To describe the art of Maxime Plescia-Büchi is something of an art form in itself. Commas are helpful: Plescia-Büchi’s many creative endeavors span the fields of fashion, graphic design, tattoos, typography, and by dint of his seven-year-long partnership with Hublot, watches. Of course, breadth alone does not an artist make. But under the purview of his Sang Bleu creative agency and tattoo studios, Plescia-Büchi has honed a unique design language that is eminently recognizable with its strong sense of symmetry and meticulous linework. These motifs are once again front and center with the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu, the third and latest collaboration piece between the brand and Plescia-Büchi. It’s as audacious an entry to the Sang Bleu collection as any of its predecessors and marks the latest evolution in Plescia-Büchi’s journey as both artist and watch designer. 

The Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu on the wrist of Plescia-Büchi

“It’s been a learning curve, you know?” Plescia-Büchi leans back into the couch, adjusting the brim of his cap as he gathers his thoughts. The two of us are chatting in Hublot’s boutique in Milan, one of the brand’s newer international outposts in the fashionable Quadrilatero d’Oro district. A bevy of impeccably dressed humans saunter by outside as Plescia-Büchi describes how his relationship with Hublot has developed over the last seven years. “We’ve really gotten to know each other’s boundaries,” he says with a knowing smile. “A lot of it is asking ourselves, how do we meet in the middle, and what do we want to build together?” Hublot, for its part, knows this dance well. The brand enjoys creative partnerships with a number of artists including Takashi Murakami, Richard Orlinski, Shepard Fairey, and of course, Plescia-Büchi. Whereas other brands often sandbox their watch collaborations by limiting changes to simple tweaks of the dial or overall colorway, Hublot allows their artists the freedom to fully explore all elements of the watch in the design process. The Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu radiates with Plescia-Büchi’s hallmark geometric symmetry, from the handset, the multifaceted sapphire crystal, the movement rotor, and of course, the case itself. It’s a big-picture approach to collaboration that requires a certain level of mutual understanding, and Plescia-Büchi is quick to credit Hublot. “They were the first to seriously work with artists in the cultural realm,” he points out. “But what appeals to me about our partnership is that there is always the desire and open-mindedness to try and find a way to make the ideas work.” That every Sang Bleu watch is so unmistakably identifiable as a Plescia-Büchi design speaks to the success of this artistic union.

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Hublot and Plescia-Büchi first teamed up in 2016 with the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu, an ornate three-hander that transformed the classic Big Bang silhouette into a symphony of angles with its hexagonal bezel, pattern-engraved case, and octagonal rotating discs on the dial in place of a traditional handset to tell the time. The Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II followed three years later, evolving the original’s design cues into chronograph form. This time, the newest addition to the Sang Bleu lineup adopts the tonneau shape of the Spirit of Big Bang, albeit with a more elongated contour. A series of faceted segments assert themselves to form the main case structure, with a mesmerizing and similarly-faceted sapphire crystal sitting above the dial. It’s a commanding first impression. The sheer number of edges gives the watch a truly three-dimensional presence. Hublots have never been for the meek of wrist, and the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is no different. Available in black ceramic, titanium, and Hublot’s proprietary King Gold (the latter two available in a pavé configuration set with 180 diamonds), the 42mm-wide and 15.7mm-thick case of the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu wears proudly with a pronounced, organic curvature that flows over the wrist. It’s surprisingly more comfortable than its angularity would suggest, thanks to the sharp taper of the integrated lugs as well as the accompanying soft black rubber strap. I’d venture to say that if the first two Hublot Sang Bleu watches didn’t do anything to wind your crown, it’s not likely this one will either. But more’s the pity, as the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu cuts a more mature figure than its predecessors, and the refinements here add up to a materially improved wearing experience. 

The process of reading the time for the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu remains the same as across the Sang Bleu lineup: A pair of lume-tipped triangular edges on the dial’s rotating discs mark the hour and minutes, and in the case of the chronograph, the running seconds and minutes as well. It’s a novel execution, just not the most expedient for telling the time. But to prioritize readability is to miss the point, as the Sang Bleu watches are more objet d’art than anything else. In fact, one of the things I appreciate most about these pieces is that every passing second presents the wearer with a new geometric shape on their wrist. I suppose this is technically true with any watch, but most watches aren’t imbued with an artist’s aesthetic in nearly the same way as the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu. Plescia-Büchi’s design language has long been anchored in the harmony of balanced shapes and patterns — particularly in his work as a tattoo artist, and as my right forearm can attest. And while Plescia-Büchi’s use of symmetry evokes a kind of ancient esotericism, when transposed onto the contemporary canvas of a watch, the result is a piece of postmodern sacred geometry that just so happens to keep time. 

It’s been a successful partnership for Hublot and Plescia-Büchi; the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is already their third limited-edition collection in only seven years. According to Plescia-Büchi, the formula is straightforward. “We both approach things with the same open-mindedness and vision to push towards the same goal,” he explains. “It’s not one person trying to get the other person to serve their agenda. It’s realizing that we actually have the same agenda.” This creative generosity is the very reason the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu exists: It is a watch infused with Plescia-Büchi’s aesthetic sensibilities, yet remains unapologetically Hublot at its core. It’s a balance of both brand and artist that goes beyond mere collaboration. It’s symmetry. 

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The Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is available in three limited editions: 200 pieces in titanium, 200 in black ceramic, and 100 in Hublot King Gold. Two diamond-set titanium and King Gold references are also available. Pricing is $28,300 USD for the titanium, $48,300 USD for the titanium pavé, $30,400 USD for the all-black ceramic, $50,400 USD for the King Gold, and $70,400 USD for the King Gold pavé. For more information, please visit the Hublot website.

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