Two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of joining Audemars Piguet on a once in a lifetime trip that included a visit to the AP Manufacture in Le Brassus —which you can read about it here— and Art Basel 2018 in Switzerland. For those of you not quite familiar with Art Basel, this is one of the most renowned art fairs in the world with three shows staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. Even as excited as we were about visiting Art Basel in its home city, there was a strange eerie feeling about being there when Baselworld wasn't taking place. It was almost like a 'déjà vu' without the usual crowds, the watch brands and the media people.
But of course, just like at any other Art Basel, Audemars Piguet was there to fill the air with its magic from Le Brassus, their spectacular booth at the Collector's Lounge, their very special energy and their Royal Oak wall clocks on display at every corner of the fair. For this edition of Art Basel, Audemars Piguet was celebrating its 4th Art Commission with a special exhibition named HALO, conceived and realized by British artist-duo Semiconductor, Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, in collaboration with guest curator Mónica Bello, head of Arts and curator at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva —you can read all about it on this other feature we published last week.
This year at Art Basel, the Audemars Piguet booth showcased the concluding design in a trilogy of lounge concepts by Chilean-born, New York-based artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz, alongside a photographic series by London-based, Italian visual artist Quayola at the Audemars Piguet Collectors Lounge. With a suspended wire mobile composed of gold plated stones and captivating photography by Quayola of the forests around the Vallée de Joux, the AP booth was filled with a magical energy and incredible aura.
At the booth, we were not only able to interact with the artists but also with watchmakers showcasing the artistry of the Florentine hammering technique behind the Royal Oak Frosted Gold, the ceramic components behind the new Royal Oak Offshore 'Combat' in 44 mm ref. 26400SO.OO.A054CA.01 and all the components for the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th anniversary including its calibre 2912.
Additionally, to make things even more interesting, Audemars Piguet hosted a Press Round Table breakfast where we had the opportunity to interact and conversate with artists Sebastian Errazuriz —who happens to not set the time on this Royal Oak Chronograph— and Quayola, who was wearing the purple Royal Oak Offshore Diver exclusively sold at the Audemars Piguet Geneva Boutique. Coincidentally, that same day it was Monsieur Olivier Audemars' birthday —who was double wristing with his Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie and a gorgeous Jules Audemars Openworked Equation of Time— which we celebrated with a decadent chocolate cake from Swiss staple confectionery Sprüngli. All in all, an incredible experience at Art Basel.
And just as it is customary at WCL, watch spotting was yet another favorite pastime at Art Basel. From several Royal Oaks Extra-Thin ref. 15202 in stainless steel and 18K rose gold to black ceramic Royal Oaks Quantième Perpétuel, there was also a little bit of everything else on the wrists of the attendees.
To celebrate the debut of this 4th Audemars Piguet Art Commission, AP hosted a press conference and cocktail party that we were delighted to attend. Wonderful tunes, a little bit of molecular gastronomy and endless cocktails were some of the highlights of a memorable night in the company of Miss Jasmine Audemars and Olivier Audemars. Yet another highlight of the night was the incredible performance art presented mid cocktail setting a perfect tone and mood to welcome everyone at the HALO by Semiconductor special exhibition.
With the main halls of Basel's Messeplatz filled with art installations and art galleries instead of the usual gigantic booths that are built every year by the watch brands, the artwork that was being exhibited was colorful, creative, introspective and very captivating.
As usual, when it comes to Audemars Piguet, no corners were cut and we had the time of our lives while visiting the manufacture in Le Brassus and Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland. And without a doubt, one of the highlights of our time at Art Basel was spending brief moments in the presence of Miss Jasmine Audemars and our candid interview with Monsieur Olivier Audemars —to be published very soon— at the AP Collector's Lounge booth.
When you've been a watch collector for more than 27 years and a watch journalist for more than five, a press interview of one of the descendants of the only Swiss watch brand that's still in the hands of its founding families, it is not necessarily your usual 'somewhat boring' over structured press interview but more of a casual and flowy conversation. Please stay tuned for this very interesting and elevated conversation with Monsieur Olivier Audemars.
Once again, special thanks to Audemars Piguet for bringing us over on this very special journey and for letting us peek deeper inside the Vallée de Joux. W really enjoyed being part of Art Basel with you and we look forward to join you at Art Basel Miami and Hong Kong.