Hublot’s Big Bang series has always been slightly outrageous since its 2005 release, but intentionally so. Large, loud, and undoubtedly luxurious, there could be no better candidate for a collaboration with Maxime Plescia-Büchi. The Swiss tattooist is responsible for the sprawling platform that is Sang Bleu, covering and influencing tattoos, clothing, typography, art — both visual and performative — and much more.
Our first taste of a Hublot x Sang Bleu project was in 2016, with an intricately engraved wristwatch, covered in mesmerising geometric patterns across the dial, case, and even embossed into the leather strap.
2019’s Baselword witnessed the sequel piece, the Swiss fake Big Bang Sang Bleu II in titanium and King Gold, looking less like a modified Hublot and more like an occultist’s spaceship. Now, a new variation has been released with the same case materials, but freshening the dial with splashes of white and a complementing white rubber strap.
There’s no hiding from the visual feast that is the quality copy Big Bang Sang Bleu II. From top to bottom, its detail and artistry never stops providing something to look at. The evocative style is borrowed, understandably, from Maxime Plescia-Büchi’s tattoo designs — often focusing on the macabre, hedonistic, and occult side of life. Referring to the 45mm case as ‘design’ feels like a disservice, when it more closely resembles architecture.
The engaged and machined patterns all cascade off each other, with different facets of high polish and directional brushing creating a hall-of-mirrors effect. At 16.5mm thick, its chunky dimensions barely compare to the size of its personality, so going unnoticed on your wrist was never an option, especially if you go for the iced-out diamond-encrusted versions.
The dial is nothing short of entrancing, lattice-filled hexagrams entrapping your gaze from the bezel and sub-dials. Legibility may have been slightly compromised with the loss of contrast between the white hands and a darker dial, however the broad kite-shaped hour and minute hands, creating new intersecting patterns as they float around, tend to draw the eye regardless. Enhancing the mystical qualities is the hexagonally chamfered sapphire crystal, distorting and mirroring the edges of the dial in quite an alien way. The white highlights are tastefully balanced by a slate-grey background, occasionally opening up to reveal the workings of the HUB1240 UNICO Manufacture movement, which packs a flyback complication into the column-wheel chronograph.
Hublot’s history of rubber straps is strong, having created the first natural rubber strap on a watch, so it’s no surprise that this perfect fake Big Bang has a great one. The integration with the case is perfect, with arrowhead layers stepping down and continuing the geometry of the case. Black edges to the strap keep it looking constrained to the wrist, and reduces the visual real estate that too much white can take up.
The specifications are well up to scratch, with 100m of water resistance giving ample peace of mind for wearing it in the wet. The power reserve of 72 hours is a great bonus for those who like to leave their chronographs running, and it’s quite likely that with hands like these you’ll be wanting to see them move. A beat rate of 28,800 vph ensures that the sweep of the shapes isn’t too juddering and distracting, although you may end up distracted by the enticing view of the see-through caseback with another geometric web as the rotor weight. The release is highly limited, with only 200 of the titanium models and 100 of the King Gold varieties, priced at 23,900CHF (approx. AUD$36,700) and 44,900CHF (approx. AUD$68,950) respectively.