Swatch's Latest Collab Is With London's Tate Gallery

swatch art journey 2024 tate gallery
Swatch's Latest Collab Is With the Tate GalleryCourtesy of Swatch

Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world.

Swatch has had a relationship with artists longer than pretty much any watch brand. Sure, there were watches made for—and worn by—artists before them, but Swatch has since the 1980s offered something unique in watchmaking: the creative blank canvas offered by its plastic cases and straps, an obvious vehicle for artistic expression.

One of the most collectible amongst these is almost (but not quite) the brand’s oldest: its collaboration with New York’s own Keith Haring, which began in 1986 with a quartet of the artist’s instantly recognizable graffiti characters. In true accessible form, these were made in an edition of 9,999, yet prices at auction for an original set in good condition regularly top $3,000.

In recent years, Swatch has focused on working with leading museums and galleries around the world as well as individual artists. Since 2018, its Art Journey program has seen collaborations with cultural institutions including The Louvre Abu Dhabi, The Uffizi in Florence, and MoMa in New York. The advantage of this is the ability to work with the works of several famous artists in a single edition as well as attract Swatch fans into the spaces.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Bourgeois's 'Spirals'</p><p></p><p>$110.00</p>

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Bourgeois's 'Spirals'


Last month in London, the group unveiled a collection in collaboration with the Tate—meaning both the Tate Modern and its 150-year-old forebear the Tate Gallery. Together, both provided Swatch with rich inspirations as diverse (and as famous) as JMW Turner, Fernand Leger, Marc Chagall, Juan Miro, and Henri Matisse. Interestingly, however, they also tapped a little-known series of prints by sculptor Louise Bourgeois and a relatively unknown British artist, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, for two of the designs.

Each watch represented a technical challenge to make the selected artwork readable on the case and dial without altering or distorting the original artwork. In the case of Matisse’s snail collage, the whole piece was reproduced in the dial without losing its power (the original is about 10-foot square). Five of the watches come in a larger 41mm size and two—Matisse and JMW Turner—come in 34mm. All are available in Swatch stores and at the brand's website now.

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