Hublot’s Colour TheoryBy Felix Scholz
As far as watch brands go, Hublot offers something of a paradox. At a casual glance, it appears that all the noise around the brand is centred on the Big Bang. It’s a reasonable assumption, as the brand’s brash icon is something of an attention-seeker. But look at what Hublot does with the Big Bang, and you get a far greater sense of the breadth and scale of the Nyon-based brand’s skill set. Hublot’s expertise in marketing is well- known. The brand works with a positively encyclopaedic, star-studded catalogue of sports stars, musicians, visual artists and designers. These collaborative partnerships bring something special — new designs and creative interpretations that push the Big Bang in surprising, often colourful, new directions.
Exciting, surprising relationships with the likes of French visual artist Richard Orlinski and Swiss tattooist and graphic designer Maxime Plescia-Büchi have resulted in faceted, geometrically complex Big Bangs. Another meeting of minds is the new relationship between Hublot and contemporary artist Takashi Murakami. Even though there’s only been one collab watch released to date, the high-end take on flower power bodes well for the continued evolution of Hublot’s classic case shapes.
Shape, though, is only part of the formula that spells out Hublot’s success. Another crucial component is colour. All watch brands use colour on occasion — after all, there’s only so many times you can make a black, blue or white dial — but few deploy as varied a palette, and to as great an effect, as Hublot.
More is More
The easiest Hublots to hold up on a pedestal for their use of colour are the brightest. Take, for example, the brand’s gem-set rainbow pieces, which up until a few years ago only saw the titular rainbow of stones used on the bezel.
More recently, though, Hublot has thrown caution to the wind, fully setting the dials and cases of these high jewellery pieces with a dizzying array of coloured stones, offsetting them with a polychromatic leather strap. Hublot’s rainbows, in many ways, represent the ne plus ultra of the brand’s use of colour.
Hublot’s ceramic and sapphire pieces, like the Fanta-fresh Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire, announced earlier this year, offer the same sort of high intensity colour hit but manage to keep it more monochrome. That’s not to say that the overall impact is any less. Look at the Classic Fusion Orlinski Blue Ceramic, a watch that cleverly brings every element in Hublot’s arsenal into a devastatingly attractive focus. It would be easy for a blue on blue (on blue) watch to look, well, bland, but thanks to the fusion of colour, design and material, Hublot’s Orlinski escapes that trap, looking sleek, glossy and reassuringly luxurious. It also looks markedly different from other ceramic offerings in Hublot’s catalogue. That’s partly down to the Classic Fusion case, a more toned-down take on the Big Bang. Mainly, though, it’s how the ceramic has been treated — the high polish finish plays perfectly with the facets of Richard Orlinski’s design; even the dial is made from sculptural ceramic. It is watches like this that redefine what the Big Bang is and what Hublot is capable of.
This year, tattoo artist Maxime Plescia-Büchi – Sang Bleu – and Hublot also rolled out a trio of limited-edition Big Bang watches with the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Ceramic that is now available in blue, gray, and white ceramic. The first Big Bang created in collaboration with Büchi in 2016 celebrated the art of horology and tattooing in a way that was totally, beautifully and unexpectedly integrated. Hublot allowed Büchi to alter one of its most iconic elements: its bezel. The Big Bang is defined by curves, but if you look at Büchi’s graphic designs and tattoos, they are defined by straight lines. He redesigned the signature Hublot bezel to be faceted.
The latest trio of Sang Bleu Ceramic watches are 45mm in diameter with a total thickness of 16.50mm. Limited to 200 examples in each colour, the watches are powered by UNICO Manufacture self-winding chronograph that offers 72 hours of power reserve matched to a modern operating frequency of 4 Hertz.
Of course, your Hublot doesn’t have to be made from shiny ceramic to benefit from a splash of colour. The easiest way to inject some fresh energy into a watch is by changing up the strap; something that Hublot understands well. They offer a host of straps in a wide array of materials, sizes and, yes, colours.
Less is More
At this point, you might be forgiven for thinking that Hublot’s interest in colour is strictly in the realm of brash, in your face, maximalism. While that is an important part of the offering — this is the brand of the Big Bang after all — it isn’t all that Hublot is capable of achieving when it comes to colour. The design team in Nyon has their collective finger on the pulse when it comes to subtler shades too.
One of my personal favourites among Hublot’s recent batch is one that didn’t get too much attention in the initial flurry of new release write-ups, probably because it’s aimed at women and has “beige” in its name. But I think the 39mm Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Beige Ceramic is a watch that deserves a second (and third) look. Hublot’s treatment of this stereotypically bland colour is smooth, subtle, luxurious and even sexy.
If you need further proof that Hublot knows when to tone it down, look no further than the 2020 collaborative piece with Garage Italia, the Big Bang Millennial Pink. This watch is completely rendered in a soft pastel pink that was, and presumably still is, wildly popular with people of a certain age. And while Hublot has made pink watches before, this version flipped the script a little. It was conceived as a watch for both men and women, and I’d say it convincingly delivers on that promise — aside from the colour used, there’s no toning down of the traditional Big Bang design codes. It’s also an interesting piece that uses a lightweight aluminium case, which adds a powdery, airy feel to the whole ensemble. It’s quite an amazing feat that this big 42mm pink watch doesn’t feel overwhelming. I’m not sure how Hublot did it, but they did.