“Hublot loves Art!” An ethos that has been brought to life by the Swiss watchmaker through its collaborations with renowned artists. This special class of Hublot ambassadors have been joined for the first time by Takashi Murakami – one of the most internationally recognised living artists – with the recently unveiled 200-pieces limited edition Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black.
“Takashi Murakami is an international star, not only in contemporary art circles but also with the general public. He shakes up the borders between art and pop culture. It is a real privilege to see him join our team of ambassadors. We are delighted with the launch of this watch-work of art,” says Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO.
Takashi (born 1962) is the artist most responsible for making Japanese art sought after on the international art scene, while simultaneously creating a domestic market for art in his native Japan. He achieved this by taking elements of what was considered Japanese “low-art” – art associated with Japanese subcultures – and mixing it with elements of Modern Western art and Japanese traditional art forms – such as Nihonga, in which he has a PhD. These artworks are then presented at international “high-art” forums. Takashi coined the word “Superflat” to describe this approach to art.
Takashi is also considered a pioneer in blurring the line between fine art – such as painting and sculpture – and commercial art – such as fashion, merchandising, and animation. For example, Takashi produced the cover for Kanye West’s Graduation album and directed the animated music video for West’s song ‘Good Morning.’ Takashi’s work on these two projects inspired his future paintings and sculptures. His most famous collaboration – the one that made him internationally renowned – is the one with Louis Vuitton, which began in 2002 and is among the longest-running collaborations ever.
Takashi’s Superflat artworks are characterised by the use of well-defined colours, glossy surfaces, flatness, and recurring motifs from Japanese traditional and popular culture, which are often described as cute, psychedelic or satirical. The best known of these recurring motifs include Anime inspired characters, mushrooms, skulls, Buddhist iconography and, above all, smiling flowers.
Takashi’s much-beloved smiling flowers exemplify the Superflat ethos better than most as they have appeared in a wide range of platforms, from Kanye West’s album cover to jewellery, clothing, bags, soft-toys and even an Art-Basel installation. Such is their popularity that last year, a collaboration with Supreme raised over US$ one million for COVID-19 relief. The smiling flowers form the centrepiece of Takashi’s first collaboration with Hublot.
Before starting work on the design for his Classic Fusion, Takashi visited the Hublot manufacture in February last year. This enabled him to familiarise himself with the work of watchmakers and timepiece designing.
“When I visited the Hublot manufacture in Switzerland for the first time, I realised to what extent the traditional know-how, precision, futuristic technology and craftsmanship were all intertwined in the creation of a watch. Bringing my art into the creativity of these watchmakers represents a unique adventure for me,” said Takashi.
On Takashi’s Hublot Classic Fusion, the smiling flower is presented both in and on the watch, while taking up one of the most evocative Hublot signatures: the All Black. Introduced by the watchmaker in 2006, it turns out that the “All Black” style is also one of Takashi’s artistic signatures. For an even more pronounced effect, the petals and face are set with black diamonds – 456 brilliants on the petals and 107 brilliants on the face, to be exact.
On the technical side, the engineers at Hublot developed an ingenious ball-bearing system to make the petals rotate within the case. Also, the flower’s centre is inserted onto the sapphire glass, creating a unique three-dimensional effect to go along with its wide prominent smile. Inside, they have installed the Unico calibre for this watch with a 72-hour power reserve.
As the first collaboration between Hublot and the Japanese artist, the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black is expected to become a real collector’s item since it is limited to just 200 models.