Sang BleuI speak to Maxime Plescia-Buchi at Baselworld, the luxury Swiss watch fair held annually in the beautiful city of Basel, Switzerland. Maxime is a Swiss tattoo artist , publisher and creative director. He studied psychology and graphic design, lived in Zurich and Paris and now based in London. Today he runs Sang Bleu tattoo studios in London and Zurich and also designs watches for LVHM’s Hublot brand. Below is a transcript of the interview and the video itself. Enjoy.
What makes a good watch?
There are many reasons to buy a watch, in fact they are not too dissimilar to tattoos. People by watches to collect, or because they have a passion, or for investing. I don’t think there is a perfect watch, but I think there IS a perfect watch for you. Buying a watch can be daunting, there are so many types of watches however like a tattoo you should spend time understanding the logic. I suggest finding a good magazine, media outlet or person to help guide you. Start with what you know, what are your reasons for buying a watch is it a statement, status, do you want something that is discreet and classic or something that is about showing off. For each reason there will be a watch that is best at doing that thing. There aren’t that many really good watches out there – find a person who will guide you, whether its your first purchase or only purchase you will make.
The collaboration between you and Hublot makes absolute sense – Hublot is a relatively new brand and originally known for being controversial – mixing precious metals with rubber for example. Would you collaborate with any other brand or does the DNA and essence of a brand matter?
There are many watch brands I’ve looked up to in the past, however what I realise now from the inside is non of these other brands have the guts or the spirit to do something that would appeal to someone like myself. Right now I would say no, there is no one else I would collaborate with. Hublot is a match made in heaven. Someone like Jean-Claude Biver is like a messiah and I’ve been inspired by how he has bought a creative and entrepreneurial spirit alive on a big scale even though LVMH now own the brand. I can’t see anywhere else where I could thrive as I do in this relationship.
Lets talk about the watch. Who are you trying to appeal to with the design of this watch?
We did not think like that. When it comes to my approach to design its never limited to a medium, its always a vision. When it comes to the people I work with, some may like what I do, be intrigued by a specific design or inspired by my style, but the majority of them understand and identify with the spirit behind it. We wanted to create a watch that carried the same spirit that would be true to what Sang Bleu is and what and how I do, this is what Hublot got on board with and supported. We could not have told you we want a watch that will talk to this or that person. We wanted a watch that was an animation of our common work and that’s what we delivered a product that is true to that spirit and its why people connected with it, it was extreme and pure – we did not compromise. Its for these reasons why we did not think about who it should appeal to that it works.
What inspires you generally, not specifically about watches, but in life?
Everything inspires me, I’m a sensitive person and I vibrate with everything around me and my environment. I have a certain lifestyle now but I have travelled, moved from country to county and took inspiration from this, visually, culturally and politically, anything…. So in the end it is quite an egocentric point of view! I belong to a generation of people who live this globalised culture, that quite extreme but holistic that’s not linked to one practice, style or profession, but who perceive culture as a lifestyle that extends into business, politics, education, everyday life – from the way you eat, you drive, everyday my life is inspiring from children, friends, acquaintances and people who I meet everyday like yourself. I do represent a certain generation; people resonate with what I do for this reason.
Today there are lots of companies trying to get into wearable technology, generally its not very exciting, give me your thoughts?
That’s a very interesting, I’ll give you an indirect answer. If you look at something I know very well – publishing, traditional (print) publishing went through a crisis with the rise of social media, but what was really interesting (past the fear of “print is dead”), you could see that print is not dead, traditional formats do work. We needed to go through a period of craziness, fear, excitement and appropriation of all these things to figure what its good for and not.
So thinking about technology and in particular related watches and the watch industry, I think this is exactly what we will be going through over the next few years. I have no doubt it will not have a problem surviving, but it does need to understand where all these technologies fit and what makes sense. No one knows this yet. I think its exciting but I personally find it completely uninteresting, I have no interest for connected/smart watches, the very essence of these devices are completely useless. It does not fill a gap, they are completely artificial and made up devices – they are addressing problems that does’t exist. I use electronics everyday, I work on an iPhone, its pretty clear how certain devices fill a need and others absolutely do not. Personally I think that connected watches are useless but that’s not the point, I think what is going to stand the test of time is not connected watches, but how they challenge the traditional watch industry and force them to question and update itself. The crisis is not because of smartwatches, its because something was lost, maybe the watch industry got cocky or too confident at some stage. Smartwatches have burst that bubble. At a lower price point or certain level there should be collaborations between traditional watch makers who understand things like ergonomics, and technology device makers because technology companies who only focus on software and where the hardware is quite basic are struggling with the interaction with the body and habits beyond sitting behind a screen.