CATCH ‘EM ALL: Buy a watch, get a matching NFT? That’s so 2022.
For the fourth collaboration, watchmaker Hublot and artist Takashi Murakami have flipped the tables around, with the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Black Ceramic Rainbow unveiled on Thursday at New York’s Glass House.
Nodding to the previously released Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black and Sapphire Rainbow watches, this new iteration is a 45mm version with a black ceramic case. Murakami’s smiling flower takes pride of place, with 12 petals that spin with every movement of the wrist and decked in a rainbow gradient of rubies, sapphires, amethysts, tsavorite and topaz.
But customers can’t just whip out a credit card or cryptowallet to get this watch and its NFT counterpart.
First, people will have to collect the 12 NFTs that come attached to each of the 12 Classic Fusion watches featuring a single petal of the artist’s famous flower and launching in April.
And shoppers can only get one of those if they already own one of the 324 NFTs released after the 2022 edition of the Watches & Wonders fair — only to owners of the Murakami-designed watches released in 2021.
Hublot chief executive officer Ricardo Guadalupe stated that this new chapter in their partnership was an occasion “to construct a history that interlinks all the works [Hublot has] released with Takashi [Murakami], both digital pieces and the watches themselves,” in a statement announcing the 13-strong watch collaboration.
“There are people who start to get really activated when you push the button of [collection], especially in Asia — we love to collect a lot of small things,” Murakami said through a translator ahead of the launch, likening this launch to movies made with movie fans top of mind.
He attributed the success of his ongoing collaboration with Hublot to an ability to “think about this type of entertainment that is linked to collecting and collectability” that has both propelled his 30-year personal career but also the conversations with the brand.
“In that sense, we’ve been working together well in terms of providing something that would powerfully stimulate [this kind of] motivation for people to collect. And I wanted to create something like a potent drug for someone to really want to collect,” he continued.
The number of watches was determined by the 12 petals of Murakami’s smiling flower, a design he had originally sketched freehand. Each of the 12 watches will represent one of the petals.
“It just happened to have that many petals and came to resemble family crests that are often seen in Japanese traditional households,” explained Murakami. He’d come to love flowers so much that he “still wants to open a flower shop sometimes” after teaching in art-centric prep schools where they are a recurrent subject.
For the Japanese artist, this fourth chapter delves further into a goal of “adopting new forms of artistic expression,” built into his collaboration with the watchmaker from the get-go.
NFTs felt like a necessary evolution of his artistic practice, brought on by the “huge shift” ushered in by cryptocurrencies and blockchain, which he described as new worlds emerging now with their “own economic rights and roles” where “you can exchange information and materials freely.”
“To be in touch with those worlds’ audience and the new value system is important for my creative process and creative act. If I just eliminated those new things and kept emitting my creativity or information with the existing world that I’m used to, I will just get bored,” he added.
For would-be owners of any of the 12 new watches and corresponding exclusive NFTs, there’s no time for boredom: they have until early April to get on the OpenSea digital collectibles marketplace and acquire one of the NFTs attached to the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black and Sapphire Rainbow watches.
These NFTs are priced at 1.69 Ethereum (equivalent to $2,817) and 3.199 Ethereum (or around $5,333) on the marketplace.
After that, only the person who will have assembled the full set of 12 NFTs by April 2024 will be able to purchase the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Black Ceramic Rainbow. Should no one assemble the full NFT set by the deadline, it will be auctioned by Hublot to raise funds for charity.