Hublot Adds Takashi Murakami to its Portfolio of Artist Collaborations

With this week’s unveiling of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami joins the brand’s lineup of collaborative contemporary artists, which includes Richard Orlinski, Mark Ferrero, and Shepard Fairey.

Known for fusing traditional Japanese techniques, such as gold leaf, with modern multimedia and fizzy pop culture motifs, such as his trademark smiling flower, Murakami’s fame transcended the art world.

From 2003 until 2015, he created colorful bags with Louis Vuitton that are still coveted by vintage handbag collectors. He has also worked with Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake ; the brands Vans, Uniqlo, and Crocs; and even rapper Kanye West. But he has remained wary of pricey Swiss watch brands, until now.

“Sometimes collaborations with watch companies only involve printing on the packaging,” the artist said in a video produced for the watch’s launch. “So, I used to say I would collaborate only if I can be fully involved. But I knew that was never an option, and I kept saying no.”

Hublot convinced him otherwise with a visit to the factory in Nyon, Switzerland, in February of last year. As he experienced the meticulous work of the watchmakers, engineers, and designers, he was inspired. The creative process that ensued resulted in the Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black (US$27,300), fittingly based on his iconic smiling flower.

But rather than just print the cheery motif on the dial, Hublot’s engineers brought it to life. They devised an ingenious system of ball-bearings that allow the petals, set with 456 brilliant-cut black diamonds, to spin around as you move your arm, so the dial is in constant, eye-catching motion. The smiling center of the bloom, encrusted with 107 black diamonds, emerges from the top of the sapphire crystal adding a 3-D aspect to the 45mm satin-finished and polished black ceramic case.

“When I visited the Hublot manufacture in Switzerland for the first time, I realized to what extent the traditional know-how, precision, futuristic technology, and craftsmanship were all intertwined in the creation of a watch,” Murakami said in a news release. “Bringing my art into the creativity of these watchmakers represents a unique adventure for me.”

For Hublot, the partnership marks its first collaboration with a Japanese artist, and the limited edition of 200 pieces is sure to be a hit with collectors worldwide. Given Hublot’s mastery in colored ceramics, expect to see some vibrant Murakami iterations to follow.

Hublot also added two new Classic Fusion Orlinski models (US$13,600), each limited to 200 pieces. The unisex 40mm pieces are particularly aimed at women in monochromatic vivid blue and glossy black ceramic, featuring a shiny, faceted ceramic dial for the first time.

Hublot has been collaborating with the French artist since 2017, translating his bold, faceted resin sculptures depicting bestiary and pop culture motifs into watches.

Standing next to Orlinski’s massive blue Wild Kong sculpture in Hublot’s HQ, the brand’s CEO Ricardo Guadalupe presented the new duo virtually this week, noting that the partnership has enjoyed immense commercial success so far.

“We have been inspired by the art of Richard Orlinski, and we have tried to put this art in a watch,” he said. “In the end, the result is that the watch itself becomes a piece of art.”

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