When he first talked to Hublot about the possibility of a collaboration, tattooist Maxime Büchi insisted on going deep: ‘I said that if the extent of the project was decorative, I wasn’t the right person to work on it. I didn’t know precisely what I wanted to do, but I knew it couldn’t be just that.’ Büchi is not the first tattooist to work with a fine watch house (though he is the first Swiss one). But, as other tattooists’ designs already included strap and dial work, Büchi wanted to make a more fundamental impact on how the watch marked time. 

A former student at Lausanne’s ÉCAL, Büchi’s core craft is typography – he co-founded an online font foundry called Swiss Typefaces in 2009 – which informs everything he does. Under his multidisciplinary Sang Bleu brand, Büchi runs a magazine, a clothing line, and, of course, an internationally lauded tattoo studio. ‘Studying typography helped me develop an appreciation of very subtle variations in proportions; that graphic sensibility where just by varying the line weight you can make something look 1950s or 1970s.’

Which might help explain why there are no hands on the dial of the new ‘Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu’. Instead, it is dominated by a rhodium-plated, Büchi motif mechanism comprised of discs indicating the hours and minutes. The hour numerals stamped on a circular flange on the dial are, naturally, created by Swiss Typefaces. Büchi has even had a go at the bezel, chamfering and slicing to create a hexagon that subtly mirrors the dial. All in all, it’s not just a mesmeric object but points to Büchi as an uncannily talented horological designer.

As originally featured in the June 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*207)