Watch Face Designed By Chinese Contemporary Artist Zhang Qikai
This week, Swiss luxury watchmaker Titoni — no stranger to the China market, as a corporate partner at the Shanghai World Expo’s Swiss pavilion — unveiled a China-only “Panda” watch design, based on a painting by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Qikai. Zhang has made a name for himself in the Chinese art world with his often humorous depictions of one of China’s national symbols, and, considering the seemingly perpetual love of high-end Swiss watches and pandas in China, it seems Titoni has hit something of a home run in their first China design partnership.
From Xinmin (translation by Jing Daily team):
Sichuan artist Zhang Qikai’s oil painting “Re-entry” was chosen by Swiss watchmaker Titoni as a watchface design. What’s more, this is the first time a native [Chinese] artist has been chosen for a high-end global brand partnership! Yesterday, Zhang’s “Panda” was unveiled at the Sichuan Fine Art Museum, and [we understand] that Titoni’s “Panda” watch will be limited to a production run of 250 pieces, each of which will cost 13,800 RMB (US$2,021).
According to Titoni President Daniel Schluep, in 2008 Schluep traveled to Chongqing to visit the famous Sichuan Art Museum, and the paintings of pandas he saw at Zhang Qikai’s studio left a strong impression. [Said Schluep,] “I was really moved by Zhang Qikai’s enthusiasm and passion towards pandas.”
Daniel Schluep told reporters that the lovable panda has long been China’s unofficial ambassador to Switzerland, and that Titoni’s partnership with Zhang Qikai was two years in the making. According to Schleup, out of a series of five or six panda paintings made by Zhang, the watchmaker chose the one used for the “Panda” watch, entitled “Re-entry.”
Although the reporter’s exuberance seems to have gotten the best of him, since this is not, as he says, the first time a Chinese artist has partnered with a top luxury brand — Ai Weiwei’s limited-edition shirt for Commes des Garcons immediately springs to mind — it’s only a matter of time before limited-edition China-only items with a particular cultural resonance become par for the course. Whether these partnerships take the form of BMW Art Cars or exclusive LV or Hermes handbags designed by blue-chip contemporary artists, we’re likely to see plenty more of them in coming years.