Hublot opened a pop-up shop inside its boutique in Miami’s Design District during Art Basel with Maxime Büchi, Hublot brand ambassador and Swiss-born tattoo artist behind the famed Sang Bleu studio in London. The Sang Bleu studio operates as a tattoo parlor/retail shop with special apparel collaborations from Sang Bleu and brands like Nike, a publishing house, and an art collective. The event marked the arrival of the limited-edition Big Bang Sang Bleu timepiece Büchi designed with the brand. The 45mm watch in titanium features the signature Sang Bleu geometric graphic, which was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Featuring a hexagonal titanium bezel, a matte black dial, time displayed by the positions of three rhodium-plated octagonal-shaped discs instead of hands, and numerals created by Büchi’s typeface-design agency, SwissTypefaces SARL.
Print is a second passion for Büchi, who also creates a Sang Bleu magazine in limited quantities—each issue sells out. (Stay tuned…Büchi says he’s working on a new issue after a brief hiatus.) The Big Bang Sang Bleu is selling out even faster, with a limited quantity of 200 timepieces available at global Hublot boutiques. According to CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, the watch, which is approximately $20,000, is almost sold out and Hublot plans to collaborate with Büchi on a new rose gold edition.
“It’s a process of creation and maturity of the brand, because we have been through different levels of sponsoring, with sports in particular, and now we’re moving into more lifestyle and the arts,” Guadalupe told The Daily. “With art you can do so many things, but we saw that tattoos have become really trendy. We were seeing so many of the young guys, like the football players, with tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, but I want to wear something that could be linked to that art, so the idea came about like that. We reached out to the founder of the School of Art and Design in Switzerland [ECAL], Pierre Keller, who recommended Maxime, [and he told us], ‘This guy is one of the greatest tattoo artists in the world.’He is Swiss and we are a Swiss company, so there was a link there. We met and got a good feeling. What he was doing is very geometrical, so it really fit in well with our Big Bang watch, which is very edgy.”
The excitement over Büchi’s partnership with Hublot was palpable when select media and friends of the brand were invited to Hublot’s Design District boutique to get inked by the artist. Appointments with Büchi were by invitation only, but plenty of people dropped by to see the artist in action. Designers, fellow artists, and even a high-up from Saint Laurent stopped in. “A tattoo is one of the few things you can’t buy online these days. It’s one of the realest things you can get. It’s in no way virtual,” said Büchi over dinner at Nobu at Miami’s Eden Roc hotel. “I like the watch industry, because like a tattoo, you really have to think about why you are buying it. It’s an investment.”
If Hublot’s presence in Miami is any indication, the watch industry is staying afloat thanks to the local and international clientele. The pop-up with Büchi was one of the centerpieces of a week-long series of big events held by Hublot during Art Basel Miami. “We always try to be a bit disruptive and a bit different,” said Guadalupe. “We’re a young brand for the watch industry. We haven’t been around for 300 years like some of the more traditional brands, so we like to create watches that are different and connect to the future through youth. We call it ‘the art of fusion.'”