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.
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.
CLASSIC FUSION TOURBILLON FIRMAMENT OSMIUM
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.
CLASSIC FUSION CATHEDRAL TOURBILLON MINUTE REPEATER
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.
CLASSIC FUSION 8-DAY POWER RESERVE
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.
KING POWER “SPECIAL ONE”
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.