Daniel Arsham Creates Sculptural Pocket Watch with Hublot

A vintage timepiece from the future.

An artist famous for his “eroded” Future Relic works, Daniel Arsham also occupies a prominent place in popular culture thanks to his collaborations with brands from Porsche to Dior to Pokemon. Now he brings his unique style to Hublot with the Arsham Droplet, a sleek pocket watch (or pendant watch) in titanium and sapphire crystal that transforms into a desk clock.

The Arsham Droplet reflects the recurring of past-and-future found in many of Mr Arsham’s work. “The [Droplet] looks futuristic to me… like it’s been pulled from the future,” says Mr Arsham, yet “people were last carrying pocket watch a hundred years ago”.

Daniel Arsham

Initial thoughts

Having spoken to him about watches before, it is clear that Mr Arsham is a collector himself and owns watches that enthusiast would envy. This is why the Droplet is a lot more than many artist-watchmaker collaborations.

Hublot has done a variety of artist collaborations in the past that were of varying appeal to me personally. I loved the Murakami, less so the Orlinski. The Arsham Droplet is not only appealing, but it is “surprising” as himself Mr Arsham describes it.

Not only is it surprising because it’s a pocket watch in a novel shape and material, but also because “it doesn’t contain iconic elements I’ve used in the past” says Mr Arsham.

The Droplet is not merely an “eroded” wristwatch or one dressed in Arsham colours. Instead it was conceived from the ground up, and the result is a fascinating, tactile object that is simultaneously organic and technical.

It is more artwork than timepiece, which was the goal from the conception of the project. “I’m never doing just a light touch” when working with another company, explains Mr Arsham, “I want to use their capabilities for someone I couldn’t produce on my own.”

A keen eye for detail is visible across the watch and accessories, from the links of the chains (one for the pocket and the other for the neck) to the presentation box. In fact, Mr Arsham designed the presentation box, specifying the form, material, and function.

The only element of the watch that is recognisably stock is the MECA-10 movement (although the keyless works were modified to accommodate a telescopic crown), but that’s a good thing as the calibre is Hublot’s most interesting time-only movement. At the same time, the MECA-10 is large enough it looks at home in a pocket watch case.

The only aspect of the watch I would change is the rubber “bumper” around the outline of the case. Visually the jumper is a perfect fit for the watch – Mr Arsham designed it specifically for this watch – and it is also practical as it increases grip. But I feel that rubber inserts feel out of place on a high-end watch, which would be better served by an alternative like textured ceramic for instance.

A timekeeping object

A project that took three years from concept to final product, the Arsham Droplet is essentially a titanium frame containing the movement. The lower section of the case is open worked to form a bubble pattern, while the flanks are inlaid with a rubber bumper in the artist’s signature “Arsham Green” that’s been moulded with a repeating Arsham Studio emblem.

The asymmetric form of the case is entirely ergonomic according to Mr Arsham. “The shape came from how the object would sit in the hand,” he explains, emphasising the tactile quality of the watch.

The titanium case is clad with a pair of teardrop-shaped sapphire crystals on both sides. Both crystals are thick and domed, forming a key part of the tactile quality of the case. In the early stages of the project, a cover was considered for the dial but abandoned, because it “felt too fussy or technical” according to Mr Arsham, who prefers this streamlined form.

In many ways, this looks nothing like a Hublot. Mr Arsham himself points out “this the first [Hublot] that isn’t symmetrical and orthogonal”.

But the key elements of the Hublot aesthetic have been preserved, particularly on the face. “I want to keep the iconic elements of a Hublot watch,” says Mr Arsham, so the dial of the watch is typical Hublot, with the sapphire crystal secured by six “H” head screws.

Under the crystal is the MECA-10 movement, a hand-wind calibre with a ten-day power reserve. The linear, geometric bridges of the movement were inspired by Meccano, the children’s construction toy, but here they have been customised in Arsham Green, as have the hands.

The movement is largely identical to the standard version, save for the crown. Instead of a conventional crown mounted on the case, this has a telescopic crown that sits recessed, giving the case a seamless silhouette. Operation is simple: push the crown inwards and it pops out for winding and setting.

The strap attachment is Hublot’s proprietary “one-click” quick-release mechanism that allows the chain to the removed by pressing a button. Mr Arsham pointed out the “one-click” system as one of his favourite elements of the watch, because it is intuitive and allows for instant transformation of the object.

The watch is delivered with two chains in polished titanium. A longer one that transforms the Arsham Droplet into a pendant watch, and a short one with a carabiner at the end that allows it to be worn like a traditional pocket watch.

Freed from its chains, the watch transforms into a desk clock. The “one-click” mechanism on the case locks onto a socket on a titanium base with a decorative glass orb in Arsham Green.

A vertical glass magnifying lens sits on the base in front of the watch, enlarging the dial for desktop display.

Reflecting Mr Arsham’s attention to detail, he also designed the box for the Arsham Droplet. It’s a sandblasted aluminium case that contains the watch as well as the twin chains and desk stand.

Key facts and price

Hublot Arsham Droplet 
Ref. 916.NX.5202.NK

Diameter: 73.2 mm by 52.6 mm
Height: 22.5 mm
Material: Titanium with green rubber “bumpers”
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: MECA-10
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Manual-wind
Power reserve: Ten days

Strap: Chains for neck or pocket, and glass desk stand

Limited edition: 99 pieces
Available in Hublot boutiques and retailers
Price: US$88,000

For more information, visit Hublot.com.


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