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. Both the artist and brand are both in agreement that art is universal and that functional objects should be one with artistic creation. Underpinning these shared values is the desire to make both art and the art of watchmaking more approachable.
Orlinski’s approach towards sculpture is flexible. There’s a dynamism that perfectly aligns with Hublot’s ‘The Art of Fusion’ concept, making this one of the most natural and exciting collaborations to keep an eye on.
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.
The Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph
At the beginning of the year, Orlinksi and Hublot announced the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski, limited to two 200-piece editions in titanium and blue ceramic. The piece adapted the world of Orlinski’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 (but with a slight Orlinski spin).
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.
It makes sense that the next limited run of 200 pieces for the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski 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 relevant 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 is that Hublot’s own vivid red ceramic was only unveiled at this year’s Baselworld. It’s appearance now on the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski is fitting, and is indicative of the brand’s commitment towards using their new ceramics across different collections.
Further editions of the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski, 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 also 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.
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.