Daniel Arsham x Hublot: The watch ambassador without a watch – yet… Daniel Arsham x Hublot: The watch ambassador without a watch – yet…

Daniel Arsham x Hublot: The watch ambassador without a watch – yet…

Zach Blass

As Disney CEO Bob Iger has suggested due to the onslaught of Marvel films and series, the resulting saturation of watch brand collaborations has created a sense of collaboration-fatique for watch consumers. With each new collaborative piece, the novelty perhaps weans a tad. Of course, if a collaboration is solid, people get very excited – nobody, regardless of purchase intent, would ever be against a new cool watch hitting the market. But, with so many collaborations, the stakes are high when it comes to standing out. After attending a special private dinner with Hublot at their ambassador artist Daniel Arsham’s private residence in the Hamptons, however, it has become very clear, were he to be enlisted, Arsham would be very up to the task. But, as of now, Arsham is the watch ambassador without a watch – at least yet…

Let’s take things back to the beginning. On a Friday afternoon, I headed down the FDR drive in NYC to arrive at the Blade Aqua lounge where a Seaplane awaited me and various other guests joining in on the evening. It was my first-ever ride in a seaplane, a welcome experience considering it’s not every day you are able to charter one and, considering the inevitable traffic, the seaplane offers a 50 minute flight from NYC to the East Hampton airport rather than an hours-long drive. Lifting off from the middle of the Hudson River, we were treated to a lovely view of the New York City landscape.

Arriving at the airport, we then were quickly shuttled by van over to Arsham’s private residence in Water Mill, New York. As an artist, I imagine the design and curation of his residence is, at least to an extent, an ever-changing and evolving thing – a project that never fully comes to a full stop. But, while touring his home, he shared that the visiting group with Hublot were really the first guests he had invited over as this residence was a rather recent move. After completing various renovations to his prior home, he received an offer he could not refuse – leading him to purchase his current home and embarking on a fresh renovation project.

Daniel Arsham Hublot

The outside of the residence is very minimalist and industrial. Please forgive me, as I am by no means a journalist from Architectural Digest. But, it is fair to say the hue and ribbing of the exterior of the home is almost reminiscent of a shipping container. Inside, however, you walk in to find an interior design that only an artist like Arsham could curate.

With many of his works on display, each room is filled with pieces of the signature Arsham aesthetic: furniture printed with what felt like in-line written notes or his signature white sculptures with spots of excavation revealing crystals within.

Daniel Arsham Hublot

His appreciation for the passage of time and contemplation was furthermore on display when we arrived at his Japanese garden, with a perfectly manicured tree and richly raked lines in the sand. I can only imagine in moments of stress or when you need to brainstorm the garden provides an outlet of zen and serenity, just steps away whenever it is needed.

Daniel Arsham Hublot

In fear of inclement weather, rather than have dinner outside we assembled inside his studio – the artifacts within yet another window into the mind of the artist. Various works, a collection of Porsche cars (and even a miniature Porsche for his son), and a Tiffany & Co. branded wall-mounted basketball hoop were arrayed on the largely white minimalist walls – leaving his works and items to bring colour and personality to the space. As expected of such an event, the curated cocktails and menu were sensational. But, the nature of the courses only heightened the sense we were still in what ultimately was a family home and space. It can be assumed stepping into such a space would be intimidating, but it was all very welcoming and inviting.

Such a recap is not part of the regular Time+Tide diet, but it is necessary context for the natural conclusion I arrived at by the end end of the evening. Some ambassadorships can feel a bit forced, parties effectively using each other for mutual commercial gain. But, witnessing Arsham’s philosophy through his curated works and his emphasis on, at least by my observation, the natural passage of time and exploration with materials, he could not be a better fit to work with Hublot and their art of fusion mantra. Daniel Arsham Hublot

Arsham explained: “So much of my work is about time, our kind of interpretation of it, how we package it, how we plan our days and our years. So, I was fortunate last year to visit Hublot in Switzerland and see the workshop. You know, watchmaking, so much of it is about materials and the manipulation of materials to package time and so it was a kind of natural extension of my work to collaborate with a watch brand.”

Arsham’s inaugural project with Hublot as an ambassador, was not a watch. But, it was certainly horological in nature. Earlier this year, Arsham and Hublot created a temporary 20-metre sundial on the facade of a mountain in Zermatt. This installation was designed with the intention of fading, or more aptly melting, away, literally born to eventually die so to speak – unknowingly tracking time as its own time runs out.

Were a wristwatch project to be done, we would, of course, not want to purchase a watch that would slowly disappear from our wrist. But seeing Arsham’s Pokemon sculptures first hand, and knowing Hublot’s mastery with materials and previous highly faceted watch designs with artist Richard Orlinski, I could easily envision a watch that hones in on Arsham’s white sculptures frozen in time. Frozen in the future.

Just imagine: a white ceramic Big Bang watch with fractured lugs, sunken and faceted to mimic the aesthetic of exposed crystals within Arsham’s sculptures. The dial could then take-on the white-sandy texture and feel of the sculptures as well, with the recesses of the sub-dials yet another opportunity to create that excavated crystal look. The monochromatic nature of what I am suggesting may not be the most legible at times, but that would cater to the “frozen in time” feel in a way. I also feel that a pivot away from applied elements on the dial, and instead elements raised or sunken in relief would further tie in to the look of Arsham’s works as well.

Daniel Arsham Hublot

To be clear, I have no official word of any timelines or possible designs for such a project. Who knows. Maybe we will see something next year, maybe in a few years, or possibly even never. All I do know is that Arsham’s creativity and design ethos are a wonderful catalyst for an interesting collaborative design. Were he and Hublot to do it, I imagine it would be a watch release that actually justifies the industry-term “novelty”.