Sneaker Time: Watches Of Switzerland Matches Hype Shoes With Wrist Candy
The installation at Watches of Switzerland’s SoHo location is a rare cross-pollination that brings out the studious side of the sneakers and the playful side of the watches. On display through December 2nd.
Talk to a watch brand executive for two minutes and they’ll tell you that there’s a burning focus on attracting a new generation of customers. This stems, in part, from the concern that the industry’s current clientele will age out, never to be replaced. But there’s also the view that there are entire pockets of untapped people out there who are watch lovers but just don’t know it yet, and why not got them hooked sooner rather than later?
According to a 2019 report by PwC and Hypebeast (a partner for this event), the once-niche streetwear genre now accounts for about 10 percent of the entire global apparel and footwear market. Brands like Off-White have been some of the most talked about labels for a few years running and Virgil Abloh is giving orders around Louis Vuitton. Look around your office and you’ll see that sneakers are more acceptable than ever.
The Sneaker Time installation at Watches of Switzerland’s SoHo location blends the two perhaps not-so-disparate worlds of watch collecting and sneaker collecting. By matching 15 unique watches with 15 coveted pairs of kicks, hidden harmonies emerge.
The two cultures of hype and horology have had historically little cross-over outside of rap lyrics. As the installation in SoHo comes together, the staff of Watches of Switzerland, with their suave but serious suits, stand apart from the Hypebeast crew decked out in cheetah, ironic camo, and sneakers that are just the right amount of ugly. And while the ultimate crowd for this affair may be more Nautilus than Calatrava, more Hot 97 than Hodinkee Radio, Sneaker Time and events like it might just be the gateway drug that pulls enthusiastic collectors from their solar system to ours.
HYT SOONOW paired with the Nike Paranorman Foamposite
We’re starting hot out of the gates with this HYT and Nike pairing. Of all watch brands today, HYT seems to hold the most “hype” DNA - always pushing boundaries through limited quantity pieces that jump off the wrist. The SOONOW is a 25-piece limited edition brought to life by a bright skull motif outlined in the brand’s signature fluid track for measuring elapsed minutes.
These elements are echoed in the rather goolish Nike Paranorman Foamposite sneakers, a highly sought after model offered exclusively through social media. The color alignment here is on-point with the lime green fluid of the HYT pairing nicely with soles of the Foamposites (did we mention they glow in the dark?!)
Ulysse Nardin Freak X Black Marquetry paired with the Balenciaga TRACK.2
The Balenciaga TRACK.2 sneakers are the 2019 revival of the brand’s popular TRACK model. The new edition brings a skeletonized vibe with the sneaker upper composed of 176 separate pieces, weaving metallic mesh and angular leather over recesses of negative space. Likewise, the Freak X Black Marquetry, which sounds a bit like a streetwear sneaker itself, features a silicium marquetry dial made from a hand collage of roughly 120 delicate silicon wafers, each reflecting light at a slightly different angle and color. The seemingly floating balance wheel of the Freak X mirrors Balenciaga’s play between negative and positive space.
Armin Strom SKELETON PURE for Sneaker Time paired with the Air Jordan 4 Retro KAWS
An overrated artist and an underrated watchmaker meet in this muted gray matchup. KAWS, the contemporary artist known for his often larger-than-life skeleton characters, applies a monochromatic touch to the classic Air Jordan 4. This Armin Strom SKELETON PURE shows the firm’s Calibre ARM09-S in all its layered complexity and features a custom gray and blue strap made to match to the colorway of the sneaker. Never before have suede and titanium looked so good together.
Hublot Big Bang Unico White Ceramic paired with the Kanye West x Louis Vuitton Jas “Patchwork”
Imma let you finish, but Kanye West made one of the best sneakers of all time. I’m referring, of course, to the 2009 VMA quote from Yeezes/Yandi/Kanye himself, the same year that he designed these cream sneakers with Louis Vuitton, whos menswear collection is now headed by streetwear legend Virgil Abloh. This pairing keeps within the LVMH portfolio with the accompanying Big Bang in white ceramic. Hublot is a frequent reference in rap songs, including one with Kanye himself - “New watch alert, Hublot's. Or the big face Rollie I got two of those.”
Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk paired with the Nike Air Max 90 Warhawk
And now for something that you might not have expected at an event like this, a bit of history! Both the Breitling and the Nikes are styled to commemorate the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the fighter plane with its distinctive tiger shark teeth that was flown by American volunteers, the Flying Tigers, as they defended China from Japan prior to the US’s entry into WWII. The color palettes are aligned perfectly between the watch and the shoe, and the bold graphics might just get footwear fans excited for the history behind the hype.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)