The relationship between art and timekeeping has a long and fascinating history. Throughout the ages, watchmakers and artists have collaborated to create exquisite timepieces that transcend mere functionality and become works of art. However, some artists have taken this collaboration a step further by directly incorporating their creativity onto watch canvases. The convergence of fine art and watchmaking has led to the emergence of unique timepieces that serve not only as accurate timekeepers but also as miniature masterpieces.
Two of the leading artists of the 20th century were avid watch collectors.
Andy Warhol was not only a pop art icon, but also owned hundreds of timepieces, ranging from Rolex to Cartier, and often wore them as accessories rather than functional devices. He once said, "I don't wear a watch to tell the time. I wear a watch to see who's looking at my watch." His collection of watches reflects his fascination with consumer culture, mass production, and celebrity status. Some of his most notable watches include a Piaget Polo that he customised with a diamond bezel, a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar that he never wound, and a Rolex Daytona.
Picasso's watch collection is a remarkable and often overlooked aspect of the iconic artist's life. While he is best known for his revolutionary contributions to the world of art, his passion for timepieces adds another layer of complexity to his character. Throughout his prolific career, Picasso amassed a diverse and impressive collection of wristwatches, pocket watches, and even unique timekeeping artefacts. His collection showcased timepieces from various renowned watchmakers, such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Cartier. Each watch in his collection seemed to represent a chapter in his life, with different pieces being associated with significant milestones, artistic breakthroughs, or personal experiences.
We present here some of the most notable collaborations of celebrated artists and watchmakers.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures
A series of three limited-edition timepieces that feature miniature paintings on the reverse side of the case. The paintings are inspired by three masterpieces of modern art that were hidden or lost for many years: View of Lake Léman by Gustave Courbet, Sunset at Montmajour by Vincent Van Gogh, and Portrait of Ria Munk III by Gustav Klimt. Jaeger LeCoultre's artisans used grand feu enamel, miniature painting and guilloche techniques to create these stunning works of art.
Vacheron Constantin Eye Of Time
This watch is renowned for its artistic and unconventional design. Instead of the traditional watch hands, it features a small opening on the watch face with a rotating eye-shaped disc. The pupil of the eye points to the hour, while the white outer part of the eye indicates the minutes. The watch's design reflects Dalí's fascination with time and his characteristic surreal and symbolic style.
Keith Haring Mickey Mouse Watch
Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker known for its fun and affordable timepieces, partnered with the Keith Haring Foundation to produce a series of watches featuring Haring's distinctive artwork. These watches often showcased Haring's famous dancing figures and radiant babies, including a playful Mickey Mouse series.
Louis Vuitton Yayoi Kusama Infinity Dots Watch
Louis Vuitton produced a watch inspired by the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known for her use of polka dots and mirrors in her installations and paintings. The watch features a black dial with colourful dots that change every second, creating an illusion of infinite patterns. The watch also has a mirror-like case and a leather strap with more dots.
Hermès Cape Cod Crépuscule Watch
A luxury timepiece that features a unique dial made of silicon with a bluish tint and a yellow gold coating that depicts the "Crépuscule" (twilight) motif designed by the artist Thanh Phong Lê. Created using nanotechnology and photolithography, providing an infinite palette of subtle and unique shades. The watch has a stainless steel case and a navy blue calfskin strap and is powered by a quartz movement.
Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow Watch
A limited-edition timepiece that combines the artistry of Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami with the craftsmanship of Swiss watchmaker Hublot. The watch features a sapphire crystal case that reveals the inner workings of the movement, as well as a smiling flower motif that is a signature of Murakami's work. The flower has 12 petals that are set with 487 gemstones in a rainbow gradient, and they spin freely around the face of the watch.