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Swatch in 1991

1991

Highlights

The Swatch “Spirit of Biel∕Bienne II” wins the “Solar & Electric 500” race in Phoenix, Arizona (USA) in April.
 
In a Swatch “Race Against Time”, free climber Stefan Glowacz takes just seven hours to scale the peaks of seven high-rise buildings in Frankfurt (Germany), including one which, at 169 meters, is the highest office block in Germany at that time.
 
In July, Swatch and Volkswagen form the SMHVolkswagen company to develop an “environmentfriendly” city car.
 
Swatchetables watches by Alfred Hofkunst are sold at vegetable markets around the world three models Gu(h)rke, Bonju(h)r and Verdu(h)ra feature special packaging.
 
August 1st, Swiss national day. Swatch celebrates Switzerland’s 700th anniversary with an Art Special, The 5th National Language, dedicated to each of the four language regions in Switzerland.
 
In September the “Swatch & Swatch” exhibition assembles all 729 Swatch models and 290 variations in a decorative Venetian palace : Palazzo Vendramin Calergi.
 
Swatch news headlines are dominated by the launch of the Swatch Automatic, the first self-winding Swatch – and of the new Swatch eyes collection of interchangeable, clip-on sunglasses.
 
Contemporary art auction sale held at the Rudolf Mangisch Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. Top price for a Mimmo Paladino watch : CHF 56,000.
 
First contact made with Alessandro Mendini. In later years Mendini designed numerous watches for Swatch.
 
Through the streets of Hong Kong rolls a new Swatch Tram, and the Portuguese capital Lisbon decided to brighten up its public transport system with three gaily-decorated trolley buses – “à la Swatch”.

1991

Art

Master draughtsman and artist Alfred Hofkunst first caught the eye of the art world in the mid-1960s with his trompe-l’oeil depictions of everyday objects. One of Hofkunst’s most well known works is his reconstruction of his artist studio through drawings installed in another space, which he exhibited in 1977. In addition to these works, Hofkunst created atmospheric landscapes and meticulous, detailed figurative work. His work is featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and in other major collections.

Sculptural, shapely and unexpected, the artist’s three creations for Swatch are small-scale works of Pop Art. Hofkunst set the classic watch format aside and instead fashioned organic, eye-tricking, sculptural watches that look as if they are made out of food. Gu(h)rke (PWZ100) is a cool green, right down to the dial, inked to look like a moist, seeded slice of cucumber. Bonju(h)r (PWZ101) is a strip of bacon, cleverly curly and striped, fairly crisping at the wrist. Verdu(h)ra (PWZ102) is an abundant, glistening red, the dial cushioned inside a plump-looking bell pepper. Each piece’s title is a bit of multi-lingual wordplay, and the work is pure visual play.

Swiss graphic artist and designer Niklaus Troxler’s Flaek (GZ117) dances along the edge of the abstract and the figurative. With its print-like black and white forms, this eye-popping piece teases the viewer back and forth from images of dairy cows to formless floating shapes. Like Rorschach blots or camouflage, the images assemble and dissemble at once. Though the cow markings and meadow-green case slyly reference Switzerland, the overall effect is more modern art –colour patches detached from form and rearranged. The alert, poppy design has the best of both worlds, capturing both the musings of abstraction and the specific beauty of reference to the natural world.

As fluid and evanescent as time itself, silvie and Chérif Defraoui’s Test (GZ118) is a watery, flowing creation, printed with mysterious, inky gestalts that emerge from fields of cerulean and midnight blue. Like images assembling themselves from Rorschach blots, these beautiful forms are undetermined, undefined, and as open for interpretation as animal shapes discovered in the clouds. Depths and shallows, whole worlds and oceans of colour and time are contained in a work whose pen-and-ink elegance remains a mystery. A luminous, intellectual timepiece from the avant-garde of contemporary art.

360° Rosso Sur Blackout (GZ119) by Swiss abstract painter Felice Varini is simple and geometric, prompting the viewer to look closely for the meaning and mechanism concealed in its elegance. A precise, thin red line runs the length of the piece, otherwise rendered in gun-metal, dimly luminescent black and grey. Strapped to the wrist, the cardinal dividing line meets up with itself and forms a circle (360 degrees), a continuous ellipse of red. Placed flat on a surface, the red of the design yields a different composition, a play of still lines and the two red dots that mark the time. Intelligent and curiously pure, this watch has the beauty of a mathematical formula.

Wheel Animal (GZ120) designed by Not Vital, emanates from the quiet mind of this mysterious artist, whose serene minimalist design for Swatch is full of space. The piece centres on a corroded-looking, rust-eaten wheel with four spokes whose purpose seems hard to pin down. As the eye comes to rest on the quiet, deep image, grand ideas form in the mind – the history of timekeeping, or navigation by the light and position of stars. There is also something alive and creature-like about the wheel, suggested by the name and its organic quality. Its earthy colours and fragile form remind us that even the most complex machines come from the materials of the natural world.

Massimo Giacon, an Italian comic-strip artist, illustrator, musician, artist, and graphic designer, is considered a leading figure in the revival of Italian comics. As a designer, he has collaborated with many noted design studios and completed projects for, among others, Memphis and Artemide. His artistic work has achieved considerable distribution throughout the international gallery scene, finding its way to exhibitions in Italy, Switzerland, Japan and the United States. He also works in graphic design for television and the Internet.

1991

Club

Lots of Dots (GZ121)
Alessandro Mendini, known for the simplicity, elegance, and balance of his design work, Mendini’s creation for the Swatch Club watch is a leisurely tribute to pointillist painters – creators of landscapes made of colour and play.

1991

Sport

Swatch steps into watersports and sponsors the 3-day Swatch Super Fundoor, an indoor windsurfing competition in Paris (France). The event is linked with the pre-launch of the Swatch Scuba 200, a 200m water-resistant watch.

1991

Product Line

SWATCH  AUTOMATIC
No batteries needed. The wearer-in-motion keeps the mechanical movement running.

Swatch the Beep (1991)
The world’s smallest pager with an analogue display, presented in the form of a wristwatch.

swatch-the-beep-1991

SWATCH EYES (1991)

Swatch eyeglasses debut in Germany, Austria and
Switzerland, manufactured under licence from Swatch
by Ferdinand Menrad of Schwæbisch Gmuend.

swatch-eyes-1991