Ikepod was formed as a collaboration between industrial designer Marc Newson (of the million dollar riveted Lockheed lounge chair fame) and Oliver Ike. The company went bust in 2004, barely a decade after its formation, but was then revived by Newson in partnership with Adam Lindemann, a New York art collector whose father George invented the soft contact lens and is on Forbes’ list of billionaires.
In its first incarnation Ikepod made a wide range of watches with simple complications like chronograph and dual time zone, but today its collection consists of only four models. Two of them, the Megapode and Hemipode chronographs, are carry-overs from the earlier collection. The other two are completely new models: the quartz Solaris, a double sided, oblong ceramic watch on a mesh bracelet, and the Horizon, which is reminiscent of a golf ball.
Newson’s Lockheed lounge sold for over a million dollars in May 2009 at Philips de Pury in London; it is oft repeated that result set the record for the work of a living industrial designer. Naturally, the Ikepod Horizon Jeff Koons pictured here sets some sort of record as well – it retails for about US$57,000 in platinum (and less than a third of that for the titanium version). The platinum Jeff Koons watch is limited to 10 pieces.
In an interview published in early 2008 in I.D. magazine (which can be seen here ), Newson explains his perception of the luxury watch market, which is clearly different from how collectors who frequent this forum see it. He said, “I mean, honestly, someone that goes into a watch shop and looks at one of our watches and says, ‘Oh that’s rubbish, yuck!’ I mean, forget it, I’m just not interested in that person. If they don’t have the imagination to look beyond their limited perceptions of what rubber is, or synthetic materials, there are plenty of other shitty watches they can choose from.” Touché.
This Jeff Koons watch, as well as Newson’s other watches, obviously cater to art – as opposed to watch – collectors. Elements that technical minded watch collectors like myself look for in a timepiece, like construction, finishing, materials and the like, are hard to find. But this is art .
People speak of highfalutin “art” in watchmaking and often cite Philippe Dufour, Vianney Halter or Patek Philippe et al as examples of watchmaking art; Jeff Koons throws that definition out the window. What this watch has in spades is the kind of abstract design concept that has made Mr Koons a millionaire many times over. Being a philistine, I do not dare to try and interpret the design or the mysterious multiple orbs on the dial (are those palm prints?).
However, as a person who knows a bit about watches, I can comment on it as a watch. The watch is vintage Ikepod style, an ETA movement housed in a monocoque platinum case paired with a rubber strap. The case is an impressively massive piece of platinum at 142 g and measures 44 mm wide. Being a one-piece case, the movement is accessed from the dial side. The case has a carefully applied brushed finish and is of excellent quality; overall the case and crown display a good standard of finish and construction. The dial is printed brass and nicely done. Overall the watch is well made, if not extraordinarily so.
From my perspective as someone who does a good impression of a knowledgeable watch collector, this watch does not have the typical tangible qualities like construction and finish that watch aficionados worship. I would find it difficult to buy one, and not just because of the price – I don’t understand it. I’d rather have a Marc Newson chaise longue than his watch, since the chair is a significant piece of furniture design while this watch is not significant in horology.
Selling Ikepod through watch retailers will be tough; I suspect it will be much easier to sell them in those select venues where people who buy million dollar lounge chairs and balloon-shaped art glide around. Some of those people – they are buyers of art – must surely be tittering at the poor (literally) souls who pay ridiculous sums for a watch – haven’t they heard of a mobile phone?
This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-01-01 20:51:31 This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-01-01 20:55:20 This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-01-02 21:46:37 This message has been edited by ThomasM on 2010-01-04 08:51:21