Art in Time: The Independents Using Watches as Canvases For Artistic Expression  - Oracle Time
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Art in Time: The Independents Using Watches as Canvases For Artistic Expression 

ZANNETTI Scuba Micropittura

Any well-made watch is a work of art in a way, with the attention to detail and skill necessary to built a fine timepiece. Then there are those that take things in a much more literal direction. Sure, it’s a small canvas to work with, but a watch dial can be a pretty apt space for a splash of creative flair. As you can see overleaf, there’s more than a few watches out there that take inspiration from and are created in collaboration with designers, architects and painters aplenty. We however thought we’d turn to the creative world of microbrands and highlight some of the lesser known out there, from cool, under-the-radar collaborations to exquisite artisan crafts.

Ikepod X Tom Christopher

Ikepod X Tom Christopher

With their incredibly tactile round cases and extra-terrestrial style, Ikepod’s been a favourite of the style conscious since the 90s and the Megapod has proven itself a seriously appealing canvas to work on. Enter Tom Christopher, who has leveraged his unique, urban style to create a stunning, Inception-esque cityscape around the edge of the dial. Interspersed with a mix of skaters and birds, it’s colourful, joyous and makes perfect use of the Megapod’s impressive dimensions. It’s New York on a wristwatch and it’s hard not to love.

The Specs

  • 46mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Miyota 9039 movement with 42-hour power reserve
  • £1,270, limited to 200 pieces, available at The Devoy Group.

Alexander Shorokhoff Kandy Avantgarde 2

Alexander Shorokhoff Kandy Avantgarde 2

The original 2019 run of this German-designed watch sold out incredibly quickly and it’s not hard to see why. With its swirls and stripes of colour, eye-catching doesn’t begin to do it justice. Neither does the term Avant Garde for that matter. If you’re after a watch that stands out of the crowd, look no further. Backed by a cal.2892 ETA. Movement and a cool, blacked-out, PVD case it’s as solid as it is fun. The only downside is that it’s a pretty small limited edition, so get in there quick if you don’t want to miss out on this second run. Who knows when there’ll be a next?

The Specs

  • 41mm PVD stainless steel case with 30m water resistance
  • ETA 2892 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
  • €3,290 EUR (approx. £2,860), limited to 100 pieces, available at Alexander Shorokhoff.

Mr Jones A Perfectly Useless Afternoon

Mr Jones A Perfectly Useless Afternoon

A perfectly accessible timepiece for a perfectly useless afternoon, British designer Mr Jones’s best-seller is, quite possibly, the ultimate casual summer timepiece. Designed by Belgian illustrator Kristof Devos, the watch is an ode to poolside relaxation, the time read by the leg dangling in the water. Paired with unusually long lugs and a rather lovely strap, it’s a cool, quirky watch, the type we don’t even mind being quartz. The downside? We’re far too British to look at this watch and not itch to put some sun cream on.

The Specs

  • 37mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Quartz movement
  • £175, available at Mr Jones.

Shinola Silly Putty Detrola

Shinola Silly Putty Detrola

Coming at creativity from the angle of an overexcited, sugared-up six-year-old, Detroit-based brand Shinola has harnessed everyone’s favourite amorphous blob to create this eye-catching combination of cherry red, coral and aqua. It’s bold and not just because of the colours; at 43mm it’s a big watch, all built around a resin case with stainless steel core. Rose-tinted doesn’t even come into it. If, according to MB&F, creativity is a child that survived, this is an adult that’s regressed… and we love it.

The Specs

  • 43mm TR90 resin case with 50m water resistance
  • Argonite 705 quartz movement
  • $395 USD (approx. £290), available at Shinola.

Zannetti Scuba Micropainting Blue Stormy

Zannetti Scuba Micropainting Blue Stormy

For most watchmakers a practical tool watch doesn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with an artistic medium as demanding as micropainting. Evidently Italian brand Zannetti are not most watchmakers. The 41mm stainless steel case is of chunky diving proportions, complete with over 500m water resistance, which makes the epic image of a sailing ship tearing through the waves all the more apt. Combined with a shimmering bezel in ocean blue and yellow highlights and backed by a solid automatic movement, the Scuba Art Micropainting is a watch of stunning contrasts.

The Specs

  • 41mm stainless steel case with 550m water resistance
  • Swiss calibre automatic movement
  • Price on request, available at Zannetti.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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