Among the most baffling, amusing and, I think, sensational watches of BaselWorld 2019 ranks the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II. It’s a typical Hublot in the sense that it is another love-it-or-hate-it piece that is both hilariously over-designed and fantastically awesome — something that I both would rarely want to be seen wearing and yet would want to wear for at least a few months. One thing is for sure, though, in all this uncertainty: I love this thing, and I especially love that it exists.
Since the Sang Bleu’s second installment makes a rather profound first visual impression, allow me to set off on a theoretical note, followed by the more practical and technical aspects in a bit. If I were alone with what I’m about to say, I wouldn’t bother, but since I’ve seen many of my fellow watch enthusiasts display the same tendencies in watch taste, I’ll go ahead with it. In recent years, in my limited personal experience, I found that the WIS (watch idiot savants) of the Internet have become notably and consistently less angry/frustrated/ape when being presented a new over-the-top watch. Surprisingly, this tendency also seems to have begun relieving the ice-breaker motherships of this genre: brands like Hublot, Richard Mille, Jacob & Co., and others seem to get considerably less hate these days than two or three years ago. I think the reason for this development is that more and more of us hardcore watch nerds are getting bored with regular watches. (I’ll come back to this topic in another article dedicated to another BaselWorld 2019 release.) I don’t know about you, personally, but I do know that to be true for myself.
At this point, I am years beyond getting mad at brands who step out of their groove in search of a more exciting product. One exception, though, is that I do factor in how said product is officially presented by its manufacturer. Because we are by nature (as well as modern cosmopolitan life) wired to be mad about something all the time, I, in turn, find myself getting mad at brands who do nothing exciting at all. I am thinking about all those once-great companies that have taken a head-first dive into their archives and haven’t returned since, as far as their more affordable products are concerned. (Just look at Jaeger-LeCoultre, Tudor or Montblanc; and I am still hoping that TAG Heuer won’t become a fully fledged member of this group of lazy and/or direction-lacking brands.)
Before anyone reaches for their Zippo and torch, let me say this — and then you can light up if you still want to — I would love to see vintage and vintage-inspired watches co-exist with modern creations in historic brands so that these desirable companies could cater to every customer. But I think at least some of you will agree with me when I say that, yes, watches like this Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Chronograph bring a healthy dose of unrestrained creativity and modernity to the stale, regurgitative blue-dialed misery that so many of the big brands are turning into.
All this suffices for me to say that I like this watch — but a closer look at it reveals spectacular and entertaining details. First, that dial. Actually, the dial is just a 12-hour ring, two basic sub-dials, and a 60-minute ring around the periphery. The hands, though, make the Sang Bleu’s “face” into what it is — a nightmare for some, a spectacular design for others. The excessive fascination with lines and rhombs is obvious — but I do find some logic in the apparently deliberate chaos.
As I was handed one of the two versions of the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Chronograph, I routinely started setting its main hands to the 10:10 mark — both for photography purposes and to see what a traditionally clear-cut configuration looks like on it. I was pleased to see that the hands, when set to 10:10 line up perfectly. The stubby hour hand and the larger minute hand have their geometrics designed in a way so that they perfectly overlap, introducing a temporary order of relief to the dial.
As can be expected from a luxury watch, the Sang Bleu II Chronograph shows a different face with every tiny variation in light or wrist movement. It can easily be held in a way so that the shiny frames of the main hands remain dark and barely visible, leaving just the large, white-filled areas of the hour and minute hands to show up. As such, legibility really isn’t too bad, as much as that might annoy angry purists. I have seen Rolex Day-Dates with worse legibility than this, I can tell you that.