The 5th capsule collection of the Swatch Art Journey 2023 draws on the work of late New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to create a series of 3 street-ready watches. 

The Swatch Art Journey 2023 has seen the playful Swiss watchmaker collaborate with Roy Lichtenstein, René Margritte, Sandro Botticelli and Katsushika Hokusai, creating wearable masterpieces for the wrist. Now comes the turn of Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Basquait’s work echoes 1980’s New York City – raw, edgy and somewhat menacing. Vibrant colours, sporadic sketches and scribbled dialogue embody the values and aspirations of international urban culture. Swatch x Basquiat is a collaboration full of energy and fun that has been built upon a shared back catalogue of progressive ingenuity. 

“We love Swatch and are so excited to see this thoughtful curation translate into such fun and vibrant watch designs. This is one of those classic collaborations which really hits the mark for us.” – Jeanine Heriveaux – Basquiat estate

The first watch in the 3-piece collection is based upon Basquiat’s “Hollywood Africans”. The 1983 artwork addresses African American stereotypes in the entertainment industry and American society at large. The watch features a vivid yellow dial etched with a trio of figures – the artist with rapper Rammellzee and painter Toxic. The combination of text, colour and abstract signs spill over from the dial to the strap. 

The second artwork reinterpreted in the collection is named after the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility and war, “Ishtar”. The black dial is numbered with a combination of letters, Roman numerals and numbers in the style of the 1983 artwork. The strap is decorated with historical references to power and depictions of faces, a signature of Basquiat’s work. 

The three-pointed crown in bold black lines is an iconic mark of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. The artist’s untitled 1982 masterpiece is the inspiration for the final watch in the series. The motif is aptly framed by the black back case, strap, underside and loop. The bottom strap is tastefully finished with Basquiat’s signature, completing a watch that is unmistakably Basquiat. 

Collectors have the opportunity to acquire a Swatch x Jean-Michel Basquiat Triptych presented in a special case decorated with the artist’s work. The three editions included have differing details to those of the main line series. The differences include double watch loops, with the top loop displaying the three-pointed crown while the bottom loop is inscribed with the artist’s name, and differing second hand colours to the mainline models. 

Words by Patrick Boyle