Breguet Connects the Dots between Art and Time at Frieze New York

The migration of watch brand ambassadorships toward athletes, artists, movie stars, chefs and other celebrities has been a trend for the past few years, dovetailing with the sponsorship of sporting events, like F1 car racing and football.

It’s therefore refreshing to see brands like Breguet keeping their focus on high culture, which seems more historically aligned with traditional watchmaking and tends to be more gender neutral in terms of its audience.

Breguet has partnered with the likes of Carnegie Hall, The New York Philharmonic, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and The Louvre.

Jesse Wine sculpture at Frieze 2024

More recently – beginning three years ago – Breguet has sponsored Frieze, the contemporary art show with editions in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

It may seem like an odd association at first – Frieze is an often high-concept art show, a carnivalesque free-for-all of artistic expression, and Breguet expresses the best of classic, traditional watchmaking – but CEO Lionel a Marca argues that there is   a strong connection: “If you look at what Abraham-Louis Breguet was in his era – he was a precursor, and Frieze, by emphasizing contemporary artists, shows precursors in art.

Breguet was an engineer, an astronomer and also a designer. He adapted certain techniques to horology, such as guilloché, for example. The art of Breguet is in the details, in the finishing, and the artworks at Frieze are also all about the details … an artwork is something you have to look at multiple times, and each time, you’re going to discover different things.

Breguet stand at Frieze New York 2024

That’s the link between Breguet and Frieze. When you look at a Breguet piece, you’re always going to see something new every time; it’s like a painting.”



The sponsorship also aligns with Breguet’s commitment to sponsoring cultural organizations and events rather than taking on ambassadors.

“I don’t think Breguet could associate itself with a person,” says a Marca. “We know we have elite personalities among our customers, but when you buy a Breguet piece, you’re buying it because of its past, because of its history, and you’re buying it for yourself, you’re buying a work of art. So I see no need, and I have no desire, to have somebody wear a Breguet to promote the brand. Now, of course, and it’s very nice that many famous people do wear Breguet watches.”

Stuffed poodle by Elmgreen & Dragset at Frieze 2024

Patrons at Frieze New York, held in early May, are often outlandishly dressed, and come as much for the “scene” and the Ruinart as for the art. Works can be highly conceptual: one exhibit showed a stuffed poodle (hopefully not real) perched on a rotating merry-go-round (Elmgreen & Dragset); another showed a sprawling bright blue sculpture of intertwined, seemingly melting body parts made of ceramic, steel, sand and paint (Jesse Wine); and another space showed several large murals of women in motion with hair and limbs bursting out beyond the borders of the canvas (Leyla Faye).



There was even a completely blank canvas (Richard Artschwager) just to remind us that art is about whatever we want it to be about ….

Blank canvas by Richard Artschwager at Frieze 2024

Breguet makes a solid effort to fit into this milieu by commissioning a new work each year to connect the concept of art and time in its booth space, the Lounge.

This year, it hired curator Jenn Ellis founder of the curatorial studio APSARA Studio, who brought in Singapore artist Dawn Ng to create an installation entitled “An Atlas Of Us.”  Ng’s medium is ice, which, because it melts, has an immediate connection to the temporal nature of time.

Ng creates 60-kilogram blocks of ice, infuses them with pigments, watercolors, acrylics and dyes. As they melt, the colors change and swirl and are captured digitally in fast-forward mode for the exhibit. In the end, they create “ash” or “residue” paintings: paper is soaked in the melted pigment over several weeks, creating new surfaces.

The works, according to Ng, are about “how time can be reflected by the surfaces we stand on, but also how it comes, goes, and evolves in a cyclical manner.”

‘Money is no object’ by Ricci Albenda at Frieze 2024

The other connection is money. Breguet reaches an entirely new audience at Frieze – an audience that spends millions on art. Although the fair doesn’t officially announce final transaction figures made at the fair (galleries don’t report all sales), rumors swirled that sales at Frieze in L.A., a month earlier totaled $700-million.



Frieze doesn’t disclose a full total, but does report individual sales by some of the galleries, and it sheds some light on the price points of the art on display at the New York show: Gallery Hauser & Wirth sold a painting by Ed Clark for $850,000; a painting by Henry Taylor for $750,000; a canvas artwork by Glenn Ligon for $700,000; and a bench by Jenny Holzer for $400,000; The Thaddaeus Ropac gallery sold a stainless steel artwork by Tony Cragg for €725,000; a painting by Daniel Richter for €420,000; and six works by Martha Jungwirth priced in the range of €60,000–€350,000; White Cube gallery sold a painting by Ed Clark entitled Yin and Yang for $800,000, and so on.

Not surprisingly, Breguet also reports the sale of several watches (final transactions are made later at retail), many to existing collectors, who come to experience Breguet anew in the Frieze context.

The brand’s presence at the fair adds a new dimension to the buying experience for existing customers and at the same time introduces Breguet to new customers, in a relaxed, cultured environment, right next to the Ruinart bar.

Seems like a good fit.

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