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Artists to Watch from Art Basel 2016

Three of our favorite watch brands take on the contemporary art world in Miami

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Watchmaking is an incredible skill, an art form, really. And for three Swiss watch brands, Art Basel Miami was the ideal location to celebrate their dedication to other art mediums.

The Audemars Piguet Art Commission selected Chinese artist Sun Xun for his mastery of many interdisciplinary fields and highly experimental working methods, mirroring the forward thinking and technical excellence inherent to their watchmaking. Tasked with creating one of his most ambitious projects to date, Sun Xun: Reconstruction of the Universe, Xun created a large-scale immersive installation, spanning an entire city block.  Consisting of multiple animated films projected on flat and spherical surfaces, the piece explores the Five Elements, metal, wood, fire, water, and earth, which structure the universe according to Chinese cultural tradition. Olivier Audemars, Vice Chairman of the Board of Audemars Piguet explained, “Sun Xun’s practice, blending centuries-old artistic techniques with 21st century technology, is a perfect fit for the Commission.”

Nearby, Hublot, who earlier this month, tapped street artist Tristan Eaton to create a unique portrait of the Statue of Liberty to adorn the caseback of its special-edition Classic Fusion Aerofusion “Concrete Jungle,” celebrated their collaboration with an intimate cocktail reception. Media and friends of the brand were invited to meet Eaton, view the limited edition timepiece, as well as new works by the artist, Mystic Mystic (2016) and Kiss My Assasin (2016). Of his new collaboration, Eaton said, “This is definitely the craziest collaboration I’ve ever done. The watch is a love letter to the city that made me who I am. It’s really an honor to have my art elevated to the quality of the craftsmanship that you see here on this watch. For Hublot to say my art was worthy of this is a big deal.” Later in the week, Hublot converted the Hublot Galerie, Miami Design District Boutique into an art exhibit showcasing exclusive works by artist Christopher Florentino, known professionally as “Flore”.

Tag Heuer on the other hand, used the fair to announce the appointment of artist Alec Monopoly as Art Provocateur for the brand. The artist, famous for his top hat, and face always hidden behind a bandana, was given free reign to tag the Miami Design District TAG Heuer boutique. Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Tag Heuer and President of the Watch Division of the LVMH Group said, “With Alec as Art Provocateur within my team at TAG Heuer, I would like not only to continue to reconnect the brand with the younger generation, the millennials, but also to pave the way for new areas of expression, in all domains from the products to marketing and communication to distribution…. his unconventional creativity and enthusiasm are contagious!” The next day, both the artist and Biver inaugurated the Mondrian Gallery within the lobby of the Mondrian South Beach 5* hotel, unveiling a giant wall graffitied by Alec.

Tag Heuer, Hublot, and Audemars Piguet proved that the classic craft of watchmaking can take on a new art form with unique collaborations.