Swatch has always collaborated with other designers and artistic visionaries to produce interesting watches. Perhaps the most famous example is MoonSwatch made in partnership with Omega. However, today we’re looking at one that isn’t a collaboration with another watchmaker, but rather an artist in the form of the Swatch x Jean-Michel Basquiat Art Journey Collection.
Basquiat is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, promoting an urban, edgy and raw aesthetic through vibrant paintings and graffiti. What’s all the more impressive is the lasting impact of his work considering that he died at just 27 years of age. The Swatch collection is inspired by a trio of Basquiat’s most colourful and striking paintings.
Hollywood Africans has a bright yellow dial based on the 1983 artwork of the same name. It addresses African American stereotypes in the film industry and features illustrations of three figures that represent Basquiat, rapper Rammellzee and painter Toxic, two of his close friends. In keeping with the style of the art, the strap, dial and case all feature sections of text, pictograms and abstract signs.
The second piece in the collection is Ishtar, a blue-green watch with a black dial. The inspiration of this artwork is the eponymous Mesopotamian goddess of fertility and war and reflects the themes of finding new ways to interpret historical reference for a modern, urban environment. Interestingly, the most iconic part of the art, the large face, is found on the watch’s strap instead of the dial.
Lastly, we have (Untitled), the most sombre of the three with a black case, pale beige dial and matching brown strap. The focal point of the design is a three-pointed crown, which is one of the many signatures Basquiat used on his work. The background for the crown consists of a series of notes and annotations.
The watches are available individually or as a triptych collection with a special display case. However, personally I find it more fitting with the theme of Basquiat’s work to avoid keeping them protected in display and to instead wear them, allowing them to breathe as part of your self-expression. In which case, you’ll probably want to know the specs of the watches. Well, they’re 41mm in diameter made from plastic with a silicone rubber strap and housing a quartz movement.
Sure, it’s not exactly luxury watchmaking but it’s wearable, comfortable and cool, what more could you want from an accessible artistic collab? Speaking of accessibility, the individual watches are each priced at £91 with the commemorative set costing £320. Picking a favourite almost seems irrelevant here as they’re so different but I think I’d lean towards Hollywood Africans because I like that it includes a self-portrait.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Swatch Art Journey Hollywood Africans, Ishtar and Untitled by Jean Michel Basquiat
Ref: SUOZ354 (Hollywood Africans), SUOZ354 (Ishtar), SUOZ355 (Untitled)
- Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 9.85mm thickness, plastic case, Jean Michel Basquiat’s artwork; Hollywood Africans, Untiitled or Ishtar inspired dial
- Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
- Movement: Quartz
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
- Strap: Silicone rubber
- Price/availability: £91 each or £320 (Swatch x Jean-Michel Basquiat Triptych special set)
More details at Swatch.
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