Graffiti murals conjure images of sprawling walls, abandoned warehouses and a whiff of the illegal (not to mention the spray paint). But a wristwatch? Or rather, as Paris-based graffiti artist Cyril Kongo must have asked himself, “Why not a wristwatch?”
After a chance encounter with watchmaker Richard Mille, the two decided to do what no one’s done before and fuse contemporary art with the science of precision watch manufacturing. Here’s five interesting facts about the fruit of their labour, the RM 68-01.
Kongo carefully hand-treated each of the collection’s 30 watches with spray paint in graffiti style. However, this process is not just about slapping paint onto a watch’s surface – the weight of a coat of paint can easily disrupt the movement’s reliability, making this an extremely delicate operation.
It took over a year to develop Kongo’s painting technique, in which a specially created airbrush allowed him to deposit paint colours one droplet at a time. The indelible paints were also custommade so that they would adhere to the watch’s individual components (some of which are merely a few millimetres long), and withstand assembly and dismantling.
For extra punch, Kongo chose an asymmetric curved case that tapers in two directions – in thickness from 9 to 3 o’clock, and in height from 12 to 6 o’clock. It is assembled with 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium, which is an extremely corrosionresistant and rigid alloy commonly used in the aeronautical and automobile industries.
The sapphire crystal on the back of the RM 68-01 shows the central form of the tourbillon movement’s baseplate radiating outwards like a splash of paint. The sapphire crystal on the front reveals the movement bridges arching off in different directions, like an artist’s expressive brushstrokes.
This limited edition collection is already available at Richard Mille boutiques worldwide, with each piece costing US$685,000 (S$930,000).