With a great tagline comes great responsibility, and last night Tudor lived up to theirs by daring to launch their 2017 collection in the midst of Australia’s most controversial art festival, Dark Mofo, in Hobart.
Talk about being #borntodare – this was a night with far fewer boundaries than usual for a luxury watch event. The guests tumbled from a fine dining experience at Franklin restaurant down a rabbit hole of scenes and settings that were, in as few words as possible, a David Lynch movie come to life.
Whole buildings were converted into experiential art spaces that might include nude yoga, a blasting punk gig by Pussy Riot, a ‘real’ tennis exhibition match in an indoor court built in the mid-19th century, and a rave where people were encouraged to lie on a floor and have pebbles poured over them.
1. There was no real agenda or schedule
Can you imagine? A Swiss watch event with no meticulous itinerary? Crazy. Town. This was not a tightly choreographed whistlestop tour of weirdness – guests were encouraged to disappear and do things by themselves. It was not a breath of fresh air as much as a gale force wind that left everyone heady. (Or that could have been the take-away coffee cups of ‘hot gin punch’, hmmm.)
2. Dark Mofo skates on the edge of brilliance and total chaos
Dark Mofo, staged by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), runs over two weeks and basically wraps whole swathes of the city in weirdness and wonder. Jarrod Rawlins, one of the curators from MONA, explained over dinner that “we can get away with a lot down here; there’s not as much regulation.” He spoke of ordering 500kg of blood and intestines for an installation. Of taking over an abandoned insane asylum and leaving it untouched for 12,000 guests to walk through, with an in-residence artist occupying the space and staying awake for 72 hours. He admitted also that their plan to utilise a bull carcass for an art performance over the weekend has the festival’s offices running hot with complaints and threats to personal safety for months preceding. All in a day’s work for the MONA team.
3. Pussy Riot (nearly) played
Yes, that Pussy Riot. They were definitely in the city. They were drinking at the bar. They were rumoured to be doing a DJ set, then a punk gig. Did they play disguised as another band with the nom de plume Bitch Diesel? I’ll never know. But I loved Bitch Diesel. That much was certain. (News to hand: Pussy Riot performed a DJ set every night at the festival’s late-night roaming art party, Welcome Stranger, which straddled six venues across three city blocks.)
4. It was a watch event and it wasn’t in Sydney or Melbourne
So daring. And hopefully it sets a trend. Hobart the city, like Tudor the brand, has been transformed over the last five years – the jolt from an Australian backwater that was the butt of many unflattering jokes to an edgy arts epicentre happened in one simple stroke. And that was with the opening of MONA, and all that is associated with the experience.
5. There was no talk of watches. None.
Sure, the watches were there (and you’ll be pleased to know I took the chance to take a good look at the BB Chrono, which I still can’t land an opinion on) but General Manager of Tudor, Patrick Boutellier, barely gave them a sideways glance in his speech, which was more about Tudor’s growth as a brand in recent years, its burgeoning singular identity, the way it’s been embraced by Australian watch lovers (you guys, basically), and the similarities in attitude Tudor has to the curators of MONA, who think boundaries are for pushing. He did mention the chronograph movement and the millions of dollars of R&D that went into its creation.
The last word should go to MONA curator Jarrod Rawlins: “Don’t give the people what they want, because they don’t know what they want until you give it to them,” was his mantra, which recurred throughout his speech. No matter how you look at it, Tudor are doing some pretty daring things in 2017 – a mainstream ambassador poached from a competitor, the very same one they are collaborating with on a couple of movements, and an evolution of the collection into luxe and precious metals. And now, a luxury watch event that was more like a drunk dream. And not a watch-brand papered super-yacht in sight. Now that’s daring.