LVMH Watch Week: Hublot Introduces New Limited Editions Of The Big Bang Sang Bleu II
After pushing the envelope with geometric lines and architectural structure, Maxime Plescia-Büchi is now exploring color theory.
When Hublot first announced that it was collaborating with Maxime Plescia-Büchi, the artist and owner of the Sang Bleu tattoo studio, it was not a big surprise. At the time, Big Bang announcements were pretty commonplace. For most of these collaborations, the strategy was to adjust the color on the dial, add an image by an artist (or an athlete’s number and signature), and maybe make a new strap, all while keeping the basic Big Bang codes. The result may have been pretty to look at but not exactly earth-shattering.
When the Big Bang Sang Bleu debuted in 2017, it quickly became one of Hublot’s most successful editions to date. And Hublot has allowed Plescia-Büchi to continue to tinker with the timepiece. Most recently, with these new versions unveiled at Dubai Watch Week.
First, let’s look back at the foundations of this instant classic collaboration.
I’ll never forget the day that Hublot launched the Big Bang Sang Bleu. It is tattooed on my memory and, literally, my arm.
It’s Art Basel Miami. December 2016. Hublot is debuting a bunch of new collaborations, including a Classic Fusion designed by Romero Britto. A group of journalists and patrons are present to watch Plescia-Büchi at work and to maybe even get inked by the master, or one of his celebrity tattoo artist comrades.
At some point, I remember a voice asking if anybody wanted a tattoo. Because I am highly impressionable, I end up with B.J. Betts inking a beautiful tiger called Richard Parker on my forearm. I have no regrets.
After all, it allowed me to spend some extra time in the company of Plescia-Büchi to talk about his ideas, artists, and the Big Bang Sang Bleu.
My initial impression of the Big Bang Sang Bleu is it’s the watch version of Plescia-Büchi himself. Both the watch and the human are significant (the timepiece measures an impressive 45mm), angular, and very striking looking. A little bit punk, but also very avant-garde.
Most people still see tattoo work as either Sailor Jerry mermaids and anchors or grunge era tribal tats. It must be noted that Sang Bleu, which Plescia-Büchi founded in 2006, is not just a tattoo studio. With outposts in Zurich, London, and Los Angeles, it is also a creative agency, which has created typefaces for designer Rick Owens and inked celebrities like Kanye West.
Plescia-Büchi also edits a magazine also called Sang Bleu, is a founder of Swiss Typefaces and designs a clothing line. And, one of the hallmarks of Plescia-Büchi’s aesthetic is his love of geometrically perfect shapes. His passion for lines reflects his interest in drawing connections between materials, cultures, techniques, and technology.
The Big Bang Sang Bleu was something that felt really new. The clients at the Hublot boutique were impressed. While they weren’t willing to get a permanent souvenir of the evening, they were eager to have a piece of Plescia-Büchi’s art.
The Big Bang Sang Bleu was created in collaboration with an artist who wanted to reconstruct the watch and a watchmaker willing to start from scratch, which is a significant commitment of resources. Hublot’s investment was worth it. In Miami, in 2016, Plescia-Büchi said that he had no interest in a one-off partnership. It turns out that he was already working on the sequel.
The Big Bang Sang Bleu II, introduced in 2019, explored the angles of geometry and architecture even further.
Plescia-Büchi approached the sequel from scratch, refining the lines of the case and carving geometric designs into the hexagonal bezel and sapphire crystal. This time, the designer wanted to merge the aesthetic with the form and mechanical functionality of the watch itself. He intended to honor the codes of the Big Bang by creating a timepiece emblematic of Hublot's Art of Fusion.
While geometry was the foundation of the first Big Bang Sang Bleu and architecture informed the Big Bang Sang Bleu II, art is the inspiration for the 2020 editions.
With these new pieces, the structure becomes almost sculptural. Hublot's innovative expertise in materials is on display via its titanium or King Gold cases, which are available with or without stone setting. The hands, bezel, and case are crisscrossed with lines that emphasize the oblique silhouette of the watch.
But what really stands out is the color. These new versions add an indigo blue to the palette, just like the shade of ink used by Plescia-Büchi in his tattoo studio. This deep hue appears on the dials and straps, and it connects the watch not just to the wearer, but something almost ancient and elemental. And the Unico manufacture HUB1240 automatic chronograph movement with a 72-hour power reserve links it all back the concepts of time and timelessness.
Tattooing is, at its essence, an act of expression. The beauty of these new, blue editions is that they can weave together so many elements of both the artist's and the watchmaker's voice into one expression of breathtaking beauty.
(Images provided by Hublot)