MA­TE­RIAL PLAY

Hublot has con­sis­tently ex­per­i­mented with var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als through­out its his­tory, and this year is no dif­fer­ent

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Contents - Text Jamie Tan

Hublot the ma­te­rial al­chemist

Ever the dis­rup­tor, Hublot doesn’t just shake up the watch in­dus­try with out­ra­geous move­ment de­signs, like the MP-05 La­fer­rari and its 11 stacked bar­rels that boast a 50-day power re­serve. It also makes waves with its use of un­con­ven­tional ma­te­ri­als, many of which are pro­pri­etary. The man­u­fac­ture’s call­ing cards may be King Gold, a fadere­sis­tant al­loy that’s red­der than typ­i­cal red gold, and Magic Gold, which melds ce­ramic and gold to form a scratch-proof al­loy. But it has also used many other ma­te­ri­als in its watches. Who can for­get how the brand steeped to­bacco leaves in epoxy be­fore cut­ting di­als out of the hard­ened blocks and fit­ting them within the Clas­sic Fu­sion “For­bid­denx”? Or how leather from Ber­luti is used in mak­ing both the straps and di­als of the Clas­sic Fu­sion Ber­luti time­pieces?

There is, of course, a method to the mad­ness. For one, Hublot’s choice of un­con­ven­tional ma­te­ri­als has al­lowed the

brand to ex­e­cute de­signs that are other­wise im­pos­si­ble to pull off. The man­u­fac­ture’s will­ing­ness to ex­per­i­ment has also set it apart as an in­no­va­tor—and a dar­ing one at that. Also, there is the brand’s DNA to con­sider—the play with ma­te­ri­als that are in­spired/sup­plied by its part­ners is yet another as­pect of Hublot’s Art of Fu­sion.

For its 2017 nov­el­ties, Hublot has un­veiled new ma­te­ri­als and brought back old ones. The most dif­fi­cult to pull off is, without a doubt, the coloured sap­phire used in the Big Bang Unico Sap­phire. While clear sap­phire cases have been used in the in­dus­try for quite a few years, the chal­lenge of pro­duc­ing coloured sap­phire in suit­able sizes and con­sis­tent hues has pre­cluded its use in watch­mak­ing—un­til now. Hublot has de­vel­oped its own process to man­u­fac­ture both red and blue tinted sap­phire, which are then ma­chined to the nec­es­sary shapes for the watch.

Hublot’s con­tin­ued part­ner­ship with Italia In­de­pen­dent, which pre­vi­ously saw the in­tro­duc­tion of Tex­al­ium (an alu­minium-coated car­bon fi­bre), has yielded two other ma­te­ri­als this year. The first is vel­vet, which ap­pears in the Big Bang One Click Italia In­de­pen­dent —the in­au­gu­ral ladies’ model from the two mar­ques’ col­lab­o­ra­tion. Vel­vet’s soft, sen­sual tex­ture ap­pears on both the dial and strap, to con­trast with the time­piece’s ce­ramic case and rub­ber de­tail­ing, which lend a tech­ni­cal slant to the watch in­stead. Quite an in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion, if we may.

Mean­while, the Clas­sic Fu­sion Chrono­graph Italia In­de­pen­dent fea­tures var­i­ous tar­tan fab­rics sourced from Ital­ian tai­lor­ing house Ru­bi­nacci. Like their fem­i­nine coun­ter­parts, the watches here fea­ture the fab­rics promi­nently on the dial and strap, with dif­fer­ent case ma­te­ri­als to ac­cen­tu­ate each fab­ric’s pat­terns. Swiss watches with a de­cid­edly Gaelic vibe? Check.

Round­ing things up is the Big Bang Broderie Sugar Skull Fluo, which brings back the Bischoff em­broi­dery from St. Gallen pre­vi­ously show­cased by Hublot. The dif­fer­ence this time lies in the flu­o­res­cent em­broi­dery pro­duced spe­cially for the watch—the elec­tric hues con­trast sharply against both the black back­ground of the strap and dial, as well as the ce­ramic case it­self.

While many brands are fo­cus­ing on push­ing their lim­its in cre­at­ing avant-garde mech­a­nisms, Hublot is clearly tak­ing things in its own hands and chart­ing its course.

Hublot is more than a watch­maker; it’s a ma­te­rial al­chemist, churn­ing out pro­pri­etary gold al­loys (above) and in­cor­po­rat­ing flu­o­roscent lace into its watch di­als and straps.

Un­con­ven­tional ma­te­ri­als like tar­tan fab­ric (top) and sap­phire crys­tals have been em­ployed by Hublot to cre­ate watches.

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