Brand that dares to win
Hublot has never been a company to follow conventional wisdom. While other brands are making more sedate, elegant and classic watches to target a newer market, Hublot continues to make daring watches that go way beyond the need for telling time.
The Classic Fusion Extra-Thin Skeleton was launched just before BaselWorld and brought forth a relatively clean and elegant open-worked mechanical look, with the subtle Hublot case acting as frame for the movement. A skeletal tourbillon followed in March, with a look that added a nice helping of depth.
The new tourbillon uses hands meant to point to the hands on the very first Hublot wristwatches, adding a sense of history to a very modern-looking piece. The Classic Fusion watches are calm compared with the more signature Big Bang models, but it may well be this line than acts as an introduction for many new buyers. The Classic Fusion Skeletal Tourbillon will be offered in a 45mm case of either titanium or 18ct gold, with both models limited to 50 pieces.
The new King Power Unico GMT is far from sedate. A very active dial sits at the front of this multitime zone watch. This first evolution of the Unico manufacture chronograph movement now has a GMT function developed and manufactured in-house. This GMT has four aluminium discs on the face that make the whole watch look busily technical.
A push-button at 2 o'clock is used to position all the discs appropriately to be able to tell the time in different places as they match up with city names. The city names are not on one plane or level, which makes the watch deceptive at first as only six names appear evenly distributed on the bezel. Other city names are on other levels, even at other angles, and time in that city is told by following a sometimes non-straight line down to the nearest of the four discs and seeing what number matches the arrow. A 48mm case, in either ceramic or 18ct gold, gives this functional space the room it needs to breathe and read a little better. A previous tie-up with Formula One has produced a collaboration between Hublot and automotive legend Ferrari. Tie-ups with this Italian icon have never done well historically for high-end watch brands, but Hublot will take care of all horological collaboration with the exception of inexpensive watches available in fan shops. The first wristwatch from this collaboration is the Big Bang Ferrari, a 45.5mm watch available in newly launched magic gold (scratch-resistant 18ct gold) just launched by the Hublot foundry) or the entirely more appropriate satin titanium.
There are the usual nods to design cues from the partner, such as carbon inserts on the case profile, elongated push-buttons fixed along a rotating axis like the pedals of a car, and a quick-change system for the straps, which feature tone-on-tone stitching just like Ferrari upholstery. The rotor weight design comes from Ferrari road wheels.
In spite of all this, the Big Bang Ferrari may be most remarkable for its relative subtleness, at least in the titanium version. It is a good-looking, open-worked watch, with the Ferrari prancing horse in relief at about 9 o'clock floating above some visible working gears.
The Ferrari name and logo have been associated with several watch brands over the years, with results that were never close to stellar. Hublot has such a strong identity that you would think it would be headed down the same road. Perhaps because of the watch company's track record with tie-ups and its history of brashness and daring in terms of everything from design to technology, the match will finally work.