How Hublot & Tattoo Studio Sang Bleu Created One Of 2023’s Hottest Watches
Sang Bleu tricked out a $70,000 Spirit of Big Bang with 180 diamonds and tattoo-inspired designs.
Sang Bleu is best known as the unifying brand behind a pair of sought-after tattoo studios located in London and Los Angeles. Hublot, founded in Switzerland nearly 45 years ago, has grown into one of the world’s most recognizable luxury watch brands, as much a symbol of wealth and achievement as it is of highly innovative watchmaking.
Sang Bleu and Hublot, which just jointly released a trio of special-edition Spirit of Big Bang watches, wouldn’t seem to be likely or natural collaborators at a glance.
Except that Sang Bleu is much more than a pair of tattoo shops. It’s true that its founder, Maxime Plescia-Buchi, is something of a celebrity tattoo legend whose list of clients includes superstar musicians Kanye West, FKA Twigs and Adam Lambert, as well as perennially hip fashion designer Rick Owens.
But Plescia-Buchi’s interests and resume are vast. In his 20s, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Graphic Design and apprenticed under renowned Swiss tattoo artist Filip Leu while living in his native Lausanne, Switzerland. He then moved to Paris and worked at various design agencies before relocating again to London in the mid-2000s, at which point Sang Bleu was founded—not as a tattoo shop but as a magazine.
“Existing magazines covered only one area: art, fashion, tattooing, etc. But I hung around people who had an interest [in] all the above and no media represented this,” Plescia-Buchi told Something Curated of Sang Bleu’s beginnings.
“Especially tattoo publications had absolutely no interest [in] contemporary art or fashion. I wanted to create a media that really represented the lifestyle of culture I, and many other young people lived in really.”
Like the original magazine’s content scope, Sang Bleu is now extremely multifaceted as a full-fledged creative agency. It contains a publishing house that prints multiple magazines and photo books, a clothing design arm that’s partnered with New Balance and Nike, a type-design company called Swiss Typefaces, the aforementioned tattoo shops and online magazine, and an ongoing collaboration with Hublot, which has most recently spawned the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu collection.
This is the third Hublot watch that Plesica-Buchi has designed— his first two ticking canvases were 39mm and 45mm versions of Hublot’s flagship Big Bang oversized chronographs, released in 2016 and 2019, respectively. The initial Big Bang Sang Bleu’s dial featured a single geometric structure in the center of the dial, the perfect proportions of which were inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s famed anatomical drawing, The Vitruvian Man.
It could only be considered simple when compared to the Big Bang Sang Bleu II, an “expression of a ‘full body’ tattoo” that features three geometric patterns on the dial and several more across the case, hexagonal bezel and hands. The Spirit of Big Bang, featuring a barrel-shaped 42mm case instead of the Big Bang’s circular case, serves as Plescia-Buchi’s third Hublot canvas.
“I have been able to question and review each component, from the case to the crystal, the bracelet to the clasp, considering each shape and proportion through a holistic reflection,” he says. “The aim is to incorporate the DNA of the Big Bang Sang Bleu II into the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu. The result is a similar geometric aesthetic with a new interpretation of shapes and volumes.”
The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu features “geometric tattoos” that alternate and overlap from the case to the bezel—the focal point is a 3D diamond formed by several layered triangle and pyramid shapes.
A sapphire dial displays the HUB4700 automatic skeleton chronograph movement through disc hands bearing more of its designer’s intensely geometric patterns. Plsecia-Buchi also customized several other components with unique markings, including the elongated bevels, the 6 H-shaped titanium screws running through the bezel, and the screwed crown over molded rubber.
The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu is limited to 200 examples in titanium, 200 in all-black ceramic, and 100 in gold. Additionally, exactly one gold and one titanium watch, each set with 180 diamonds (about 2.4 carats’ worth), will be produced at a cost of around $70,000. Now try to tell us that Hublot x Sang Bleu is anything but a match made in watch-collecting heaven.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Maxim magazine.