April 22, 2023
Avant-garde Swiss brand Hublot is no stranger to partnerships in the world of modern art, collaborating with some of the most famous artists on earth including sculptor Richard Orlinski, multimedia artist Takashi Murakami, and graphic artist Shepard Fairey. Of all its ongoing art partnerships, however, perhaps the most consistently striking is the collection built in partnership with world-renowned tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Buchi. Since 2016, Hublot has worked with Plescia-Buchi to develop the intricate, geometric Sang Bleu series, and for its latest iteration, the Sang Bleu line leaves the core Big Bang case design behind in favor of a more intricate, ornate tonneau shape. The new limited-edition Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu series offers the Sang Bleu’s most extreme, unified style to date, with a sharply futuristic, planar take on the Spirit of Big Bang silhouette and a truly dazzling array of finishes and details.
At a substantial 42mm-wide and 15.7mm-thick, the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu’s ornately faceted tonneau case design should be anything but demure on the wrist. Available in titanium, All Black ceramic, the brand’s proprietary King Gold alloy, or diamond pave-encrusted titanium or King Gold, this new case radically reshapes the base Spirit of Big Bang design into something far sharper and more intricate. The vaguely ellipsoid bezel continues visually all the way to the tips of the integrated lugs, radically reshaping the watch’s perceived silhouette in images while offering Hublot a canvas for a mix of sharply brushed surfaces and V-shaped polished accents. Although the main case body should be more familiar to fans of the brand with its recessed black central segments and arcing side profile, the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu gives these elements a hyper-angular facelift in images. For example, the upper surface of the main case is divided into eight segmented facets, each separated by deep grooves. The complex sculpted chronograph pushers echo this faceting, while resorting to rubberized outer surfaces for grippy operation. Even the sapphire crystal continues the faceted look, with four angled planar facets surrounded by a similarly faceted bevel. Taken as a whole, this geometric design is arguably the most unified and complete design in the Sang Bleu family to date, with a more refined and bolder execution than its predecessors. Despite the shock-and-awe approach to case design, the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is still a respectably capable sports watch, with a water resistance rating of 100 meters.
Although the case design of the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu series takes the core aesthetic further than its predecessors, the skeleton dial designs of the series cleave far closer to what has come before. Like previous Sang Bleu iterations, the dial design is dominated in images by the unique semi-skeletonized diamond-shaped handset, with massive symmetrical counterweights. Although this is certainly striking and fits the mandala-inspired artwork of Plescia-Buchi well, it also leads to dramatic legibility shortcomings in images, particularly if one is not familiar with the handset layout. Much of the rest of the dial layout is designed to work around the constraints of these unorthodox hands, including the double-ended 3 o’clock chronograph minutes hand, which corresponds to a double scale that sits unobstructed by the broad bases of the central handset. The sapphire base dial layer and floating hours ring, however, give the dial layout an open, technical feel, with plenty of negative space to showcase the stark modern finishing of the movement within.
Hublot powers the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu series with the Zenith El Primero-based HUB4700 skeletonized automatic chronograph movement. While it may not have the cache of a fully in-house design, the HUB4700’s smooth high-frequency 36,000 bph beat rate and 50-hour power reserve should help to make it a respectable performer. The HUB4700’s finishing is clean and ultra-modern, with an eclectic mix of brushed, matte blasted, and black-coated parts. Around back, the view of the movement is overshadowed by the ornate skeleton rotor, which continues the central geometric mandala theme through a web of narrow brushed and black-coated components. To complete the design, Hublot pairs each model in the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu series with a relatively restrained integrated black rubber strap. It’s a strap choice that stays true to the stylistic heart of the brand, but also a wise selection as a case-matching bracelet would likely prove visually overwhelming in this style.
As the latest iteration of the brand’s long-running Sang Bleu family, the new limited edition Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu line offers the brand’s most daring, complete execution of Maxime Plescia-Buchi’s visual style to date, and while the extreme styling may not be for everyone it’s a truly impressive piece of horological spectacle. The Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu series is available now through authorized dealers and is limited to 200 units for All Black ceramic examples, 200 units for titanium-cased examples, and 100 units for models in King Gold (interestingly, Hublot does not specify an exact edition size for either of the diamond-set variants). MSRP for the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu line ranges from $28,300 USD for the titanium-cased model to $70,400 USD for the diamond-set King Gold variant. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.