The Swatch × Tate collection debuted on March 20th at London’s Tate Modern gallery, home to over 76,000 art pieces. The reason for that is the latest Swatch art collaboration with Tate. There are seven new Swatch × Tate models, each representing a specific artwork — Turner’s Scarlet Sunset, Chagall’s Blue Circus, Miró’s Women and Bird in the Moonlight, Léger’s Two Women Holding Flowers, Matisse’s Snail, Barns-Graham’s Orange and Red on Pink, and Bourgeois’s Spirals. For the last one, there’s also a version with the SwatchPAY! system.

Swatch Art Journey 2024

Swatch and art go back a long way! Just two years after Swatch was founded, there was a Kiki Picasso collaboration in 1985. Over the years, Swatch has done many collaboration pieces with artists and museums. Last year, my colleague Daan went to Lisbon for the Swatch Art Journey 2023, for example.

Carlo Giordanetti, CEO Swatch Art Peace Hotel

Swatch × Tate

This year, though, the Swatch Art Journey 2024 was in London. Before we saw the new Swatch × Tate watches, we had a quick tour of the Tate Modern, stopping by some of the works that inspired these collaborations.

For example, we saw Henri Matisse’s 1953 collage The Snail, which inspired a new Swatch × Tate Gallery reference SO28Z127. Not all Swatch × Tate models have a replica of the artwork on the dial but they do use it as inspiration for the watch’s design. My favorite is the watch inspired by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Orange and Red on Pink from 1991, where the watch and strap can be seen as one piece of Barns-Graham’s artwork.

The Swatch Bourgeois’s Spirals was presented in a space inside a huge maze

An amazing maze!

Rather than presenting the watches on a tray to the guests (journalists, watch editors, lifestyle magazine editors, and many influencers), Swatch and Tate had us explore a gigantic life-size maze to find each watch presented in a separate room or space.

Turner’s Scarlet Sunset

This Swatch × Tate Gallery ref. SO28Z700 is a 34mm model. On the dial, the creative use of the calendar wheel brings additional depth, with the sun changing color across 14 days until the cycle begins again. The price of this watch is €100.

Miró’s Women and Bird in the Moonlight

The art of Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist Joan Miró often reflected his Catalan pride and identity. His Women and Bird in the Moonlight work from 1949 inspired this blue (bio-sourced ) Swatch × Tate Gallery ref. SO29Z136. The price of this 41mm watch is €110.

Chagall’s Blue Circus

Next up is the Swatch × Tate Gallery Chagall’s Blue Circus ref. SUOZ365. The whimsical characters of the circus inspired Chagall’s art throughout his life. This 41mm Swatch Gent brings the circus to life through the vivid and vibrant blue across the strap and dial. It is priced at €110.

Swatch x Tate Gallery Léger's Two Women Holding Flowers

Léger’s Two Women Holding Flowers

This Swatch × Tate Gallery ref. SUOZ363 contains Fernand Léger 1954 painting Two Women Holding Flowers (1954) on a matte black 41mm case and strap. The price of this version is €110.

Swatch x Tate Gallery Matisse's Snail

Matisse’s Snail

The only other Swatch × Tate Gallery edition with a 34mm case is Matisse’s Snail, inspired by the abovementioned artwork. The case and crystal are from bio-sourced material, and you will find Matisse’s signature on the transparent strap. This Swatch ref. SO28Z127 will be available from April 4th onwards and will cost €100.

Swatch x Tate Gallery Barns-Graham's Orange and Red on Pink

Barns-Graham’s Orange and Red on Pink

As written above, this 41mm Swatch × Tate Gallery Barns-Graham’s Orange and Red on Pink ref. SUOZ362 is my favorite of the seven models. It’s based on Barns-Graham’s 1991 artwork and will be available starting April 4th. The price of this Swatch will be €110.

Swatch x Tate Gallery Bourgeois's Spiral

Bourgeois’s Spirals

The final watch comes in two 41mm versions, one with and one without the SwatchPAY! system. French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’s Spirals from 2005 found its way onto the case and strap of this Swatch ref. SUOZ364 (and SVIZ105-5300 for the SwatchPAY! version). The regular version will cost €110, while the SwatchPAY! one will retail for €120. Both will be available starting April 4th.

Swatch CEO Alain Villard welcomes guests to the Tate Modern

Questions for Swatch CEO Alain Villard

Swatch’s collaborations with museums started in 2018. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum was the first, and now Swatch has collaborated with Tate. Carlo Giordanetti (CEO Swatch Art Peace Hotel) was already in close contact with Tate, but it wasn’t until 2023 that both parties agreed on and started the collaboration. The day after the introduction event, I sat down with Alain Villard and asked him a few questions about the Swatch × Tate project.

RJB: How do you select artists? Does Swatch do it in close collaboration with the museum or alone?

AV: Carlo and his team of specialists always have a lot of designs in mind (15–20), and they need to see what fits Swatch. It needs to work for everyone, of course, as well as for the artist or artwork. It was a smooth process, and we’ve gained a lot of experience creating these Swatch Art Journey collections.

RJB: Can you share the creative process of designing these Swatch × Tate watches?

AV: We did a lot of prototyping with the watch and straps. For example, we wanted to continue the design on the watch head and strap (but not always, as with the Spirals version). That said, it was only our proposal, so had to make sure that Tate agreed. We often work on collections like these for about a year in advance, and we decide on the materials, colors, buckles, etc. The process for this Swatch × Tate design was similar to our other watches, but since another party was involved, everyone needed to feel comfortable with the results.

Art watches for all

RJB: Who are the typical buyers for these watches — art collectors or Swatch collectors?

AV: We realize year after year that, of course, you have art lovers, but we also see a new generation of people who are not into art but enjoy these Swatch pieces. They discover the art through these Swatch models and want to learn more about it. We ensure that our Swatch boutique staff can explain the art to the clients. They know about the art and the artists. We take a lot of time to train the staff of the Swatch boutiques, and we also have this commitment with the Tate Gallery. We also have an e-learning system to ensure that everyone in the Swatch boutique knows about the artist, the history, and the artworks that inspired the Swatch models. 

RJB: What is your favorite watch from the Swatch × Tate Gallery collection?

AV: I will pick two! First, I will pick the Chagall. I love the design, and life at Swatch is a bit of a circus, so I like it and think it’s very cool with the moon on it (nodding to the MoonSwatch Mission to the Moonphase). The second is Bourgeois’s Spirals with the SwatchPAY! system. I love the watch and always wear a SwatchPAY! watch to make payments, even if I need to wear two Swatch models.

For more information on the Swatch × Tate Gallery collection, visit the brand’s website here.