Swatch & Art, a timeless love story
We believe that art makes the world a better place. From our collaborations with emerging or celebrated artists, designers and architects, to founding the Swatch Art Peace Hotel and from supporting renown art institutions, to partnering with famous museums to bring their reinterpreted masterpieces to your wrists, it is undeniable: our love for art runs deep.
1985: Kiki Picasso
Our very first Swatch Art Special is born from our collaboration with highly acclaimed artist Kiki Picasso. The 140-piece limited edition met with great success, paving the way for the "world's smallest canvas" and many impressive artistic collaborations.
1986: Keith Haring
Keith Haring’s iconic, irresistible cartoon-like figures and unexpected juxtapositions of colour, feature on his famous Swatch Art Specials. Pulsing with the energy of 1980s New York, MODEL AVEC PERSONNAGES, SERPENT, MILLES PATTES and BLANC SUR NOIR, instantly capture the hearts of high and low art aficionados alike.
1985: Swatch instigates street painting
During a “Street Painting Performance,” we invite European urban artists to put their vision of time on canvas around the Stadttheater in Basel, away from galleries.
Replicated in Paris, London and other cities worldwide, it sets us apart as true pioneers of urban art.
2011: Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Located in the heart of Shanghai, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel brings together diverse artists from around the world. Residents from a wide range of disciplines stay for periods of 3–6 months, united under one common goal: to create and collaborate.
THE ART OF COLLABORATION
1991: Alfred Hofkunst
Alfred Hofkunst captures the art world’s attention with trompe-l’oeil depictions of everyday objects. Sculptural, shapely and unexpected, the artist’s creations for Swatch are small-scale works of pop art. His three unique Art Specials are sold in vegetable markets in Switzerland, Austria and Italy and instantly become a media sensation.
1989: Mimmo Paladino
Italian conceptual artist Mimmo Paladino creates the minimalistic OIGOL ORO which we produce as a limited edition of 140 pieces. We offer the first watch from this edition as the first prize in the "Design your Swatch" contest, which received over 1000 entries, and gift another 99 to various personalities around the world.
1990: Alessandro Mendini
In 1996, Swatch takes on the role of the Official Timekeeper for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Mendini is chosen to lead the Swatch O'Clock project, an ambitious project aimed to merge art and sports. He selects 12 artists one from each Olympic city, who create the 12 iconic Swatch Art Clock Towers.
In the following years, the renown Italian architect and designer creates several Art Special watches. In 2016, he adds SPOT THE DOT, a colour-happy, dotty design.
1992: Sam Francis
Known for his expressive, colourful artwork, American artist Sam Francis creates an action-packed painting in watch form. As if it were being painted directly on the wrist, this is a true Swatch Art Special – special art you can wear.
1994: Mimmo Rotella
Rotella creates his décollage works from torn posters, pictures and advertising prints. His Art Specials include MARILYN inspired by the famous pop culture icon and BENGALA, featuring a fierce tiger on the dial.
1996: Nam June Paik
American Nam June Paik is considered the founder of video art. His Swatch Art Special ZAPPING bristles with energy and buzzes with electricity. It is a clever, information-age timepiece infused with the Zeitgeist of the '90s.
1996: Annie Leibovitz
In honour of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, photographer Annie Leibovitz creates an Art Special that bears her own name. The ANNIE LEIBOVITZ features 10 photographs of athletes in training, and is a startling and wonderful tribute to sports.
1996: Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono’s art for Swatch is at once mutely, understatedly elegant and delightfully provocative. Despite its aloof, grayscale beauty, on closer inspection FILM NO. 4 reveals a film-reel series of a derriere.
1997: Arnaldo Pomodoro
Esteemed Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro is known for his geometric bronze works. ROTOR, the first Art Special in stainless steel, packs the punch of the artist’s powerful hand into a small and elegant work.
1997: Huntley & Muir
Su Huntley and Donna Muir’s creative partnership has produced impressive images across a range of artistic disciplines.
Their Swatch Art Specials are no different: WINDMEAL is a tribute to housewives, while LIPSTICK deals with the puzzle called conversation.
1999: Renzo Piano
The architect behind Centre Pompidou’s inside-out design, Renzo Piano brought the same aesthetic to his Art Special, JELLY PIANO. The watch is built inside out and is a celebration of the pure allure of watchwork machinery, and is rendered in cool, collected transparencies.
2013 & 2016: Mika
Lebanese-British singer, composer and producer Mika, creates the Swatch Art Specials KUKULAKUKU and KUKULAKUKI just in time for the holiday season in 2013. In 2016, he creates the beautifully unique MUMU-CUCURRUCUCU which shines with a luxuriously engraved, gold-coloured dial and bright geometric designs.
2013: José Carlos Casado
Multimedia artist José Carlos Casado brought common themes from his work to his Swatch Art Special, OFF: a combination of new technologies with traditional arts, and a confrontation of the real with the unreal and unconscious. He also makes creative use of the Swatch AR’t smartphone app and enhances OFF with an "augmented reality" experience.
In 2019, we push the boundaries of creativity and positive provocation by collaborating with Pigcasso, a talented pig, and release the exclusive and limited watch, FLYING PIG BY MS. PIGCASSO.
AT THE CENTRE OF ICONIC ART EVENTS
Swatch, a main partner of Biennale
We have been the main partner of Biennale Arte in Venice, the world’s most iconic contemporary art exhibition that stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new art trends, six consecutive times. Our support manifests through exhibits we host at the event, as well as a dedicated Swatch Art Specials.
Swatch x Locarno Film Festival
For 75 years, the Locarno Film Festival has illuminated this Swiss town’s summers with cinema, bringing together the most daring productions and talents. Starting in 2023, after supporting the festival for many years, we are excited to become one of its main partners.
ICONIC MASTERPIECES REIMAGINED
Fondation Maeght Set
Belgian artists Pol Bury and Pierre Alechinsky join forces with Italian painter Valerio Adami to create the Foundation Maeght Set of three abstract and now highly prized watches.
Swatch x Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
In the mid ’90s, MOMA acquires a Swatch watch and adds it to the museum’s prestigious design collection which now boasts 3 watches: the GB100 (1983), Jelly Fish (1985) and Jelly Skin (1998). Our collaboration with this influential institution grows over the years, and leads to special exhibitions such as the Workspheres (2001) and Items:Is Fashion Modern? (2017). In our most recent venture, we bring many masterpieces to people’s wrists, including works by Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Piet Mondrian and Tadanori Yokoo, among others.
Swatch x Louvre, Paris
Our collaboration with this historic Parisian landmark started in 2001 with the opening of a store in the Carrousel du Louvre. A few years later, we celebrate Leoh Ming Pei, the architect behind the museum’s unique design, with a Swatch X You canvas, and share a collection that playfully reinterprets Louvre masterpieces.
Swatch x Centre Pompidou, Paris
This Parisian institution is where our love affair with art officially began. Starting with the launch of our first Kiki Picasso Art Special in 1985 and following many successful ventures over the years. Our relationship continues today with the Swatch x Centre Pompidou Collection. The Collection features some of the Centre’s most iconic artworks by reknown artists such as Frida Kahlo, Piet Mondrian and Amedeo Modigliani.
Swatch x Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
In 2018 we collaborate with Rijksmuseum, an icon of the arts in the Netherlands. For this collaboration, we reinterprete three watches based on masterpieces from historical art, complete with contemporary touches.
Swatch x Thyssen Museum, Madrid
In 2018, we also collaborate with the Thyssen Museum to create unexpected yet respectfully contemporary interpretations of three of the museum’s masterpieces by Balthasar van der Ast, Franz Marc and Piet Mondrian.
Swatch x National Museum of 21st Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, we team up with the MAXXI. During the 12-month collaboration several creative projects emerged: artist talks, exhibitions and even a Swatch X You design dedicated to the 21st century art museum.