Hublot appointed Daniel Arsham as its latest ambassador on Monday.
“A lot of my work is about investigating our perception of time, how we how we quantify it, how we process it, how we sort of locate ourselves within it,” the American artist told WWD in an exclusive interview.
The watchmaker’s chief executive officer Ricardo Guadalupe called Arsham “one of the most exciting creative talents working in contemporary art today,” owing to a “bold, audacious, groundbreaking portfolio of work.”
A 2003 recipient of the prestigious Gelman Trust Fellowship Award and GNMH awards, Arsham’s artistic practice centers around what he described as “a kind of fictional archaeology has really been about taking objects from our present-day experience and projecting them into some potential future.”
In recent years, the artist has turned luxury goods and consumer products from the likes of Tiffany & Co, Rimowa or Xiaomi into artefacts transformed by the effects of geological time.
The New York-based artist joins a Hublot roster that includes Takashi Murakami, digital entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni, designer Samuel Ross, soccer star Kylian Mbappé and Michelin-starred chefs Anne-Sophie Pic and Yannick Alléno.
But don’t expect to put your name down to buy into their first collaboration. The one they’re unveiling on Monday morning is a 20-meter-wide sundial that will be carved into the snowy landscape in the upscale ski resort of Zermatt, Switzerland.
Given the scale, Arsham said it would “be difficult to see when you’re right up to it,” he said.
As a result, there will be two ways to experience the Zermatt sundial: from the top of the mountain looking down from a great distance and walking directly around it, a position from which one will be up close to the diamond-shaped obelisk in the center.
“This is an extremely large version of the ancient timekeeping device, and the markings of it are in many ways temporary,” as they change with evolving light conditions, he explained. “It’s counter to the idea of a watch, [an object] we think of as more permanent.”
This one won’t even last a year — by design, since it’s made of carved snow.
In the meantime, Arsham is already working on something that will stay. After getting up close with their sapphire and metal sintering technologies, he has his eye on making “a timekeeping device that leverages [Hublot’s] sapphire technology,” albeit on a different, “slightly larger” scale than a wristwatch.
Since his idea involves altering some of the movement, the object is very much a work in progress. As for any Arsham-designed wrist watches, only time will tell.