Jodie Freeman x Swatch: The Watch Celebrating Aboriginal Culture
- Swatch and Aboriginal Bluethumb artist Jodie Freeman recently collaborated on a freshly dropped edition of watches
- The Swatch X You collection is the company’s most customisable set to date
- Artwork chosen for the collaboration depicts the Indigenous communities of Australia as well as ancestral elders
- Swatch’s previous artist collaborations include Keith Haring, Damien Hirst and MoMA
Ever since its inaugural years in the 1980s, watch brand Swatch has been a Swiss icon that is reliable, practical and durable, yet embraces the limitless potential for its design. Inexpensive, fun, and personable, Swatch has had many a notable collaborations that have consistently pumped playfulness and innovation into a staple accessory.
With a variety of watches continuously inspired by popular culture of countries and communities across the world, their most recent Swatch X You collection has just dropped and is bringing Australian culture into the limelight. Aboriginal Bluethumb artist Jodie Freeman was chosen for a collaboration that combines Aboriginal heritage, cultural significance and an incredible customisable design into the collection. Jodie created a piece especially for this collaboration, entitled Nations of Australia.
“Swatch X You provides Swatch fans and art fans with their very own beautifully bespoke watch,” the company explains. “After choosing Nations of Australia as a base, the customisation continues with the colour of the watch mechanism and the choice of indexes. A personal 15-character message on the back of the dial completes the process, resulting in a unique work of art.”
Nations of Australia was inspired by Jodie’s ancestors and elders; the artwork represents all the different mob nations around Australia. The significance of the dots inside the outline of Australia represent the different communities living in Australia, while the dots around the outside represent ancestors around us who protect and unite us all.
“It makes me so proud to be involved in such an innovative and dynamic project such as this,” says Jodie on the collaboration. “It made me proud to be involved in a collaboration that was global with such a well known company such as Swatch, but also proud of my culture and heritage. I’m an extremely proud Gamilaroi Yinarr (Gamilaroi woman) and being given this opportunity to showcase my art and history and story was heartwarming. This will definitely be a project to remember fondly.”
Who Else Has Collaborated With Swatch?
To celebrate our collaboration, this week we’re looking back at Swatch’s previous collabs that have made a long-lasting impact on the wristwatch industry. Whether it’s for the rareness factor, their impeccable design or the value of the collaboration today, read on for ten of the most memorable pairings between artists and Swatch.
1. Kiki Picasso (1985)
Within just the first two years of its founding, Swatch teamed up with their first artist. Kiki Picasso designed a super limited 140-piece run of this edition, which depicted a post-modern, stained glass window motif with a graphic-novel-style figure. With the colours on the dial being different for each model Swatch produced, each piece was thus unique. Consequently, of course, this is now one of the most expensive Swatches to purchase, having an average resale value (if you’re lucky enough to find one, that is) around the $22,500 mark.
2. Keith Haring (1986)
One of Swatch’s original collaborations, and one of its most special – their joint effort with renowned pop artist Keith Haring back in 1986 – was in celebration of Haring’s New York Pop Shop. Haring’s uncanny ability to provide a social commentary through street art made him world famous, and crossed over to his watch designs. Swatch announced a new collaboration with Haring earlier this year: the Mickey Mouse X Keith Haring collection; inspired by the artist’s long-time passion for Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
Love pop art? Browse our curation of poppin’ pop art here.
3. Oigol Oro (1988)
At the height of minimalism and conceptual art in the 1970s, Italian artist Mimmo Paladino was a forerunner in the revival of painting during the decade. His work with Swatch resulted in the design Oigol Oro, produced in 1988. Only 140 pieces were made, all of which were numbered on the back and many given to Swatch employees and VIP clients of Swatch – of which, rumour has it, the Dalai Lama and Sting made the list.
4. Alfred Hofkunst (1991)
“One More Time” was made as part of the “Swatchables” series by Austrian artist Alfred Hofkunst. The three watches that form the collection were a fun and playful take on a chilli, a cucumber and bacon and eggs. While there were 9,999 of these watches circulating the Swatch market, they were available to purchase from particular high-end food shops only. A positive and striking marketing move, perhaps, but it takes a certain style to pull off wearing a watch resembling stripy bacon…
Click here to check out our curation brimming full of tasty-looking artworks. Maybe get a snack beforehand – it’s sure to make you hungry!
5. Vivienne Westwood (1992 & 1993)
The 1990s was a prime era for fashion legend Vivienne Westwood. Her modern punk and new wave-inspired approach to design stormed into the mainstream, leaving an irreplaceable imprint in British fashion and further afield. Swatch had two opportunities to work with Westwood: the “Orb”, known for its regal looking watch design and packaging, and in 1993, she released “Putti”, a part of the POP Swatch series that draws on a similar colour palette and form of a Renaissance painting.
6. David LaChapelle x Amanda Lepore: 2000
The Spring Summer collection of 2000 saw a reflection in the changing times within Swatch design. Fashion photographer Dave LaChapelle, and performance artist Amanda Lepore joined Swatch to produce the Time Tranny (GZ163), an edition of the Swatch that actively set out to own discriminative terms known to be used against the LGBTQ community.
7. Kid Robot: 2011
Vinyl art toy specialist Kidrobot teamed up with Swatch on a special eight-watch collection almost ten years ago exactly. The company’s classic Dunny character took eight different forms, as realised by artists who specialise in kid’s illustrations and toys, such as Frank Kozik, Tara McPherson and Joe Ledbetter. Rather than the traditional casing, each Gent (watch) came with a corresponding Dunny.
Explore art perfect for kids and the inner child within us all here.
8. Mika (2013)
Swatch and Beirut-born post-modern pop star Mika both turned thirty in 2013. To celebrate each other’s milestones, as well as the creative diversity to be found around the world, Mika’s Swatch Art Specials began with a story, developing into two different designs. Both designs depict the watch as a totemic object, which Mika imagined appearing on an unknown planet. At first, the inhabitants are puzzled, and then terrified of the alien object. They come to worship the totem, but when it fails to give them what they want, they chop it down. All that remains of the totem pole thereafter is the watch itself.
Discover art that honours the creative and often emotive symbiotic relationship between the visual and the musical in our new curation by clicking here.
9. Damien Hirst: 2018
Mickey Mouse turned 90 in November, 2018. As a toast to the world’s favourite mouse, Swatch and contemporary artist Damien Hirst joined forces on a two-watch set. Just 1,999 copies of the ‘Spot Mickey’ design were created, which sets a black, red, and yellow background against his own signature colours. ‘Mirror Spot Mickey’ took a more abstracted approach to the figure by creating a portrait with varying circles.
10. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): 2021
Swatch’s collaborations are just as much on the pulse of cultural relevance as they were nearly thirty years ago. In February this year, the company announced the release of six special edition Swatch watches in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The designs showcase some of the finest artworks from the museum, in line with their consistent strive to make art accessible to everyone. This edition includes The Dream (1910) by Henri Rosseau, The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh and Hope, II (1907-1908) by Gustav Klimt.
Click here to make your own bespoke Swatch from Jodie Freeman’s artwork, Nations of Australia. You can also celebrate the unique identity of the oldest art traditions in the world with artworks by Indigenous artists and art centres on Bluethumb.