Art Basel Miami is, quite frankly, the best time of the year to be in Miami. It’s the perfect combination of people, weather and art. With the opening of the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed Pérez Art Museum Miami and countless more events, I decided to capitalize on the chance to combine my passions for contemporary art, watches and sports cars.
My ride for the week was every young boy’s dream car: the legendary Pagani Huayra. Loaned by my friends at Pagani in Italy, this Carbon Edition is not your typical exotic sports car. With only twenty-four Huayras in the world as of press time, of which even fewer are Carbon Editions, this $1.7 million model is an extremely rare breed. Its AMG-sourced 6.0-liter, twin turbo-charged V12 engine outputs an astonishing 700hp and boasts a top speed of over 230mph. Unfortunately, this is something I was unable to test on the streets of Miami during Art Basel! However, I can say from personal experience that it is a scary fast and also exquisitely beautiful supercar. The interior is wrapped in leather, with metal knobs and dials machined and polished to perfection, and an engine sound that is a mind-soothing anodyne. The whistles of the twin turbos are pretty intoxicating as well.
Hew Locke Dinner
Art conductor hosted a VIP dinner at Soho Beach House in honor of artist Hew Locke and the Fountainhead Artist Residency, which served as the perfect kickoff to Basel this year. Guests in attendance included leaders of Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Pérez Art Museum and the Hales Gallery, as well as the founders of the Fountainhead Residency and, of course, collectors. After dinner, the party moved downstairs for the grand opening of the Soho Beach House luxury tent on the beach, steps from the water. Fit for a sultan, the tent is a fixture during Art Basel week, and in its second year has already become the stuff of legend, hosting impossible-to-attend parties for art aficionados and bon vivants.
For this event I wore a PAM317 Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante 8 days GMT Ceramica by Panerai, which is known for its nautical history. The 44mm case is simply stunning and very contemporary in matte ceramic. Featuring a white-on-black sandwich dial, it has a single-button chronograph function and a second time zone with day/night indicator. With eight days of power reserve, I knew I would not have to rewind it until Art Basel was over, and knowing what lay ahead for the rest of the week, it was best to leave nothing to chance.
Untitled Art Fair
On the itinerary the second night was the Untitled Art Fair, which was founded last year. This event had the enviable position of being the week’s first art fair to open, and one of only two art fairs physically located on the sand of Miami Beach. The fair showed great maturity, with a selection of galleries and art that the collectors I spoke to agreed were greatly improved from last year.
For such a new art fair, I decided to go with a watch from a relatively new brand: the Linde Werdelin SpidoSpeed Rose Gold DLC Titanium. The SpidoSpeed’s 44mm x 46mm case makes for a commanding presence, but still sits nicely on the wrist. The case has a contemporary look in rose gold and titanium, not unlike a Big Bang or an Offshore. The forged and hand-drilled case is one of the most impressive on the market, with little details everywhere. This being Linde Werdelin’s first chronograph watch, the brand made an effort to distinguish it from other chronographs. Note the unique placement of the chrono pushers, which are indented and protected by the case to avoid accidental triggering or damage. It’s a nice package, and this particular series is limited to 100 pieces, ensuring its rarity.
Design Miami, Marina Abramovic, Ferrari, Vanity Fair and White Cube
The third day of Art Basel is always one of the busiest. It began at Design Miami, a fair that focuses on collectible furniture. Next up, YoungArts and Visionaire presented the world premiere of the 3D film A Portrait of Marina Abramovic. The screening was held at the “Jewel Box”, a square mosaic building that used to be Bacardi’s Miami headquarters. This architectural masterpiece is now in the hands of Frank Gehry, who will be transforming it into YoungArts’ new world headquarters and campus. I have high hopes this gem will be appropriately preserved for and enjoyed by the public. Immediately after the screening, we headed to an exhibit held by Ferrari in honor of their new LaFerrari and several other cars commissioned by artists at Miami’s famed Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage 1111 Lincoln Road. Then we headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual Vanity Fair party, which this year honored Tracey Emin’s exhibit Angel Without You. Her works in neon are sexually provocative and juxtaposed with Miami’s neon history in a way that resonated on many levels. The final event of the night was the annual White Cube Gallery party at Soho Beach House. This prestigious London gallery represents an enviable roster of artists, including Tracey Emin.
For these events i wore my Girard-Perregaux WW.TC World Time Chronograph in rose gold. It’s a substantial watch that sits high on the wrist with 43mm of rose gold, and it wears even bigger. A world timer is a great watch for several reasons: it’s a complication that is easy to explain to non- watch aficionados and it’s a complication we can all actually use. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of travel, but knowing at a glance the time in cities around the world always brings a smile to my face.
PAMM Museum Ribbon Cutting, Art Basel First Choice VIP Opening, Spinello Projects, and Parties Parties Parties
The first stop we made in the Pagani on Day Four was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the new $130 million Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), which was designed by Herzog & de Meuron. It’s hard to describe how special this day was. Having been an active supporter of the Museum for over eight years and with my wife sitting on its Board of Trustees, the opening felt like a debutante ball, a culmination of Miami’s growing importance in the art world.
Later that day we headed to the Art Basel Miami Beach First Choice VIP Opening, the grand event of the week. For a contemporary art fair of such proportions, a grand contemporary watch was in order, so I wore the 46mm 18k rose gold Bulgari Papillon Chronograph. Functions include a jumping hour indicator, a chronograph central seconds hand and what Bulgari refers to as a papillion seconds hand, which has to be seen in action to be understood. All hands on the watch are in blued steel over a brown and rose gold dial. It is a beautiful piece, and one of the watches I most enjoyed wearing during the week.
Next we made our way to Spinello Projects. As one of only two Miami-based gallerists exhibiting at Art Basel, Spinello is a special talent. His artists reflect his aesthetic, which is fresh, visually striking and fun. For example, artist Agustina Woodgate exhibited an enormous tapestry made from literally hundreds of repurposed stuffed animals (some donated by my daughters no less), while the artist Sinisa Kukec showed a commanding large black orb. We took a brief repose at Soho Beach House with fresh coconut water from our friends at the Coconut Cartel, then headed off to the W magazine PAMM Party, followed by the Interview magazine OHWOW Gallery Party. We finished the night at the Chez André Pop-Up Club at the Rec Room, which was just the ticket to soothe our nerves until the next day.
Rubell Family Collection Breakfast, Pulse Art Fair Brunch
The Rubell Family Collection Breakfast has become a tradition for Art Basel Miami VIPs. Every year Jennifer Rubell, the daughter of famed collectors Mera and Don Rubell, creates a new edible art installation. In 2012, due to damage in her NYC studio from Hurricane Sandy, her breakfast installation was cancelled for the first time in eleven years. This year, I was happy to see it had returned. Faith consisted of countless sweet egg tarts on an endless seesaw.
Next up was the Pulse’s Art Fair VIP Brunch, which is a Novela family tradition. The art did not disappoint, with great pieces from Oleg Dou and Jen Stark, as well as some strange satire pieces that were, shall we say, less great. Swarovski toilet anyone?
Friday was all about Chopard. The brand had asked Art Conductor to put together a unique event for Chopard VIPs in town for Art Basel Miami. As a result, our hosts had mysteriously requested we meet at the docks of the Mandarin Oriental Miami wearing formal attire, from where we would be taken by boat to an undisclosed location on the Miami River. Our destination turned out to be the fog-filled studio of artists Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares. The warehouse was in an industrial part of town, but when the doors opened, it revealed a stunning feast fit for kings.
For this event an elegant Chopard watch was in order. For me, the Chopard Classic Manufacture Automatic in 18k rose gold. The Classic Manufacture is fully made in-house by Chopard, including the movement. The missus wore a Chopard Happy Sport Automatic, also in 18K rose gold. At 38mm for the men’s and 36mm for the women’s, these watches are classically proportioned, more akin to vintage watches and perfectly suited to a black tie event.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
And so, our week had come to an end. We closed out Basel with the granddaddy of all events, the gala for the opening of the PAMM. Although I had been to the PAMM several times that week, the Museum continued to impress. Architects Herzog & de Meuron really created a masterpiece; it works during the day with an open floor plan boasting lots of natural light, and it works at night, with brutalist-style industrial florescent lighting which could be considered an art installation in itself. Developer Jorge Pérez, who is largely responsible for Miami’s new skyline and for whom the pAMM is named, joined art collectors, Miami’s movers and shakers, and even a few celebrities at the event. A performance by Mark Anthony had everyone up and dancing. The night ended for me ended as the week had begun, at the Soho Beach House VIP tent.
For the final event of the week, something special was in order. The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time is a watch that I had had my eye on for quite some time. With a 40mm rose gold case that is only 11mm thick, it’s contemporary in size but still an appropriate black tie watch. As one of the very few watches with an equation of time complication, and the only one I am aware of for less than $35,000, it’s a watch to notice. The deviation between solar time (similar to a sundial’s time) and civil time (the time commonly shown on a watch) is shown on the dial. It also features an annual calendar complication, which means the date function only needs to be corrected once per year. And for her, the Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye Bi-Retro in pink gold with moonphase indicator.
Photography by Nicolas Stipcianos, World Red Eye, Daniel Novela, Daniel Azoulay and Alberto E. Tamargo/A.E.T. Photo. Clothing guide: Men’s blazers by Basico, bracelets by Espiritútara, and pocket squares and accessories by Noble Experiment.