joie de vivre, recently revealed a new series of masterpieces adapted for the wrist. Celebrating four decades of brilliant art this year, Swatch has collaborated with a variety of artists and their representatives over the years to have their creative works serve as a base for new canvases for their watches, the latest being the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Fondation Magritte, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Le Gallerie degli Uffizi.
According to Carlo Giordanetti, CEO of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, art is one of the biggest pillars of the DNA of the brand. They started in 1984 with the first collaboration with Kiki Picasso and continued in 2011 with a collaboration with the Swatch Art Peace Hotel where 460 artists from 54 countries have been able to show their art. Another milestone for Swatch and art that year was their collaboration with La Biennale Arte in Venice.
The museum collaborations began in 2018 with the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. MoMA featured for the first time in 2021 with its Museum Journey series and last year Swatch launched the Swatch X Centre Pompidou Collection, which reimagined modern and contemporary art for the watch series.
Art Journey Collection
This year, the Art Journey Collection honours a century of Roy Lichtenstein with its Swatch x MoMA Collection. The watches showcase this trailblazing artist’s characteristic palette of primary colours, Ben-Day dots, and comic-inspired pop art style. Robin Sayetta, Director of Business Development for MoMA, explains: “Lichtenstein grew up in New York City in the 1930s and was influenced by what was happening in the culture at the time, including mass advertisements. In the 60s he began to bring this mass advertising into his work.”
The image on the artwork, Girl, is a case in point for the style of toothpaste or hairspray commercials at the time – almost a stereotype image, a twist that is very Swatch. “You do such a great job of bringing the artwork to life in this product,” she told Giordanetti during the recent launch. “MoMa loves to work with you on these collaborations because you are so true to the spirit of the artwork and the artist.”
Swatch x Magritte is a tribute to surrealist artist René Magritte’s 125th birthday. Magritte is known for his imaginative aesthetic and evocative symbols (the bowler hat and pipes, among others) as well as his incorporation of wordplay. Typically, “nothing is as it seems” in the selected artworks Le fils de l’homme and La trahison des images. “His unexpected sense of humour is very Swatch,” says Giordanetti.
Nature and femininity are revered through two of the most famous paintings in the world by Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli. The Swatch x Le Gallerie degli Uffizi collection includes two watches, Nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus, circa 1486) and Allegoria della Primavera (Allegory of Spring ). Both are the most popular exhibits at the museum.
The Birth of Venus features Zephyr, the Greek god of the west wind and Aura, the Greek goddess of gentle breezes on the dial while Venus’s exquisite face and pink roses adorn the strap. Primavera reflects the artist’s source of inspiration in nature, depicting 138 plant species, some of which appear on this Swatch with Flora, the goddess of flowers, decorating the strap.
Meanwhile, the collaboration with the Louvre Abu Dhabi heightens its celebration of the power of nature by incorporating the Prussian blue tones of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa on the front, and the Astrolabe’s flat projection of a night sky by Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Battûtî on the underside.
Regarding the challenge of incorporating these masterpieces into a watch design, Giordanetti says that behind the creation of a watch, is the need to capture and transfer a message, bring an emotional element to it, and tell a story in a very condensed way. In the case of Swatch, it’s about capturing the essence of a work of art and bringing it closer to a lot of people by making it affordable.