The Art Watch is Exclusive Artwork on Miniature Canvas

Image of Blancpain Great Wave luxury watch. Photo: Blancpain
The Blancpain "Great Wave" luxury watch. Photo: Blancpain.

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Text by Showable Art.

We know how the fine watch business and the art world enjoy close ties. Yet, a luxury art watch is an artwork in itself, with the dial serving as a miniature canvas. From etchings to appliqué of gold on the dials, watchmakers have created limited-edition models that collectors covet. Owning one of these watches is owning something genuinely exclusive.

Blancpain – the “Great Wave” Art watch

Blancpain’s Métiers d’Art studio has introduced the Great Wave art watch. The woodblock print called The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai is the inspiration for this watch design. The timepiece features the gemstone Mexican silver obsidian and the Japanese technique of rokushō patina. The semi-transparent volcanic gemstone provides a base for the wave of white gold appliqué. The case is platinum. Keeping with the gray color scheme, Blancpain pairs the timepiece with a stormy gray Swiss-made calfskin strap.

Image of Blancpain Great Wave luxury art watch. Photo: Blancpain
Blancpain “Great Wave” luxury art watch.
Photo: Blancpain

JAQUET-DROZ – Loving Butterfly

A drawing titled “Le papillon conduit par l’amour” (Butterfly Driven by Love), which was sketched in 1774 by The Draughtsman, an automaton created by Jaquet-Droz, is the inspiration for this animated art watch named Loving Butterfly. The timepiece features a dial made from Chinchilla Red, a wood petrified 140-180 million years ago. Exceedingly rare and dense, the mineral was formed when fir trees covered in volcanic ash were swept away by lava.  

The design on the Chinchilla Red dial features a butterfly pulling a cherub on a chariot. Both the chariot and the butterfly are comprised of several dozen stationary and moving hand-etched appliqués. The scene is full of details bringing the scene to life. For example, the wheels of the chariot turn, and the butterfly’s wings flutter in time. Plus, the wings are placed almost touching the sapphire crystal, making it seem like the butterfly is about to fly out of the watch. A backdrop of hand-crafted gold trees surrounds the figures.

Uylsse Nardin – The Classico Tiger

The Swiss watch brand Ulysse Nardin is known for its high-design timepieces. Their Classico Tiger design employs centuries-old champlevé and paillonné enameling techniques. The watch was created to honor the Chinese Year of the Tiger, which begins in February 2022. The Tiger is made of rose gold, with production limited to only 88 pieces.  

Close-up image of Ulysse Nardin Classico Tiger watch
Ulysse Nardin “Classico Tiger” luxury art watch.
Photo: Ulysse Nardin

Art Watch Availability

These watches are usually not available in the public retail markets. Instead, they are made in very small quantities, often to-order through an authorized dealer. You might get fortunate and find one on the resale market or through collectors’ networks.  

Nonetheless, other watches from Blancpain, Jacquet-Droz, and Ulysse Nardin are available from