Collage Art: A Closer Look At The Bubble 47 x Aiiroh from Corum
A very inspired and somewhat eccentric collaboration between the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand and the French artist takes a funky approach to haute horology right to the streets.
Timepieces have always served as canvasses for artistic expression, even since the days of sundials. When it comes to fine watchmaking, artistic embellishment can be considered as important as a complication. But that doesn’t mean that decoration can’t be fun.
A Super Dome
For the last 22 years, Corum has used its classic oversized Bubble watch to collaborate with artists and designers. They aren’t the only brand to do creative mash-ups, but its huge domed crystal over a 47mm case provides a unique lens with which to focus in on the role of art and the theme of time.
But, more to the point, the 47mm Bubble footprint also provides a nice, high-impact platform for emerging talent: Like French pop artist Aiiroh. Like the iconic Jean-Michel Basquiat, Aiiroh began his creative efforts as a graffiti artist. He embraced the work of the “affichistes,” so-called stencil and poster artists (think Banksy and Shepard Fairey). He also began to incorporate daring color and bold styles along with branded logos to comment on how commerce influences our daily lives.
The artist’s unique take on luxury quickly gained notice internationally, with exhibits at galleries in France, Switzerland, Italy, the UK, Greece, Israel, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan following his street-wise exposure. And in a very meta commentary, he began to get commissions from large global brands of all stripes, such as carmaker Ferrari.
The Corum Bubble 47 x Aiiroh watch uses the artist’s most famous “Black Série Rose” motif. This series incorporates street posters and headlines in a decoupage-like collage to form the petals of a colorful flower. Over these frayed and faded elements, Aiiroh then superimposes a spiralized black rose.
The artist’s signature use of color is also reflected in the case and bracelet of the collaborative timepiece. Coated in black PVD, the classic Corum Bubble watch format becomes more like a stylized version of itself.
Enter the Fun House
One thing we love about Corum in general is that it marches to the the beat of its own drummer. The Bubble 47 x Aiiroh may seem outrageous to some, but, considering the collection has developed a cult-like status, any kind of inventive, artistic variation seems like fair game. A big part of this collaboration’s appeal is the deep emotions that the Bubble inspires. It’s not a love-it-or-hate timepiece, but rather an “I must possess this” versus a “Not for me, but I’m glad that it exists in the world” kind of decision.
Like art itself, personal emotional response is the key; your mileage may vary. But, consider that one of the ways that the Bubbles 47 x Aiiroh works so well is the level of care and curation the art component receives on the watch. Corum has used two different dial appliques to recreate the feeling of collage layers by starting with a black background. The delicate rose petal collage stands out from the stark dial by using almost fluorescent shades of turquoise, orange, lavender, purple, blue, red, yellow and green. This palette evokes memories of political signage and posters advertising concerts and festivals from the heyday or rock and roll.
Floating over this background is the second dial effect, composed of a swirling, stylized aluminum rose. And finally, the round sapphire crystal adds a slightly distorted view of all these elements. It’s more than a little trippy!
The watch is already a work of art, but Corum, Aiiroh and Japanese modern artist Namisen have further collaborated on a special art piece that will be sold along with the special Bubble collaboration. This sculptural piece will be realized in resin by French visual artist Soyz Bank. Aiiroh, Namisen and Soyz Bank are part of the Mind the Gap Label – a collective of emerging and established artists, and the design of this wall art is inspired by Corum’s own watch certificate and key logo design.
Artfulness aside, the Corum Bubble47 x Aiiroh is very much a working watch. It is powered by the mechanical automatic caliber CO 082 with 42 hours of power reserve. The movement is framed with a transparent sapphire crystal case back with an anti-reflective treatment. And if you happen to get it wet, or like to splash your own paint around, it is water resistant to 100 meters.