Gisbert L. Brunner has been writing about watches for 35 years. He has published more than 20 books on the subject.
Maxim Büchi ultimately has Pierre Keller to thank for the fact that he was given the opportunity to design a wristwatch for Hublot which features easily recognisable elements of his striking graphic design. The former director of the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), who also happened to be Büchi’s professor, is friends with the chairman of the board at Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver.
After studying under Pierre Keller at ECAL, the Swiss man, now 38, first needed time to discover himself, as he put it to me on April 20 2016 in New York. Over the years, it became clear what he didn’t want to do professionally long-term. That included the teaching position he was offered at ECAL. Nor was Maxime Büchi much taken with the idea of being a full-time graphic designer. What he wanted was to be self-employed and have the opportunity for unlimited personal development.
This drive first bore fruit in the shape of Swiss Typefaces, which he set up with two other former classmates from ECAL in 2003. The firm produced logos and typography for internationally renowned companies such as Balenciaga. Fashion-designer Boris Bidjan Saberi was also a client. And that was just one aspect of his multifaceted professional talents. “I worked for Self Service and their associated advertising agency Work In Progress for six monthsin Paris.”
Then Büchi was off to London, where he set up his own magazine Sang Bleu out of thin air. “I could put everything that I was interested in and fascinated by in that magazine. That included fashion and tattoos.” Speaking of which, he has given his own body up to plenty of those since back in his student days. Now we can say he is an all-round work-of-art, literally from top to toe. “I have tattoos on about 90% of my body. When my Swiss tattoo-artist offered to have me trained up, I agreed on the spot.” Back in his favourite city of London, Maxim Büchi gave up his day-job as artistic director to open a trendy tattoo parlour called Sang Bleu.
Of course he was extremely happy, “…when Pierre Keller called and invited me to Hublot in Nyon because I’d worked with watches since my youth.”
The joint venture started in February 2015 during London Fashion Week. It resulted in an opulent sculpture made of glass and metal. It is reminiscent of squaring the circle and also refers to the optical code of the new Big Bang Sang Bleu.
In this wristwatch, Maxime Büchi and Hublot have brought together the art of graphic design and tattooing in a very vivid way. There had never been this kind of timepiece in the Big Bang collection before. The 200-piece Big Bang Sang Bleu limited edition catches the eye with its oblique lines, underlining the desired geometric effect. The faceted bezel is hexagonal. The hour, minute and second display is on three different levels. Rotation changes the open-work look of the dial continually.
And it should be no surprise that Maxime Büchi invented the typography for the Arabic numerals on this wristwatch especially. When asked why there is no tattooed strap available with this watch, Maxime Büchi reveals that it would only work on living skin. You can’t tattoo dead or tanned skin.
A HUB1213 calibre with a 72-hour power reserve ticks away inside the 45-millimetre titanium case, water-resistant to ten bar. This is the famous Unico in-house automatic winding movement, with no chronograph function. It goes without saying that Maxime Büchi also designed the rotor in his graphic style. The 4Hz movement requires 255 parts in all.