Swatch brings Jean-Michel Basquiat’s masterpieces to wrists

16 januari 2024

The Swatch Art Journey draws on the New York artist’s iconic paintings from the early 1980s.

May marks the release of the fifth capsule collection of the Swatch Art Journey 2023 and embodies Swatch’s love for trailblazing artists.

The Swatch x JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT Collection is a vibrant tribute to the iconic New York artist who dared to break the boundaries of conventional art and help make street art sub-culture a critically embraced art form.

For the campaign shoot of the collection, Swatch connected Basquiat’s art with today’s global skate and BMX culture. Swatch Proteam athletes, free-flowing pro skateboarder and world champion Andy Anderson and nine-time BMX world champion Matthias Dandois show the synergy between art and sport as they hit the streets wearing watches from the collection.


Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the best-known artists of his generation and is widely considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His career in art spanned the late 1970s through the 1980s until his death in 1988, at the age of 27. Basquiat works are edgy and raw, and through a bold sense of color and composition, he maintains a fine balance between seemingly contradictory forces such as control and spontaneity, menace and wit, urban imagery and primitivism. The Basquiat brand embodies the values and aspirations of young,international urban culture. Basquiat often incorporated words into his paintings. Before his career as a painter began, he produced punk-inspired postcards for sale on the street, and become known for the political–poetical graffiti under the name of SAMO. The conjunction of various media is an integral element of Basquiat’s art. His paintings are typically covered with text and codes of all kinds: words, letters, numerals, pictograms, logos, map symbols, diagrams and more, and featured multi-panel paintings and individual canvases with exposed stretcher bars, the surface dense with writing, collage and imagery.

The Swatch love affair with art started in 1985 with the first of a long line of Art Special watches. Always looking for new ways to democratise the art world, Swatch joined forces with the world-famous museums to recreate some of their most powerful artworks as part of a new Museum Journey series. Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (2018) and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid (2018) were the first venues to open their doors to Swatch, swiftly followed by the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2019), MoMA in New York (2021), and Centre Pompidou in Paris (2022). The Swatch x JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT collaboration will drop worldwide on May 11th.

“We love Swatch and are so excited to see this thoughtful curation of artworks 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

HOLLYWOOD AFRICANS by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT This watch channels Basquiat’s original 1983 artwork that addresses the multiple stereotypes involving African Americans in the entertainment industry, as well as American society at large. The dial of the vivid yellow watch features the painting’s trio of figures which depicts the artist with the rap musician Rammellzee and the painter Toxic, who had traveled with him from New York. And as in all of Basquiat’s artworks, text, images, and abstract signs are combined to generate a multiplied energy.

ISHTAR by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT The 1983 artwork is named after Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility and war, and the combination of writing and Roman numerals on the painting take center stage on the black dial. The strap features different elements of the artwork, combining historical references to power with depictions of faces common to Basquiat’s work. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

(UNTITLED) by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT The artist used to “sign” his artworks in different ways. On this model’s dial is the artist’s famous three-pointed crown motif in bold black lines that stand out on the original 1982 artwork, perfectly framed by the black case, strap underside and loop. The final finishing touch is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s signature on the bottom strap. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

SWATCH x JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT TRIPTYCH Collectors can get their hands on a special Swatch x JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT TRIPTYCH presented in special boxes. These three watches feature details that differ from the other Swatch x JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT watches, including two watch loops. The top loop displays the crown while the bottom loop details the artist’s name. Other differences to the main capsule collection include the color of the seconds hand: gold-colored for (UNTITLED) by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, yellow for ISHTAR by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT and neon pink for HOLLYWOOD AFRICANS by JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Partnership done in collaboration with Artestar, a global licensing agency and creative consultancy representing high-profile artists, photographers, designers and creatives.