Art Basel Miami was an overload of eye candy this year. The annual event is a magnet to the art world’s global power players. It’s an opportunity for artists to mix with collectors, and the parties are relentless. Which means that sometimes it takes a bold statement to stand out in the crowd—like Brazilian painter Romero Britto’s pop art-inspired Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto.
Britto was spotted wearing his signature timepiece at DuJour’s Art Basel Miami Beach Kickoff Party at the Delano hotel. For many enthusiasts, watches are miniature mechanical masterpieces. Cases, dials, designs and finishes can be as crucial as the function of a timepiece. The Classic Fusion Enamel Britto provides a living, ticking link between the artisanal aspect of watch making and contemporary art. In this instance, Britto’s colorful cubism has been translated onto the dial of a Classic Grand Fusion with a technique called “grand feu” enameling.
Here’s how it was created: The lines of Britto’s original image were scaled down and a master enamellist reproduced the lines by stamping them on the dial in white gold. These sections were filled with richly colored vitreous enamel, which is then fused to the dial in a process called champlevé. The technique is as old as the hills, but Hublot has made it modern by marrying it with Britto’s contemporary sensibility.
It’s a tricky process but well worth it. While the watch looks great in pictures, it’s only when you see it in person that you can experience the glory of the process. The colors look lit from within. The dial has depth. And the way the light plays across the enameling makes the composition feel almost kinetic.
The Classic Fusion sans enameling is still a masterwork. This limited edition watchis available in both black ceramic and platinum. The elegant, 2.9mm case houses a hand-assembled Classico HUB1302 movement. The hands of the hours, minutes and small seconds at 7 o’clock play nicely with the black lines of Britto’s dial design, and the whole piece hangs from a shiny black alligator and rubber strap.
Finally, there’s an aspect of performance art to Britto’s appearance. Now based in Miami, the Brazilian is the unofficial ambassador of the fair, popping up at almost every event, but always with his namesake timepiece strapped to his wrist.