The Next Big Thing: A Closer Look at the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross
The latest collaboration in the “Hublot Loves Art” initiative has yielded an audacious timepiece.
Swiss brand Hublot has been collaborating with artists on watch designs for well over a decade now. The curious thing about the “Hublot Loves Art” initiative is that while it embraces pop culture, the partnerships have never been about simply chasing celebrity clout.
Take, for example, the maison’s partnership with the artistic polymath Samuel Ross. Ross may not be a household name, but for dedicated followers of fashion, the young Brit represents a new age of entrepreneurship. And with its audacious design, the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross encapsulates the energy that Ross’ generation is bringing to the world of luxury design.
What is Art?
Like many of the artists Hublot has worked with, Ross, born in 1991, is a multi-hyphenate. His resume lists him as a British menswear designer, creative director, and artist. He studied graphic design and illustration at university and went to work in commercial design after graduation. At the same time, he made experimental films and street art and launched a clothing label called 2wnt4. Ross’ creative output caught the eye of Louis Vuitton’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, who hired the young artist to work for him as a creative assistant at Off-White and Kanye West’s Yeezy.
Since then, Ross founded another fashion label, A-COLD-WALL*, and has collaborated with brands such as Off-White, Oakley, Nike, Barney’s, and now Hublot.
In 2019, Ross won the prestigious Hublot Design Prize. Then, only a year later, he was announced as an official brand ambassador, an occasion marked by the unveiling of REFORM, a sculpture designed to encapsulate 40 years of Hublot. The Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross is the first of his watch designs to hit the market.
“[Ross is] the youngest artist we have ever worked with,” said Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe in a press release. “[His] 360-degree approach is unique and intelligent, incorporating the watch, packaging, communication, and visual identity.”
What Is Time?
One characteristic that each artist Hublot collaborates with offers a new interpretation of what art is. For example, Multimedia artists Takashi Murakami and Shepard Fairey make art that can hang on a wall, but they also produce t-shirts. Meanwhile, tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Büchi, the collaborative partner behind Hublot’s popular Sang Bleu, also dabbles in typography.
“Samuel has pushed our team to work with new and innovative materials and shapes,” continued Guadalupe’s press statement. “It’s a really dynamic and fulfilling partnership.”
Hublot’s tagline is “The Art of Fusion.” And with his new eponymous Big Bang Tourbillon, Ross has combined the organic geometry of the beehive (a tribute to the signature hexagon case of the Big Bang) with a stark, industrial aesthetic via a production process that involves both traditional hand-finishing and cutting-edge machining.
And then there’s Ross’s signature use of color. As a representation of energy and optimism, bright orange is used on the strap, crown accents, the tourbillon bridge, and the lateral bumpers that protect the case. The intense hue provides a vibrant, futuristic counterpoint to the more somber grey of the satin-finished case and bezel.
The result is a timepiece that reimagines what a watch is supposed to look like in the first place. Kind of like how a pair of Yeezy’s makes you rethink what a shoe is supposed to look like.
What Does It All Mean?
The honeycomb theme is also picked up in the titanium mesh used on the case, sapphire dial, caseback, and strap. A fundamental form of nature, this shape, which can be repeated without gaps or overlapping, signifies strength. At the same time, it is durable and ergonomic, especially when combined with the openworked titanium architecture and flexible rubber strap, providing maximum comfort on the wrist.
“Our goal is to create a universe that leverages the strengths of contemporary engineering, spatial design and digital,” said Ross in the press release. “This is reflected in the focus on fine details, with striking, bold and unapologetic results.”
Ross went on to say that he sees the Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross as a wearable sculpture. However, it is also technologically very functional, driven, as it is, by the 282-component, manufacture HUB6035 calibre, which beats at 3 Hz and provides a 72-hour power reserve.
In short, the Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross is more than just a watch. It is a unique perspective on time that uses a new visual language. “We see the future of luxury as a lateral experience, offering a multigenerational access point that enables luxury to engage global audiences,” concluded Ross.
To celebrate the launch, Hublot’s 5th Ave boutique in New York City will be enveloped in Ross’s signature colors. The takeover will be repeated in Hublot stores across the globe, bringing the Samuel Ross universe to the world of horology.
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(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)