Right now, collaboration is a powerful currency for both the brand and the partner it works with. Few industries boast a tradition of collaboration as rich as that found in the world of watchmaking. Since a watch is a smaller canvas to work on than clothing or shoes, collaborations yield much more unique results. Even the smallest changes in design significantly affect an original brand.
Watchmaking collaborations reflect a combination of eclectic worldviews and blend the art of watchmaking with broader cultural spheres such as art, sport or fashion. These partnerships with distinct personalities or brands are a strategic move to help expand the reach of the watch industry to various other subcultures.
It’s also about reaching audiences who might not even have considered buying or wearing watches before. By co-creating limited-edition products with pop culture favorites, “collaborations” capture the attention of consumers with diverse and niche interests and fan the flame of hype.
With top watch collaborations such as Vivienne Westwood X Swatch, Gucci X Fnatic and Bulgari X Tadao Ando appealing to fans and consumers around the world, we can’t wait to see more of these creative intersections.
Here are seven of the greatest watch collaborations of all time
Bulgari X Tadao Ando
Benefiting from an exclusive collaboration with the brand since 2019, the Bulagri X Tadao Ando is an exceptional high-end watch design, marking the marriage between Italian luxury brand Bulgari and renowned Japanese architect and 1995 Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando. .
The first-ever collaboration between the two was announced in November 2019, which included 200 pieces of an all-titanium watch – a sleek iteration of Bulgari’s 2017 octo finissimo automatic. Inspired by Ando’s minimalist architectural works featuring concrete and glass, this collection was originally designed exclusively for the Japanese domestic market. A 10-piece carbon tourbillon wristwatch was also quietly launched into the watch world alongside.
The unique watch in this release features a bold geometric design, paired with an attractive spiral pattern that covers the entire dial and emulates the concentric circles found in Japanese Zen gardens. Visible through a sapphire case back with Ando’s signature engraved, the watch has an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement with a platinum micro-rotor.
Launched in April 2021, the newest collaboration timepiece is the Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition, exuding understated elegance and featuring a matte or polished black ceramic case and strap with a luxurious sandblasted texture . Rising to critical acclaim and praise from the watch community, the meticulously crafted mechanical watch features a 40mm case and three-hand movement meant to evoke quiet contemplation.
The lacquered dial, bathed in a rich deep blue color, presents a mikazuki or a yellow gold crescent moon at five o’clock, which symbolizes the fleeting nature of time and the rebirth of all things in the cosmos according to Japanese culture. Featuring a transparent back bearing the architect’s signature, Ando expresses his vision of time through his modern design. Only 160 timepieces were produced for this selection.
Vivienne Westwood X Swatch
This iconic partnership between British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Swatch was formed in 1992 and 1993. While the original launch of the POP Swatch collection was in 1986, it was dubbed “Orb” once Westwood gave on display a regal but playful makeover. .
Crafted with the legendary designer’s signature punk and new wave aesthetic, the watches look like a cross between a gold medal and a Pokémon ball, making it one of the most special and original brand collaborations ever. all the time. The Pop Swatch Art Special ‘Orb’ debuted at its ‘Prêt-à-Porter’ or ready-to-wear fashion show in Paris, France. With inventive packaging and design, the watch’s black silhouette was adorned with a gold Victoria’s Cross.
Westwood introduced another iteration of his Pop Swatch series named “Putti” in 1993, giving off an autumnal color theme and the dreamy quality of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
Patek Philippe X Virgil Abloh
It would be remiss of us not to mention this extremely rare and exclusive watch collaboration between Swiss luxury watch brand Patek Phillipe and late fashion designer Virgil Abloh, with only two jeweled pieces ever produced. Before his death in 2021, Abloh was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and owned his own successful luxury streetwear brand, Off-White.
The rare Patek Phillipe X Virgil Abloh pieces are impossible to find, since Abloh and Canadian rapper Drake each owned the two watches created for this collaboration. If you listen to Drake and Future’s 2020 song “Life Is Good,” you can spot the lyrics dedicated to the rare green emerald-encrusted Patek Philippe Nautilus watch that belongs to him. The line of the song says “Virgil’s got this Patek on my wrist that’s going crazy.”
Gucci X Fnatic
The exclusive Gucci Dive watch was produced as part of a collaboration between gaming league and eSports entertainment brand Fnatic and luxury fashion house Gucci, designed to appeal to eSports fans. The limited-edition watch brought together Fnatic’s logo and signature black and orange coloring with Gucci’s monogram. On the watch, the archival code reflects both Guccio Gucci’s initials and the game’s slogan, “Good Game”.
Announced in 2020, the collection features a 40mm stainless steel case with a branded black rubber strap and hands and indexes illuminated with Super LumiNova accents to provide luminescence in the dark. The caseback of each watch is engraved with “Fnatic”, a unique limited edition number and is water resistant up to 200 meters deep.
“The Gucci Dive Reloaded” features branding that mixes the features of a diver’s watch, as well as a player keypad that lights up when used. The numbered pieces of the Gucci Dive have a contemporary feel with playful Gucci motifs such as bees and stars decorating the dial.
With only 100 pieces produced, this watch guarantees exclusivity and the potential to hold massive value as a collector’s item in the future.
Bremont X Jaguar
The two British companies have been working together since 2015 on various luxury watch collaborations. The most distinctive partnership is the Bremont Jaguar MKII BJ-11/WH celebrating the 60th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type car, which was first launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961.
The watch’s classic design is inspired by the lightweight Jaguar E-Type sports cars of the 1960s. With design details such as the blue perforated calfskin strap reminding the wearer of vintage racing gloves, Bremont has developed a exclusive in a limited edition in 2021. It includes two differently colored bezel chronographs, 60 pieces in green and 60 in grey, as well as the brand’s very first rally chronometer.
Incorporating two mechanical instruments – a stopwatch with a tachometer on the left and a clock with sub-seconds on the right – the rally stopwatch is a very functional and useful feature. Only 120 of these exclusive luxury watches have been produced to date.
Embodying the historic link between Rolex and motorsport, which was reinforced in 2013 by Rolex’s entry into the world of Formula 1 as a worldwide partner and official watch, the original Rolex Daytona was introduced in 1963 under the name of Rolex “Cosmograph” Daytona. The magnificent timepiece still remains one of the most iconic timepieces, which has spawned numerous collector’s item catalogs over the years. This series of motorsport and racing-themed watches was named to pay homage to Daytona Beach, Florida, which is the mecca of motorsport and home to the legendary NASCAR circuit.
These Rolex watches quickly became very popular in the racing community due to their functionality when calculating average lap speeds accurately down to the second using its trademark tachymeter bezel.
Designed to meet the demands of professional racing drivers, the chronograph is equipped with caliber 4130 and a self-winding mechanical movement. Comprising fewer components than a standard chronograph, its refined and symmetrical architecture thus reinforces the reliability of the movement.
Casio G-Shock X Honda Jet
Japanese watch company Casio G-Shock partnered with Honda Aircraft Company in 2020 and announced an exclusive collaboration that produced a special edition watch in the Casio GravityMaster series of aviation watches: the Casio G-Shock X HondaJet.
Taking inspiration from the 2003 ultralight and brightly colored business class private jet, the HondaJet HA-420, the Casio Gravity Master watch was developed by the Honda Aircraft Company. It is based on the concept sketches drawn by Michimasa Fujino, aeronautical engineer, president and CEO of the company.
The small face of the watch houses an airplane-shaped indicator located below the 12 o’clock mark. With touches of white and icy metallic blue and innovative design elements and textures that perfectly mimic the real Honda aircraft, the Casio Gravity Master is a striking timepiece coveted by the watch community around the world. The rugged watch is also engraved with the Honda Jet logo in three places and features impact-resistant Carbon Core Guard technology.
Hero and featured image: Courtesy of Virgil Abloh/@virgilabloh/Instagram