For the second year in a row, the historic Swiss watch manufacturer Breguet partnered with the Frieze International Art Fair to create a series of exhibitions that explore the intersection between watchmaking and art. This second edition of the partnership consisted of a series of exhibitions put together by the Seoul/Paris-based independent curator Somi Sim, which kicked off last year in May 2023 with “Orbital Time” in New York. Unfolding over the course of “Streaming Time” in Seoul, and “Resisting Time” in London, the fourth and final installment was just held in Los Angeles this past weekend for the brand’s “Inhabiting Time” exhibition.

Frieze Los Angeles is a major event for the West Coast art world, and Breguet’s ongoing involvement with Frieze aims to showcase the multifaceted art of watchmaking. With each fair season, Breguet teams up with an artistic collaborator and gives them complete creative freedom to realize their vision through a series of exhibitions that take place at Frieze’s art fairs around the globe. For its debut partnership with Frieze in 2022, Breguet commissioned the Argentinian-born, UK-based artist Pablo Bronstein to produce unique wallpapers inspired by the world of Breguet, which you can see in our coverage of last year’s Bregeut x Frieze Los Angeles event. Now, for the second year of its collaboration with Frieze, Breguet appointed curator Somi Sim to put together four distinct displays, and after visiting Breguet’s workshop and museum, Sim found inspiration in the concept of how we perceive time. 

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As the concluding installment in the year-long series of exhibitions, “Inhabiting Time” brought together two artworks that explore space and time through the lens of architecture. Projected on the wall of Breguet’s exhibition space was the 1973 video work “Clockshower” by the American artist Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978), in which he clumps up a New York City clock tower to shower, shave, and brush his teeth. The other artwork was “Los Angeles and Time Pieces” by the Beijing-based People’s Architecture Office (PAO), and it was a large sculpture assembled from clear, silver, and gold inflatable forms, which occupied roughly a quarter of Breguet’s exhibition space and extended onto a wall on the opposite side of the room. Intended to represent the multi-layered experience of time through a spatial structure, the inflatable shapes that formed “Los Angeles and Time Pieces” were oriented in such a manner that they would reflect the images of Matta-Clark’s video, and the structure was large enough for visitors to walk though and experience in a dynamic and interactive manner.

“The curatorial concept, Inhabiting Time, will explore our interconnected relationship with time through the prism of architecture. Space could be understood as unfolding our ways of living through time architecturally. The two artists chosen for our concluding presentation in Los Angeles – Gordon Matta-Clark and People’s Architecture Office – offer us an opportunity to reflect on the ways that we physically and sensorially move through life, providing a multi-dimensional approach to my question ‘how do we inhabit time?’” — Somi Sim, Curator of “Inhabiting Time” 

In addition to the two artworks that were prominently displayed inside the space, the Breguet x Frieze Los Angeles “Inhabiting Time” exhibition also featured one of the brand’s watchmakers on-site to showcase the intricate mechanisms that power Breguet’s timepieces. Similar to last year, the exhibition included a guilloché station where attendees could learn more about this traditional form of decorative art, and even try their hand at using an old-school rose engine to engrave the mesmerizing patterns of intersecting lines that frequently adorn the dials of Breguet watches. Just as you would expect, Breguet had numerous different models from its current collection on display as part of its “Inhabiting Time” exhibition, and the brand even dipped into its museum archives to bring out the Breguet No. 2795 perpetual calendar minute-repeater pocket watch from 1932 for Frieze Los Angeles. 

Anyone with a passion for watches would likely agree that watchmaking is an art, and while engravings, polishing, and enamel work are all obviously traditional artisanal crafts, even the fundamental concept of measuring time can be seen as a form of art. Additionally, once you get to the highest levels of watchmaking such as those occupied by Breguet, you’d be hard-pressed to find one aspect of its watches that couldn’t be seen as art, and that statement applies to everything from the architecture of its movements to the hand-finishing on their individual components. Watches are inherently functional items, but they can often serve as platforms for us to explore other related interests such as history or mechanical engineering, and Breguet’s partnership with Frieze allows people to experience the world of the brand and its history of watchmaking through the lens of art. For more information on Breguet watches, please visit the brand’s website.

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