Flower Power: Hublot Unveils A Glittering Collaboration With Takashi Murakami
The Swiss watchmakers and the Japanese artist take their emblematic designs to a starry new level with the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black.
There are just some things we didn’t know we needed until they suddenly exist. And the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black is one of those objects. We don’t even have to wear it to appreciate the fact that it exists.
It is more than just a visual delight (although with its polished and satin-finished surfaces and its bewitching black diamonds, it is quite nice to look at). It is also a concept. It looks like the signature case of the Classic Fusion and Murakami’s iconic Happy Flower ran full tilt at each other, collided, and melded into something even more powerful.
In short, this piece is a pure example of art for art’s sake.
The Artist is Present
Hublot has partnered with many artists over the years. Richard Orlinski, Tristan Eaton, Maxime Plescia-Büchi, Romero Britto, and Chen Man are a few who spring to mind. But Takashi Murakami is probably the most prominent.
One of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from postwar Asia, Murakami has been called “the Warhol of Japan” because of his synthesis of contemporary pop culture and fine art. Blurring the line between high and low art, collaborating with other brands is part of his practice.
Murakami’s most famous mashup was the Marc Jacobs-era Cherry Blossom bag for Louis Vuitton, but collabs with Crocs and Uniqlo are just as collectible.
This collaboration with Hublot is also not Murakami’s first horological project: In 2013 he teamed up with independent Japanese watchmaker Hajime Asaoka for a one-off timepiece called Death Takes No Bribe. On the more accessible end, there was the 2010 Takashi Murakami x G-SHOCK Frogman Red Jelly “ART DOJO” timepiece.
With these partnerships, the prolific artist seems to have many goals. One is democratizing art – the Superflat movement Murakami started includes various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture, and fine art. Another impetus is philanthropical. For example, sales from a collaboration with the artist KAWS raised funds for victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of Japan.
Murakami also worked with Damien Hirst and footballer Lionel Messi on a piece that was auctioned off at Sotheby’s to raise money for UNICEF to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children in Asia.
Murakami mostly takes on projects that fulfill his artistic curiosity. “When I visited the Hublot manufacture in Switzerland for the first time, I realized to what extent the traditional know-how, precision, futuristic technology, and craftsmanship were all intertwined in the creation of a watch,” the artist said. “Bringing my art into the creativity of these watchmakers represents a unique adventure for me.”
Art is at the heart of Hublot’s creative philosophy (hence the “The Art of Fusion” motto). But this marriage is also a celebration of technique. Both Murakami and Hublot use leading-edge multimedia materials with traditional Swiss or Japanese skills.
“Takashi Murakami is an international star, not only in contemporary art circles but also with the general public,” said Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. “He shakes up the borders between art and pop culture. It is a real privilege to see him join our team of ambassadors. We are delighted with the launch of this watch-work of art!”
First of all, the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black is a kinetic sculpture. Murakami’s smiling flower is presented in an all-black ceramic Classic Fusion case but in a wholly unique way. The flower’s smiling face sits atop the sapphire crystal while the petals, thanks to a unique ball bearing system, pivot beneath it, rotating in accordance with the wearer’s movements.
Murakami and Hublot also share a love for blackness. In 2006, the manufacture introduced the first All Black – a 44.5mm ceramic Big Bang with black hands, black dial, black hour markers, and a blacked-out date window – and called the concept “invisible visibility." The Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black takes this concept one step further by setting Murakami’s signature design with black diamonds.
In another nod to Japanese tradition, the dial is a deep black lacquer, while the black ceramic Classic Fusion case, caseback, and bezel honor Hublot’s mastery of contemporary materials. The black lined rubber strap features a black-plated stainless steel deployant buckle clasp. And even the Unico movement’s main plate and bridges are made of anthracite ruthenium, and the oscillating weight is plated with an anthracite-colored coating.
In the immortal words of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none – none more black.”
Limited to 200 models, the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black is available now. Pricing available upon request.
(All images ©TM/KK)