The Paradoxical Knight – Painting in white with the new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White
There is a quote by Gilbert Keith Chesterton, often referred to as the ‘prince of paradox’, who was an English writer, philosopher and literary critic: “White is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.” White is an interesting colour, one that allows to act as a backdrop for any impressive artwork; but on its own it has the potential to shine as well. Hublot takes this very essence and presents a timepiece, the new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White, that’s as fierce as anything else they have done, and is as definite as most of their work.
This new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White is a paradoxical watch for me; on one hand it comes from a Maison that’s known for its burst of colours and the fusion of art into its timepieces. On the other hand it’s as plain as it can be, in a colourless white. Yet, trust the master of fusion to take something as simple as white, collaborate with tattooing genius Maxime Plescia-Büchi, and come up with a timepiece that’s not only a geometric wonderland but also doesn’t succumb to the plain white background and manages to exist as a colourful art form without the use of actual colour.
Introducing the new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White for men (and women) in Titanium and King Gold, a watch that is impressive to me not only as a watch critic but also as architect, for it’s a watch that revolves around the use of hexagons, rhombuses and triangles that create a wonderful three-dimensional study seeped in the realms of depth and geometry.
This partnership for Sang Bleu II watches between Hublot and Sang Bleu is nothing new. It has its roots in the first Sang Bleu timepiece created back in 2016. A success for the brand, they followed it up with take II, the blue version released for the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai earlier this year. Following close on its heels is this new limited edition version, this time in white.
Hublot is ever pushing the boundaries. Always keen to preserve its tradition of cutting-edge expertise, Hublot is consistently ahead of the curve, whether be through its innovations in materials — Big Bang UNICO Red Magic, or Classic Fusion Gold Crystal, or Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic — or its collaborations with industry leaders like UEFA Champions League and Maxime Plescia-Büchi. For the uninitiated, Maxime is a famous and accomplished Swiss tattoo artist and creator of the Sang Bleu agency (hence the name of the watch we are talking about today).
Hublot’s new watch is designed by Maxime and features the design elements of his agency. Anyone who has followed the work of Maxime and his design agency can attest that once you have studied the design language of the new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White, you can tell that it’s very Sang Bleu. More than a piece of art, it’s essentially a true piece of sculpture for the wrist.
Simply put, Sang Bleu II is a horological expression that is inspired by Maxime’s impressive tattoo designs and architectural style.
Decoding The Architecture Codes
Sharp corners and straight lines define this watch. It’s all about layering and strong visual connections through trapezoids, rectangles and triangles. It’s an architectural gem, where coincidently, the centre of the dial face looks like a diamond. If you come to think of it, the titanium version of this watch is like a diamond bling watch for men, but without the actual diamonds. The way the bezel meets the end links of the strap that meet the lugs, all of this creates a beautiful web of triangular geometry that seamless blends into one another. The fact that the triangle geometric shapes extend well into the strap speaks volumes of how much effort has gone into visualising this work of art. The hands and the sub-dials appear to be like arrows pointing in different directions, like navigational tools of a compass pointing to the cardinal directions.
If you do wish to tell time, the dial shows the functions of hours, minutes, seconds, date and a chronograph on a matte white skeleton dial with somewhat confusing satin-finished skeleton hands.
Breaking down the dial hands architecture, first up is the thin central seconds chronograph hand with a small white filled triangle. This chrono seconds hand pretty much covers the entirety of the dial, and once you know its there, it’s hard to miss. Next up, the hours and minutes hands. These are indicated by skeleton arrow-shaped white in-filled hands placed on kite-shaped structures. I like how when the dial reads 12, all three central hands neatly tuck into one another, the small triangle of the chrono seconds hand at top followed by the minutes triangle followed by the hour hand’s triangle.
Now for the sub-dials: at 3’o clock we find the 60-minute chronograph counter and at 9’o clock is the running seconds hand. If you look carefully there’s also the date window at 4.30 that sits confusingly synchronised on the matte white hour ring.
Moving outwards from the dial, the bezel features the iconic 6 H-shaped titanium screws and has a hexagonal decor to it as well, with polished and satin finishes adorning it, and in the King Gold version the contrasting colours of gold complement the gold hands thereby aiding the legibility.
Overall the new releases come in two versions: titanium or King Gold, and with or without stone setting. In terms of colours, both versions are white. The white appears on the dials and straps, embellishing the web of geometric lines that criss-cross the hands, bezel and case. My pick of the two would be the King Gold version, as legibility is something we at Watch Ya Gonna Do About It pay high emphasis to, and in this version the watch honestly is quite legible. The gold really pops out here, and the plated layering of the dial face is much more visually three-dimensional here as well.
The new Hublot Big Bang Bleu II White in King Gold (reference: 418.OX.2001.RX.MXM20) and in Titanium (reference: 418.NX.2001.RX.MXM20) feature the HUB1240.MXM movement. This UNICO manufacture self-winding chronograph flyback movement with column wheel comprises of 330 components, 38 jewels & beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h) allowing for an exceptional 72-hour power reserve.
It is encased inside a 45mm diameter and 16.50mm thick satin-finished and polished Titanium or King Gold case. Flip the watch and you can see the movement in all its glory through the display case-back that’s surrounded by satin-finished titanium or King gold with the engraving “LIMITED EDITION”.
Complementing the white look, both these versions come on a white and black rubber strap with a Sang Bleu design titanium or King gold deployant buckle clasp. As is usually the case, impressively both watch straps feature the One Click system, a patented attachment system that makes it easy to make bold style statements by simplifying strap changes.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Hublot and Sang Bleu have partnered — yet again and might I add successfully in my humble opinion — to create another offering of a watch that is a fusion between Hublot’s design aesthetics and Maxime Plescia-Büchi’s tattooing principles.
These pieces offer a reinterpretation of the ancestral art of tattooing, bringing it into an avant-garde culture. There is so much going on with the dial of this watch and one of the most impressive part is the integration of the dial face lines — engraved design by “Maxime Plescia-Büchi” — with that of the bezel and then with the white rubber strap.
The watch dial itself is a wonderland of mazes, created by a creative use of geometric designs that intertwine as the hands move. Its three hands make way for three open-worked discs displaying the hours, minutes, and seconds, accented by a touch of Super-LumiNova®. I am not a 100% sure on the lume bit frankly, but based on their past releases I reckon the white in-fill is luminous.
I like the watch, it’s different, and especially architecturally it’s a good play of geometries. It is pretty full on though, and you really have to take that into account. Not that any particular aspect bothers me, but if I am really nitpicking and if my OCD kicks in, there is one thing that does require mentioning: I think the sandwich-‘ears’ and the bezel should have had the same type of screws to maintain uniformity, which is even more important on a complex watch like this. Of-course if I am changing things then I would bring in a bit of colour to the tips of all the hands, so that time can be easily read.
Usually Hublot’s watches are generally large in size, and wear even larger. But the 45mm diameter of this watch fits the busy criss-cross face to perfection. Like an arrow, the central seconds hand extends across the entire dial and indicates the seconds on an outer white ring with contrasting markings in black. I do admire the way the central visual diamond design that is actually a juxtaposition of kite-shaped structures is the keeper of time, in reality hiding and revealing the hour and minute hands.
Personally I would also give it extra points just because it is not another blue watch. For reference as to why I say this please read by rant on it here.
Like I quoted in the beginning of the review, Hublot ensures that “white is not a mere absence of colour”; when combined with a plethora of geometric lines, it becomes a “shining and affirmative” timepiece that’s art for your wrist.
The Titanium version is limited to 200 pieces (retailing for 23’900 CHF) and the King Gold to only a 100 pieces (retailing for 44’900 CHF). To find out more about the new Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II White and other Hublot offerings, please head to their website here. All images are courtesy © 2018 HUBLOT – ALL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS RESERVED unless otherwise stated.