A Dark Matter
Well over a decade ago, in 2006, long before the present-day infatuation with all black ceramic, PVD and DLC watches in the market, it was Hublot that initiated and popularized the concept of timepieces, cloaked in the color of darkness.
This leap of genius was the idea of none other than Chairman, Jean-Claude Biver who, inspired by Carlo Cerlatti a jeweler from Monaco, toyed with the possibility of watches that would essentially make time disappear.
With an all-black ceramic case as its foundation and then going beyond in making everything else black – from the dial to the hands and markers – the aesthetic result was a watch that was altogether unsettling and completely dazzling. Its sharp material clarity demonstrated the philosophy of ‘visible invisibility’ and that black, in fact, wasn’t all that black at all.
Understandably, the radical idea to kill the essence of watch-wearing raised many uncertainties internally within Hublot. The story goes that the watchmaker who assembled the first prototype of the Big Bang All-Black had even apologized to Biver when he presented him the piece as though he had made a mistake.
To his critics, Biver had this to say, “No one will pay €10,000 for a watch just to read the time. We use our cellphones for that. Fortunately, a luxury watch offers me very different qualities. The watch I wear lets me demonstrate whether my personality tends towards elegance, sports or originality. That’s much more important. The watch communicates my personality.”
No doubt, the success of the Hublot Big Bang All-Black was due to this very epiphany. The watch entered the market in a time when the left field of watchmaking was underserved. At the same time, black cases were achieved by simply black-coating stainless steel but Hublot instead, opted for ceramic which is virtually wear-resistant and moreover – through and through – black.
Since then, Hublot has released a staggering number of all-black timepieces. All of which have garnered Hublot a space in the realm of horology that is truly unique unto itself.
Black According to Yohji Yamamoto
Having graduated with a degree in law, Yohji Yamamoto gave up what would’ve been a legal career in order to help his mother, who made dresses for a living. It is here that Yamamoto picked up a taste for tailoring.
So much so that in 1969, just three years on from having obtained his law degree, he went on to pick up his degree in fashion design from the Bunka Fashion College headquartered in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Yamamoto first broke into the international fashion scene in 1981, when he debuted in Paris. He later went on to establish his eponymous label Yohji Yamamoto and further on, Y’s and Y-3. Other than his particular take on Japanese aesthetics, Yamamoto was also titled, Fashion’s Poet of Black by the New York Times, back in 2000 (nytimes.com).
When asked about his partiality towards black, he shared with New York Times saying, “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. It means that many things go together, yet it takes different aspects in many fabrics. You need black to have a silhouette. Black can swallow light, or make things look sharp. But above all black says this: ‘I don’t bother you — don’t bother me!”‘
The Collaboration – Hublot Big Bang GMT All Black Yohji Yamamoto
It is for his distinctive take on the use of black in his craft that when Hublot was looking to collaborate with a Japanese artist, to create a commemorative timepiece for the grand opening of its new flagship Boutique on Chuo-dori Street in Ginza, Tokyo, Yamamoto was as appropriate an artist as the multiple others that Hublot is able to seamlessly collaborate with, thanks to the watchmaker’s philosophy of “Art of Fusion”.
The Big Bang GMT All Black Yohji Yamamoto, is of course, a variation of the Big Bang GMT announced in 2017. The timepiece is powered by the Hublot Unico manufacture movement HUB1251, which is equipped with a patented module that allows the GMT hand on the watch to be adjusted instantly using the pushers on the side of the case.
The two pushers at two and four o’clock, which are styled after chronograph pushers, are used to advance the local time forward and backward in one-hour increments respectively. They have been redesigned, however, to ensure they can be distinguished from Big Bang chronographs, and more than that, their rectangularity have been drawn from the historic push-buttons of the first Big Bang models. A safety device is also worked into the movement that prevents the simultaneous activation of the two pushers.
In following Yamamoto’s and Hublot’s all black aesthetics, the timepiece is forged in micro-blasted and polished black ceramic. The watch also bears Yamamoto’s signature at six o’clock on the watch face.
Speaking about the collaboration, Yamamoto shared saying, “this watch can easily display the time zones of the two cities where I’m based, Tokyo and Paris. Moreover, the hours are invisible. As a person who isn’t always forthcoming, I find that highly amusing. I’m pleased to have taken part in the creation of this model to celebrate the opening of Hublot Boutique in Ginza, a unique, famous and iconic neighbourhood of Japan.”
In return, Hublot CEO, Ricardo Guadalupe commented, “we are honored to celebrate the opening of our new flagship Boutique in Tokyo with fashion designer super star Yohji Yamamoto. This All Black limited edition we created together expresses a simple beauty through the fusion of Yohji Yamamoto’s black design signature and the complicated GMT manufacture movement.”
The Hublot Big Bang GMT All Black Yohji Yamamoto is a limited edition of 50 pieces and will be exclusively available at the Hublot Boutique Ginza.
HUB1251 UNICO Manufacture self-winding GMT; hours, minutes and running seconds; GMT; 72-hour power reserve
45mm micro-blasted and polished black ceramic; water resistant to 100m
Black Rubber strap; black plated titanium deployant buckle clasp
Limited to 50 pieces, only in Japan with limited availability at Hublot Boutique Ginza; price: 2,500,000 JPY (before tax)