As it does every year, Hublot introduced an array of new timepieces at Baselworld 2015. This year, the brand also hosted one of the fair’s entertainment highlights: on March 22, a selection of guests gathered to watch a “live art” performance by Brazilian artist, painter and sculptor Romero Britto and Swiss enamelist Vanessa Lecci — both of whom also collaborated on a new, limited-edition Hublot watch.
Britto, who is influenced by the Pop Art and Cubism art movements, began his relationship with Hublot when he collaborated with the brand during last year’s Brazilian World Cup, for which he created the tournament’s iconic multi-colored soccer ball. This year, Hublot brought back Britto to fuse the traditional art of grand feu enameling with the contemporary aesthetics of Pop Art and Cubism to create the Hublot Classic Fusion Enamel Britto: a fusion of arts and crafts.
To thank Lecci for her work reproducing his work onto a dial, Britto painted a portrait of her live in front of a few dozen guests at the Hublot booth. Everyone left their seats to gather around Britto while he painted Lecci; this was immediately followed by Lecci demonstrating how she enamels the dial of the Classic Fusion using a microscope.
Artists in their own right, enamelists are masters at working with materials with properties requiring extensive knowledge of how they each react in temperatures required for their fusion onto the dial in miniature parameters. Guided by Britto’s lively and brightly colored artwork, the master dial-maker reproduces the outline of the design to the right scale, creating the miniature walls that will be filled with enamel, before stamping the dial in white gold to prepare it for the next stage, champlevé enameling.
The enamelist grinds the enamel in a mortar before applying thin layers of powder to the dial, after which the colors are applied one at a time. To reproduce the original design as honestly as possible, the enamelist works with the enamel in the same way that Britto works with acrylics, using opaque colors. The enamelist chooses 12 opaque colors out of the 250 shades in the color palette, which happen to be the most delicate and sensitive to firing. Each color is fixed to the metal through successive firings at a temperature of approximately 800°C, until the final pattern appears after several days’ work.
In creating this dial, Britto found it very challenging to convey all he wanted to visually on such a miniaturized platform, but it was made possible by the enamel being divided into cells, or “cloisons”, which are so delicately produced that they are practically invisible. Britto’s designs take on a three-dimensional appearance in the two-dimensional space of the dial.
Hublot said that, with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, it set out to create a fusion of the arts using an age-old art with a modern design on the platform of horology. The watch is available in a platinum or ceramic case, with a black alligator strap stitched onto rubber; it will be produced as a 50-piece limited edition for the ceramic version and a 30-piece limited edition for the platinum version.