This feature has been produced in partnership with Swatch.
The 80s was a particularly stylish decade; one that saw an explosion of creativity, technology and societal change.
One of the most quintessential pieces of 80s culture is the Swatch. The clever plastic watch virtually single-handedly saved the Swiss watch industry: minimalist, affordable and available in a wide range of colours, the original Swatch was an immediate success and became wildly collectible. Millions were sold, saving the Swiss watch industry and creating a bonafide icon of 80s design.
Another 80s icon was the late Keith Haring. The American pop artist and activist’s postmodern, cutting-edge, socially conscious yet contagiously upbeat graphics spoke for an entire generation. The bold lines, energetic figures and subversive messages that define his work remain just as captivating and instantly recognisable today.
Therefore it seems natural that these two worlds – Swatch and Keith Haring’s art – would find themselves together on a watch. Indeed, Haring collaborated with Swatch within his own lifetime, having designed four watches before opening his infamous Pop Shop on Lafayette Street in downtown New York. The designs were then sold in his store in a limited edition and remain some of the most collectible Swatch watches today.
Now, in 2021, Swatch has announced a new collaboration with the Keith Haring Studio, this time centering around one of Haring’s favourite subjects – Disney’s legendary mascot, Mickey Mouse.
First, we have the 34mm ‘Mouse Marinière’, which takes the classic French nautical stripe and gives it a pop art twist. The rough, thick, vivid red stripes contrast with a characteristically energetic Haring take on Mickey, with plenty of Haring’s signature action lines and scrappy finish.
His illustration of Disney’s most famous character is etched on the glass watch case for added depth and movement.
Next we have the comparatively subdued 41mm ‘Mickey Blanc Sur Noir’, a more minimalist take on the mouse that evokes the comic-book style Haring loved so much.
A monochromatic palette offset by yellow, skeletonised hands make this watch idiosyncratically dapper – the kind of watch you’d want to wear to a fancy art gallery to show everyone up with.
Or maybe you want to go ‘full Haring’ and make a big 80s style statement. The ‘Eclectic Mickey’ might be more up your alley, then: with a psychedelic design that explodes out of the dial down onto the straps of the watch, it’s a subversive take on the Disney mascot.
The collection also includes the ‘Maxi Eclectic Mickey’, which takes the 41mm watch and blows it up into a 2m-tall wall clock: a fun and functional piece of art.
For those who want an even more personal, distinctive timepiece, Swatch have also added Keith Haring’s designs to their Swatch X You program, which gives you limitless opportunities to customise your Swatch. Choose your combination of Haring’s Mickey graphics, the mechanism of your liking, and even personalise the caseback – talk about artistic expression.
All in all, this collection from Swatch is an absolute masterstroke, proving that the brand’s just as innovative as it was back in the 80s. Clever, distinctive and filled with character, these watches are a real treat.