Specialist Picks • 13 Dec 2018

Hublot: The Richard Orlinksi Year in Review

by Luke Carlino


2018 was a big year for the brand behind the Big Bang. Not only did Hublot raise the bar in high-tech materials- notably with the illustrious Big Bang Red Magic – but they also tapped into the avant-garde, working with one of the most readily identifiable contemporary artists out there.

It is the collaboration with the world’s highest-selling French contemporary artist, Richard Orlinski, which has truly stolen the Hublot show, however. Both the artist and brand are both in agreement that art is universal and that functional objects should be one with artistic creation. They then set along the path towards making art accessible, with watches that anyone can wear. Wearable, practical art that sits somewhere in-between completely over-the-top and reserved.

Understanding Orlinski

Richard Orlinski is known as a contemporary French Pop artist who specialises in colourful sculptures that he attributes to a “Born Wild” ethos. Known for taking iconic imagery such as skulls, or pop culture figures like Superman and turning them into monochromatic figures constructed of industrial materials.

Orlinski is best known for a number of life-sized sculptures in various locations all over the world. One of the more recent pieces is a gigantic red panda which can be found in Paris, created to celebrate the cultural and commercial relationship between Chengdu in China and the 6th arrondissement, Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

The artist’s distinctive geometric aesthetic caught the eye of Hublot, who, after years of turning down similar offers from other brands, Orlinski agreed to collaborate with. This was mainly due to the CEO of Hublot Ricardo Guadalupe’s willingness to give Orlinski total artistic freedom.

Ricardo Guadalupe, Jean-Claude Biver, Richard Orlinski

The Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph

At the beginning of the year, Orlinksi and Hublot announced the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph, limited to two 200-piece editions in titanium and blue ceramic. The piece adapted the world of Orlinkski’s art into a watch, specifically the aspects from his large animal sculptures. Orlinksi seems adverse to roundness, favouring angles instead, evident in the dodecagonal bezel. To offset this, the shape of the crown and pushers are influenced by traditional watchmaking rules.

The Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph México

The popularity of the Aerofusion inevitably meant that 2018 was going to see more editions. The México line looked to introduce more colour, specifically the colours of the Mexican flag and was limited to thirty 45mm pieces. The piece included twelve facets in green ceramic, with a three-dimensional cambering technique. The red element of the flag appeared on the second hand with the eagle and snake appearing on the HUB1155 skeleton self-winding chronograph movement.

Orlinski Red

It makes sense that the next limited run of 200 pieces for the Classic Fusion Chronograph would include Hublot’s patented red ceramic. Not only for the brand but also the artist. Orlinski’s very first ‘Born Wild’ sculpture back in 2004 was the Crocodile which featured a vivid and powerful shade of red, now synonymous with his work. So relative to both the artist and brand it’s a wonder why this wasn’t the very first piece in the series? The reason for this, however,  and the fact that this model is the first ceramic for Hublot to be created in a vibrant colour, was due to the difficulty of its creation. The watch required a fusion of pressure and heat to sinter the ceramic without burning the pigments to ensure the desired red was achieved.

Further editions of the Classic Fusion Chronograph, also limited to 200 pieces include the All Black and King Gold models. The latter of which features a polished 18K King Gold faceted design which runs for a slightly higher price tag than the other pieces.

The reopening of the flagship store

The middle of 2018 saw another landmark moment for Hublot with the reopening of their flagship store in Paris. With the help of Orlinski and Yannick Alléno, the three Michelin star Chef who is also a Hublot ambassador, the newly renovated store was officially inaugurated with a treasure hunt. The treasure? An Orlinski Mick Blue “Wild Kong” sculpture explicitly created for the occasion.

One of the impressive features of the new Boutique is an interactive table which features touch screens showcasing the Hublot range. The ground floor of the store is also decorated with various pop art works inspired by Hublot Big Bang range.

Hublot celebrated another art form, that of music when Hublot and The Hour Glass opened the first boutique in Hanoi. Renowned pianist Lang Lang gave and performance and was present for the grand opening.

The new Hublot boutique is located in the Sofitel Legend Metropole, known as the historical and timeless Hanoi’s most storied 5-star hotel. Located steps from the Opera House, right in the center of Hanoi’s French Quarter.

Hublot loves art

The collaborations with Orlinski are not the only forays into the world of art that the Swiss luxury watchmaker have made in 2018. A partnership with the AAC aware for contemporary art in China saw its fourth consecutive year this year. With a ceremony held at the Jianfu Palace Garden, the annual art event recognises various sectors of different ages throughout the contemporary art scene in China.

Jianfu Palace Garden of the Palace Museum
Richard Orlinski at the Hublot Loves Art Dinner in Miami

Luke Carlino

Luke is a writer and musician from Melbourne, Australia. One of his earliest memories is a gift given to him by his father - his grandfather's Seiko 5606-5100 automatic watch that accompanied him during the Vietnam war. Ever since, timepieces have marked the crucial moments of Luke's life. He is never without a watch and has a particular interest in Hublot and Breitling watches.


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