Vacheron Constantin, which has been collaborating with the Louvre in Paris since 2019, has a new affiliation with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The three-year agreement includes the brand’s financial support for a series of educational initiatives, such as a residence program for young artists. Both organizations said the contract was an initial agreement that could be expanded, and declined to specify how much money would be involved.
Max Hollein, the museum’s chief executive and director, said the initiatives would build on what had been the museum’s mission since its establishment in 1870. “The Met was originally founded with the purpose of educating New York artists and artisans,” he said, “so that they could learn and further improve their craft, drawing inspiration from the objects collected from around the world.”
Both the watch brand and the museum “are committed to the preservation of arts and knowledge through mentoring programs and other projects,” said Louis Ferla, Vacheron Constantin’s chief executive.
He also noted that the United States had been an important strategic market for the brand since it began selling there in 1811. That played a role in the brand’s desire to collaborate.
“Having a partner like the Met in a country that is extremely meaningful for us is not only about preserving arts, but it allows us to become part of the cultural fiber of the community,” he said.
Earlier this year, the brand unveiled a new program with the Louvre, called “A Masterpiece on the Wrist,” which allows clients to select a work from a museum list and have it reproduced on the dial of a bespoke watch. And last year, four Louvre treasures, including the Winged Victory of Samothrace, were featured in a métiers d’art collection.
Are watches displaying Met masterpieces next? “Yes, it’s a possibility,” Mr. Ferla said.
Artistic and cultural connections have long been a priority for Swiss watchmakers.
Since 2013, for example, Audemars Piguet has supported Art Basel fairs and promotes two art programs through its Contemporary initiative, introduced in 2012. Breguet is a sponsor of the Frieze art fairs worldwide, as well as the Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. And Hublot and Zenith have collaborated with artists such as Takashi Murakami and Felipe Pantone, respectively, on limited-edition watches.
Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Company in Milan, said the general convergence of luxury and art analyzed in the 2022 Bain luxury report was even more pronounced in the watch industry because of its emphasis on skilled handwork and recent collaborations with artists.
“For a watchmaker, supporting a museum means being conscious about sharing values, creativity, history, and spaces,” she said, adding that the connections also provided opportunities for brands to communicate with customers.
Benjamin Voyer, a professor of behavioral science at the ESCP Business School in London, voiced a similar opinion: “Luxury and the arts are both appreciated by wealthy consumers.”
Mr. Ferla acknowledged that such museum partnerships resonated with Vacheron Constantin’s clients. “This is not a financial partnership; it is not a science,” he said. “It is about learning about how we can contribute to society.”