Go­ing hi-tech has al­ways been a core el­e­ment of Hublot’s DNA. But just when we thought we knew what to ex­pect, Hublot sur­prised us this year by bring­ing on board a tra­di­tional el­e­ment.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Special Report - Words by Leong Wong

RIGHT IN THE MIDST of the quartz cri­sis, when ex­pen­sive Swiss me­chan­i­cal watches were deemed un­nec­es­sary and out­moded, Carlo Crocco was de­ter­mined to make a mark. In 1980 he launched a watch named after the French word for port­hole: Hublot. The watch case de­sign is in­spired by the metal frame of the port­hole with its screws in gold, and it raised eye­brows in the horo­log­i­cal world. Matched with a spe­cially made rub­ber, it has a mod­ern body with a quartz move­ment and was tar­geted at the jet­ting and yacht-far­ing in­di­vid­ual that lives and breathes the Mediter­ranean sea breeze. The brand went vi­ral amongst the sail­ing-mad class, as the watch was seen wrapped around the wrist of the younger mem­bers of the Roy­alty.

Twenty years or so down the road, the world once again has wit­nessed another round of grap­pling for dom­i­nance in the horo­log­i­cal world, as me­chan­i­cal move­ment fought back with a vengeance and won. By the time the new mil­len­nium ar­rived, ev­ery­one wanted a me­chan­i­cal watch, and at a much higher cost. The quartz pieces were no longer as de­sir­able and with a new CEO in 2005, Hublot ex­pe­ri­enced a ‘turn­around’ and pro­duc­tion of quartz move­ments were greatly re­duced. Me­chan­i­cal took over and true to Hublot’s in­no­va­tive spirit, hi-tech ma­te­ri­als once again found their way back into the watches, es­pe­cially car­bon-fi­bre and ce­ramic. A few years ago, they went in­de­pen­dent and bought over a move­ments maker and car­bon fi­bre man­u­fac­turer, giv­ing them tremen­dous power in the lux­ury watch in­dus­try.

2014 is the year of change, a year of ret­ro­spec­tion, and while many watch­mak­ers stick to their clas­sic guns ev­ery inch of the way, Hublot car­ries on its hi-tech treat­ment with its Clas­sic Fu­sion. This was the model that launched the brand, and this year Hublot has in­cor­po­rated a new twist by in­tro­duc­ing the tra­di­tional el­e­ments and rare ma­te­ri­als. Will that raise as many eye­brows as it did the first time? Tra­di­tion has never been Hublot’s thing (ex­cept for the tour­bil­lon) but ex­cit­ingly, it is now.


The model that started it all in 1980 has over the years been given dif­fer­ent treat­ments to up­date its al­ready mod­ern qual­i­ties. This year, one of the added fea­tures is a su­perbly rare metal called Os­mium. The ma­te­rial is mined only in Rus­sia and South Africa and it be­longs to the same group as plat­inum. The in­ter­est­ing thing about this metal is that its ori­gin dates back to the for­ma­tion of the Earth and it has an ex­tremely high melt­ing point. It has stayed rel­a­tively the same since the for­ma­tion of the planet. To give you some per­spec­tive on how rare it is, ev­ery 10,000 tonnes of plat­inum con­tains 28g of os­mium—and plat­inum is rare it­self. To achieve that orig­i­nal form and to keep its bril­liant looks it has to be com­pacted and crys­tallised, and a team of sci­en­tists and re­searchers trans­form it into os­mium crys­tal. The os­mium crys­tal is cut into a disc and re-cut into a de­sired shape and sits just be­neath the up­per half of the black­ened skele­tal bridge. The lower part of the skele­tal dial ex­poses the other jewel in the crown through a clear sap­phire crys­tal, the tour­bil­lon. This beau­ti­ful treat­ment is housed in a black ce­ramic case with black­ened ti­ta­nium bridge.


This de­vice be­longs to the cat­e­gory of chime move­ment, as they make melo­di­ous sounds when they strike the hour. The minute re­peater was first in­vented in 1676 by an English

cleric named Rev­erend Ed­ward Bar­low in the form of a re­peat­ing clock. It was to­wards the end of the 17th Cen­tury that the re­peat­ing watch was cred­ited to Ed­ward Bar­low and Daniel Quare. It is con­sid­ered one of the most dif­fi­cult of all Grand Com­pli­ca­tions to make and cer­tainly one that is the most use­ful and en­ter­tain­ing. It was first in­tended to help the blind tell the time and later in the pocket watch form it was a very handy tim­ing de­vice for trav­ellers when they needed to tell time in the dark. To­day it’s a toy for rich boys and only a few master watch­mak­ers are qual­i­fied enough to make one.

After sev­eral cen­turies own­er­ship of the minute re­peater is still limited to the priv­i­leged few. Hublot’s minute re­peater HUB 8001 is a tra­di­tional hand-wound va­ri­ety with cathe­dral-like chime, which is ac­ti­vated by the lug on the left side of the case. The other Grand Com­pli­ca­tion, the tour­bil­lon, sits at six o’clock on the open dial which re­veals the rhodium-plated snails, wheel, cams, ham­mers, gongs, bridges racks and screws—that’s 319 com­po­nents and two years of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. They are housed in a ti­ta­nium case with ti­ta­nium bezel and rhodium-plated hour and minute hands just above the sap­phire crys­tal.


Over the last cou­ple of years we have seen the eight­day power re­serve be­come a great favourite for many watch­mak­ers. Eight-day power is not a new thing, it has been around since the pocket watch days—it is also a great way to re­mind the wearer to wind their watches on the eighth day.

To­day with new tech­nol­ogy and im­prove­ment in ma­te­ri­als eight- day power re­serve is also pos­si­ble for wrist­watches. This is the first time Hublot has in­tro­duced this mar­vel­lous new move­ment and it is also the in­dus­try’s flat­test. It is found in the cal­i­bre HUB 1601 hand-wound me­chan­i­cal move­ment which is en­cased in a King Gold hous­ing and a black sun­burst dial with ap­pliqué gold plated hour in­dexes with the power serve in­di­ca­tor be­tween nine and ten o’clock and the small seconds at six o’clock. The hour and minute hands are gold-plated.


You may re­mem­ber it’s the year of the FIFA World Cup that was held in July in Brazil. In the spirit of things Hublot has com­mem­o­rated one of the great­est coaches of our time, José Mour­inho, with the time­piece named ‘Spe­cial One’. Mour­inho has also joined the rank of Hublot’s il­lus­tri­ous line up of am­bas­sadors. To hon­our a great man you need a great watch, and King Power is the largest of all Hublot watches. Of course the watch bears the CFC colours as the high­light of the time­piece, the bezel is in dark blue car­bon fi­bre and it re­peats in the in­ner bezel with red Ara­bic nu­mer­als seconds mak­ers. The dial is open with two sub-di­als and blue rings—the con­tin­u­ous seconds at three o’clock and the minute chrono counter at nine o’clock and a skele­tal date ring with Ara­bic nu­mer­als on the outer flange with a win­dow in­di­ca­tor be­tween four and five o’clock. The move­ment and bridges be­neath are rhodium-plated and ex­pose the wheels and the col­umn wheel at six o’clock. The hour, minute and sec­ond hands are in skele­tal ti­ta­nium with blue in­serts, and the hour in­dexes are ap­pliqué ti­ta­nium with blue in­serts. The me­chan­i­cal move­ment be­neath is au­to­matic col­umn wheel hor­i­zon­tal chrono­graph with 72-hour power re­serve.

Left: Clas­sic Fu­sion King Gold Cathe­dral Minute Re­peater.

Top: King Power “Spe­cial One”

Right: Clas­sic Fu­sion 8-Day Power Re­serve.

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