The wristwatch as a canvas: three artistic creations as a background for classic time-telling.
And I am not talking about art objects that have the display of time as a secondary “function”. I am strictly referring to “classic” watches that were used as canvases to express images, ideas and concepts. That is why I chose as examples three pieces that are very different in style and price, the most affordable being the Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide Benzilla, the most spectacular – the Corum Bubble X Aiiroh, and the most shining (and expensive of all three) – the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition.
Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide Benzilla
Maurice Lacroix stands out as a brand oriented towards a younger audience. Using hashtags such as #PulseOfTheCity, #UrbanActiveSpirit and #MasterYourTime and partnering with Red Bull Dance Your Style, King of the Court, FIBA 3×3 World Tour and Mahindra Racing, the brand is very much in tune with the values of the new generations without forgetting its serious watchmaking heritage.
The featured timepiece is based on the AIKON #tide – a super cute and affordable watch that makes the oceans a bit cleaner with each piece. Something to have…
Many of us disregard used plastic. But plastic can be an excellent raw material for super cool objects. Unfortunately, much of the plastic we throw away ends up in the oceans. We can thank entities like #tide for organizing the cleanup of the oceans and the processes that lead to plastic waste becoming a raw material for watches (and not only). After that, it is ML’s turn to use the material in an appealing way.
The watch was created in collaboration with Thai artist and ML Crew member Benzilla. Apart from perhaps some children’s watches, how many wristwatches out there feature such a visual feast? The bezel and crown are dressed in black, while the case body is executed in a vibrant shade of orange. The eye-catching shades and a 3-eyed character, ‘LOOOK’ – an alien who came from nowhere to live among us, make the watch really stand out.
The AIKON #tide Benzilla offers the same lightweight and wearability as the #tide family. The recycled plastic is not weighed down by the Swiss quartz movement. The date present at 3 o’clock is clearly visible. With its bright colors, the watch is a fun (not only) summer piece that will catch the eye of both watch and modern art lovers.
The watch can be found online here: Maurice Lacroix AIKON #tide Benzilla – CHF 750.00 incl. VAT. As a little secret, the watch comes in a coffee mug as a transport case. Manufactured from the same recycled plastic (17 plastic bottles are used to make the watch, the container and the bag), the practicality of this mug is doubled by the pride of making a passive contribution to the health of our oceans.
Corum Bubble X Aiiroh
Although Corum is a “middle-aged” brand – founded in 1955, it stands between the grand Maisons and the contemporary brands – it remains strong in the memory of watch enthusiasts with collections such as the Admiral, Bubble, Golden Bridge and Heritage. From the beginning, Corum was a name that dared to do things differently and brought fantastic pieces to the market, even if some of them are still regarded with skepticism. Personally, I love the Rolls-Royce collection.
But if there is one thing that literally stands out at Corum, it is the Bubble. A well-deserved name for a watch with a huge domed crystal. Introduced in 2000, the Bubble made an impressive statement that earned the brand a cult-like following. This collection has been used as the basis for many artistic and mechanical wonders (such as the superb central tourbillon launched at Baselworld in 2018).
For its latest creation, the brand collaborated with French street artist Aiiroh to bring a statement of “art on the wrist” to the forefront. Additionally, Aiiroh and artists Soyz Bank and Namisen, worked together to present a fabulous piece of wall art in the form of the Corum Certificate of Authenticity that accompanies the watch – a very complex and complete experience, unique in the watchmaking world.
A street artist for more than 20 years, Aiiroh has had his work exhibited in more than 50 galleries worldwide. He reinterprets iconic pop art figures using posters found on the streets of France’s top cities and even dropped some of his own iconic pieces as NFTs (for those who enjoy digital art).
In the Bubble, Aiiroh brings his own message: one of daring color and bold style. Crafted in stainless steel with black PVD coating, the watch is inspired by Aiiroh’s famous “Black Série Rose” artwork, which uses street posters and headlines in a decoupage-like collage to form the petals of a colorful rose. He then superimposes another stylized black rose spiral motif for added allure.
The Corum Bubble X Aiiroh is certainly a large watch – with its 47mm diameter and large crystal, it is powered by the mechanical automatic caliber CO 082 (with a 42-hour power reserve), which is also visible under the sapphire crystal.
The watch is limited to 88 pieces priced at CHF 8,000. More information can be found online here: Corum Bubble X Aiiroh.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sejima Edition
There is no doubt that Bulgari has enriched the watchmaking world in the artistic chapter. I fell in love with the brand the first time I saw the Serpenti on the wrist of “the last queen of Egypt”. All their jewelry and watches bear some kind of opulence. But if I had to choose a favorite line, that would be the Octo Finissimo.
Octo Finissimo is a wide collection ranging from ultra-light, ultra-slim time-only watches to complex minute repeaters in more classic or extravagant/exotic materials. The daring masculine lines are an open invitation to spectacular finishes. For this creation, Bulgari co-opted Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima. She is the winner of the 2010 Pritzker Prize – the highest distinction in this field – and of the Golden Lion at the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her work can be enjoyed all over the world: the Christian Dior store in Tokyo, the Rolex Learning Center, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or, my personal favorite, La Samaritaine in Paris.
Kazuyo Sejima’s own vision of the Octo Finissimo is characterized by a mirror effect and a play on transparency. The model features a powerful mirror effect on the sapphire crystal dial, enhanced by a dotted pattern on the top crystal, also designed by the Japanese architect. The mirror-polished steel case and bracelet add to the spectacular effect. Both on and off the wrist, this astonishing wristwatch shines intensely.
At 40mm in diameter and 6.40mm in thickness, the Octo Finissimo is already an interesting take. The addition of highly reflective surfaces makes it even more noticeable and eye-catching. The steel crown with a black ceramic insert is one of the key characteristics of the collection. Water-resistant to 100m, the watch is reminiscent of sports pieces, but the polished surfaces are rather sensitive: the model is a strong fingerprint magnet with enhanced visibility for finer scratches.
Due to the mirror effect, time reading is somewhat limited, but not critical. Only the small seconds hand between 7 and 8 o’clock is less visible. But a trained eye will easily spot it. As an ultra-thin Bulgari watch, the Octo Finissimo Automatic Sejima Edition also excels on the mechanical side: the 2.23mm thick caliber BVL 138 features a platinum micro-rotor and an impressive 60-hour power reserve.
Like the other pieces presented, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic Sejima Edition Ref. 103710 comes in a special mirror-effect steel case. With a retail price of €14,700.00 it is the most expensive of the three. Limited to 360 pieces, the watch is already sold out on the Bulgari website.