The past few years have seen watchmaking collabs across a whole spectrum of genres. From streetwear to survival gear to cartoon characters: more and more concepts are making their way into the watchmaking landscape. And now, Frederique Constant’s Passion Collection brings Philippine art into the world of luxury watches as well.
Swiss brand Frederique Constant has partnered with Filipino artist Dex Fernandez for a limited-edition release of 5 remarkable timepieces—each watch bearing a unique piece from the artist. All 5 watches are hand-painted and are set to be sold at the “Wear Your HeART” private auction. It’s the first time the brand is doing anything of this sort, and for Fernandez to be chosen for the collaboration speaks volumes.
“Indeed, this will be the first time we commission an artwork on our timepieces, so we are very excited about this project,” says Niels Eggerding, Frederique Constant’s Managing Director.
Founded in 1988, Frederique Constant is a watchmaking brand from Geneva, Switzerland, that creates luxury timepieces. With its hands-on production process that’s completely in-house, it’s managed to produce high-quality watches that remain accessible. The partnership with Fernandez is their entry into the world of one-off timepieces: something highly sought after by collectors.
Fernandez’s work is a collection of pop-infused psychedelia that takes several disciplines to create, including photography, painting, and layering. His illustrations have appeared on walls across the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan, and some of his works have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Singapore.
His work also comes with its own quirks, particularly his animal mascot—the garapata—which he believes represents the Filipino character. Garapata is the Filipino word for “tick,” a parasitic arachnid that feeds on blood and is a cousin to the spider. Still, despite what the image may suggest, Fernandez sees something else in the creature.
“They embody the Filipino character: they’re both resilient and they go everywhere,” Fernandez says. “They always look for a host. So now, Garapata found a new host in Frederique Constant.”
Garapata has since become his signature style in street art. And just like the arachnid which he believes represents Filipinos, his work can appear anywhere, often straddling the line between high and low art.
For the collaboration with Frederique Constant, Fernandez has hand-painted his signature character onto the dial of each watch in the collection. But it wasn’t without its challenges: one of them being the limited space he could work on.
Having roots as a graffiti and fine artist, he’s used to creating art on a much larger scale, using walls or larger canvases to get his message across. In this collaboration, he could only use parts of the dial, making sure that the watch remained legible even while his art appears on it.
“It’s like telling a story in five words,” Fernandez says, and goes on to say that the paintings in the watch aren’t just for decoration. Each one has a meaning attached to it.
“You have to look deeper and you will see the message,” he says. “Given the situation we are all in at this time, I really thought of inspiring concepts to motivate the wearer as well as the people who will see the watch.”
The Passion Collection
The whole collection is based on the idea that time can be spent or saved. And since we can’t make more of it, it should always be spent on something we’re passionate about. For the Passion Collection, Fernandez’s miniaturized paintings serve up several themes, each one encouraging the wearer to live their own passion:
Living Your Passion
“‘Live your passion,’ has always been Frederique Constant’s guiding principle,” Niels Eggerding explains. “It’s the relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence that make our watches special. That’s why we partnered with Dex Fernandez, an artist who understands that passion.”
“Art and watchmaking are very complimentary and very similar,” he continues. “Creating a watch is an art form, there are so many things to consider to make the final work look grand.”
“Watchmaking is a precise science and pays homage to the skills of the watchmaker, the human being, to incorporate art into the aesthetic beauty of a timepiece would only elevate its value and make the piece even more unique.”
And now, with this collection, we see what both fields can do when they work together. Each watch in the collection is entirely distinct from all the others, and only five pieces have been produced, making them highly collectible.
“This is a rare opportunity to own a special object,” Fernandez says. “I hope it goes to a good collector who will enjoy the watch and the message of my work.”
But knowing the spirit of the Garapata, these watches are likely to head anywhere, and they’ll keep ticking as long as they have a host to wear them.
The Wear Your HeART auction for the Passion Collection will be conducted in a private online group from May 4 to 11. Registration for the auction is open until April 29 (Fri.). If you’re interested in placing a bid, get in touch with Nikko Tiongson: firstname.lastname@example.org +639178430516