Renowned tattoo artist and creative director Maxime Plescia-Buchi reimagines Hublot’s Spirit of Big Bang, applying his rigorous “Sang Bleu” design codes into a piece of contemporary art that keeps time.
Tattoos and watchmaking have more in common than you might think.
Both require emotional investment, self-awareness, undeniable passion, and a bit of hopeful foresight. For Swiss artist and Hublot (hublot.com) ambassador Maxime Plescia- Buchi, patterns emerge from these types of unexpected connections. From his traditional Swiss upbringing and early involvement with hip-hop and skateboarding to his study of graphic design and typography, Plescia-Buchi’s exposure to art, music, and culture converged into the unique visual language he calls “Sang Bleu.” The concept is endlessly adaptable, consisting of typography, art direction, and tattooing, and yet highly identifiable.
“My whole life, it has been an expression of my need to make sense of all of those things that could be seen as clashing, as contradictory, where they do, in fact, complement each other,” Plescia-Buchi explains.
“Sang Bleu’’ evokes new meaning from the classist term “blue blood,” defined as a person of noble birth. The graphic punch of Sang Bleu upends that staid societal norm. Sang Bleu’s visual style and Plescia- Buschi’s surprisingly deep knowledge of watches attracted Hublot to The sleek curves of the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu Titanium provide a perfect fit for any size wrist Plescia-Buchi’s work back in 2016.
In 2023, their relationship continues to evolve. Hublot unveiled its third collaboration with Sang Bleu during April’s forward-thinking Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan. The perfect venue for a timepiece reveal, Salone del Mobile is a trade fair where wildly intellectual and futuristic design concepts are presented.
“If my best work is not my most recent at a particular given time, then I’m messing up or lacking,” Plescia-Buchi says. “Ultimately, we strive for something as timeless as possible. Still, it’s totally cool too. As we know, everything that is done belongs at a particular moment in time, and the context of the moment will have relevancy, perhaps will lose its relevance, and the relevancy will come back.”
First launched in 2014, Hublot’s Spirit of Big Bang took all of the Big Bang’s original features and reinterpreted them in an elongated barrel-shaped case. In the Sang Bleu version, the watch’s geometry is altered entirely, made of new facets and angles that produce an almost kaleidoscopic effect, both more industrial and somehow more organic than the original.
Swiss tatto artist, graphic designer, and creative director Maxime Plescia-Buchi.
"A fusion that exceeds perfection. The symbol of a collaboration that highlights the best features and unique potential of each design. In our watches and in our collaborations, one philosophy underscores the vision of everything we do: to adapt to the container while always focusing on the quality of the content.”–Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot
The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu 42MM in King Gold, Titanium, and All Black.
Like all Hublot collaborations, this watch will be produced in limited numbers. Three versions of the Spirit of Big Bang will be released: 200 in titanium, 200 in all-black ceramic, and 100 in King Gold (an exclusive alloy of mainly platinum, producing a warmer shade than traditional 18k). In addition, two versions will be set with 180 diamonds (2.4 carats) in titanium and King Gold.
“[The watch is a] reinterpretation of Hublot’s DNA, simultaneously identical yet so different,” explains Hublot CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe. “For this third collaboration, Maxime has infused it with a new spirit without changing its soul. Without losing what makes our barrel watch so distinctive, he gives it a new identity, a spatial redesign, and a more architectural dimension, revealed by the Sang Bleu geometry and symmetry.”
The 42-mm diameter case holds a skeletonized, faceted sapphire dial, revealing the HUB4700 automatic skeleton chronograph movement behind. That depth is enhanced by the disc hands, which echo the case’s geometry and share design traits with the tattoos inked by Plescia-Buchi.
“The sort of rationalization of shapes is essential for me, which is one reason why it can work,” Plescia-Buchi says. “There’s a lot of engineering and mathematics and semiotics within this small object. Of course, a watch still has a fair amount of purely aesthetic decisions. But that’s, again, for me, one way where geometry emerges from the watch.”
The case’s abstracted geometry enhances the ergonomics of the watch itself. The gentle arched curve of the case mimics the shape of the wrist, snugging it against the skin on a wrist of any size. Plescia-Buchi has considered each component of the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu deeply. Hence, the graphic concept of Sang Bleu extends across the entire watch.
“I approach the shapes I create because I’m not interested in creating something that has a narrative,” he says. “And that’s something very important that I insist on: There s no narrative, no symbolism in what I design, or if there is, it’s entirely accidental. I make it a point to remove anything that would be referential, and I couldn’t be happier with how everything in this piece turned out. Ultimately, we strive for something as timeless as possible.”
The Big Bang Sang Bleu partnership is the ideal representation of Hublot’s Art of Fusion, with both parties pushing boundaries in design, materials, and broad cultural appeal. Hublot’s long record of taking risks puts them in a category of one.
Working with Hublot since 2016, Plescia- Buchi revisits each component of the Spirit of Big Bang.
“Hublot is always ahead of the curve,” says Plescia-Buchi. “It appeared very clearly when we first met, and Hublot had already done collaborations for quite a while. Evidently, it is a sincere and deliberate effort to position watchmaking in a more general cultural context, a context of what wristwatches are designed for fashion or for art, or consumerist culture, at a specific time in space.”
The visible movement reflects the graphic Sang Bleu aesthetic.
“Our concept of the Art of Fusion is easily explained by connecting tradition with innovation. We never make watches that are just traditional. We create watches with a touch of modernity through the material or the movement,” Guadalupe says.
The kaleidoscopic imagery of Sang Bleu perfectly reflects Hublot’s willingness to bring together disparate elements to create a spectacular effect.
"My collaboration with Hublot is like constructing a house, an architectural project in itself. The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is the third wall of this shared structure. It signifies a landmark, as the house we are building now stands firmly and coherently in its own right. After having made my mark on the Big Bang, my creative process has taken on a new form. This is the new collection and the barrel shape of the Spirit of Big Bang.”–Maxime Plescia-Buchi, Sang Bleu Founder and Hublot Ambassador
“It’s constantly reinvesting in a process that was started many years ago. I am constantly working on multiple long-term projects. Some are for a few months, some for a few years, and others for over ten years. That’s why we keep this pace of creativity and innovation with the many collaborative projects at Hublot, this is how we stay ahead.”