A $685,000 time piece seems like it would be far removed from the rough-and-tumble world of legally dubious street art, but graffiti artist Cyril Phan, better known as Kongo, would argue otherwise. He teamed up with watchmakers Richard Mille in order to produce the RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo, and the experience was, in some ways, very similar to the experience of tagging public property. “When I first began applying colour to the watch, I felt the same tension I experienced when I was about to illegally paint a wall or sketch an outline on a train or truck,” said Kongo. “You don’t know what might happen, you wonder if you’ll be seized the first time your finger unleashes the nozzle, or the tenth, or if you’ll be able to finish your piece and take off after snapping its pic.”
The technical difficulty of painting such a small object contributed to the tension that Kongo felt. He was required to paint each individual mechanical part in the watch, some of which were barely a few millimeters in length. In addition to rendering the watch parts in vivid color, Kongo also had to make sure he didn’t apply too much paint, as this could throw off the movements of the delicate parts. The graffiti artist was used to working alone on large sections of wall, but for this tiny project he required a whole team of technical experts to back him up.
The finished piece is stunningly beautiful, a mesmerizing clash of two different worlds.