Swatch and Louvre Abu Dhabi announce new wave collaboration as watches meet art

Museum's timeless masterpiece by Katsushika Hokusai recreated for accessory collection

The watch is inspired by The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai and an astrolabe by Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Battuti. Photo: Swatch
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The countdown is on for a new watch collection featuring famous artworks from Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Swiss watchmakers Swatch has taken two acclaimed works from the museum’s permanent collection, combining them in one striking design as part of its Art Journey Collection.

The Swatch x Louvre Abu Dhabi watch is inspired by The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai and an astrolabe crafted by 18th-century astronomer Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Battuti.

Hokusai’s 1831 masterpiece is part of the famous Japanese series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which depicts Japan’s highest mountain from different viewpoints in various weather conditions. The artwork’s crashing waves are recreated on the watch face, cascading down the straps in eye-catching Prussian blue.

The watch’s underside, meanwhile, is etched with an impression of the astrolabe by Ibn Ahmad Al-Battuti, with the projection of a night sky adding a touch of regional heritage to the design.

By measuring the position and altitude of the stars, astrolabes were used to calculate time and location in historic times and were used by Arabs from the 8th century.

The astrolabe lets you know what time it is and helps you navigate through the seas, making for the perfect blend between the two artworks
Latifa Al Azdi, Louvre Abu Dhabi

The complete Swatch Art Journey Collection features 10 Gent and New Gent watches inspired by works from the world’s most celebrated museums and artists, including MoMA in New York and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, with another capsule to be revealed in May.

Recognisable works include Girl and Reverie by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, The Birth of Venus by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli and Son of Man by surrealist painter Rene Magritte.

The first watches will be available worldwide from Thursday, with the Dh380 Louvre Abu Dhabi design available from April 13 in Swatch stores and their website.

Announcing the collection on Friday, Swatch chief executive Alaian Villard spoke of the brand’s long-standing ties with the art world, which has spurred collaborations with 460 artists from 54 countries since 1984, including Damien Hirst and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Speaking of the originality of the design, Carlo Giordanetti, chief executive of Swatch Art Peace Hotel, explained why the Abu Dhabi watch is one of his personal favourites. “We basically closed in and went into [the painting] to almost make it a masterpiece of abstract art,” says Giordanetti.

“It definitely has the energy of the ocean, it has the energy of the wave, you can feel the breeze in the same way you can feel in the presentation [of the original painting].

“There is something unique about this watch and the project we did together. This is the only watch where two artworks come together onto the product. It’s a great tribute to analogue culture.”

The watch was presented at a virtual launch by Latifa Al Azdi, head of communications at Louvre Abu Dhabi. “We selected The Great Wave off Kanagawa because of its composition, the intensity of the contrast and the unmissable blue colour ... it’s an iconic Hokusai painting,” says Al Azdi. “The astrolabe lets you know what time it is and helps you navigate through the seas, making for the perfect blend between the two artworks.”

Updated: March 13, 2023, 12:10 PM