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Turning back time – Jaipur Watch Company designs watches inscribed with Raja Ravi Varma’s painting

Collaborating with the Kilimanoor Palace Art Trust, the indigenous watch brand Jaipur Watch Company has crafted a series of 14 limited-edition wrist watches with dials featuring digital prints of Ravi Varma’s iconic artworks.

The Rajasthani brand is known for embellishing Indic designs on the wrist: from pre-Independence coins, to pichwai paintings to filigree art from Odisha. This time, the watchmaker has teamed up with the Royal Palace of Kilamanoor, the birthplace of Raja Ravi Varma in Kerala, to pay an ode to the artist.

The company’s in-house designers converted 14 oleographs of his artwork into 40mm round dial watches, featuring the precision of Miyota Citizen 9015 machinery and the durability of 316L stainless steel straps.

This unique blend of two Indian brand is a delightful surprise for both collectors and art enthusiasts. According to the owners, the challenge was to inscribe rectangular painting into circular dial, some watches could not accommodate vertical paintings for it might be cropped from the of corneers.

It took 7 months to craft the timeless collection. The final collection of 112 watches is governed by an automatic movement, and features a sapphire case and corresponding sapphire stone on the crown.

It’s no surprise that Indian art is taking centre stage, especially as with local pride at an all-time high, for artists across eras. Across product ranges, artists are coming together with brands to bring a different sensibility to their product range.

In the past Thukral and Tagra have collaborated with Rado. However, this is the first time two Indian names in art and watchmaking have collaborated. Natasha Jeyasingh, an art consultant and founder of Carpe Art notes that international brands are known to this, citing the Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama to name the most well-known, thanks to the Japanese artist’s signature distinctive polka dots.

Ravi Varma, also has a unique style that saw him paint Indian subjects with European oil-painting technique, was also someone who democratized art, having set up a printing press and making copies of calendars that made use of his art. This new collaboration then, is in some ways part of the ethos of the artist. While he gained a certain degree of prominence in his life, it has been in the last three decades that the art world has exploded.

Rama Varma Thampuran,  head of the Kilimanoor Palace Art Trust is a sixth-generation painter & descendant of Raja Ravi Varma painter who is of the view that it is an ingenious way to democratize the painter’s art, drawing parallels with his experience with the printing press. Through merchandise one can memorise the timelessness painting day in and out.

Earlier fashion designer Gaurang Shah  also had 33 paintings by the artist woven into saris. The hand-woven textiles used 600 shades of dye and were executed as a Jamdhani weave – with no embellishment added. 

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