In Stephen Hawking’s universe, the Big Bang signals the beginning of time; in the watchmaking world, it is a best-selling Hublot watch. Hublot has always been a brand that likes to make noise, a lot of noise. It is loud, explosive and disruptive; a brand that you either love or hate. Although the Big Bang is very much a 21st-century creation, it owes its character to a watch released in 1980. You could say that Carlo Crocco’s Hublot watch jump-started the concept of fusion, an unorthodox but refreshing combination of materials that got the brand noticed. And as this watch turns a respectable age in 2020, the brand releases the new Hublot Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary collection.
Carlo Crocco’s unconventional marriage of materials
Italian entrepreneur Carlo Crocco founded the brand MDM Genève and, after three years of research, launched the Hublot (French for ‘porthole’) at Baselworld in 1980. An unconventional 37mm yellow gold watch with a black rubber strap, this shocking combination of a noble material like gold with waterproof rubber was an industry first and sent a ripple through the crowd at Baselworld. With its porthole-shaped case and sporty vibe, the watch (which would later be known as Classic Fusion) would become the cornerstone of Hublot’s burgeoning empire and was quickly adopted by sporty European royals. With the arrival of Jean-Claude Biver in 2004, the concept of fusion was amplified onboard the Big Bang, the brand’s flagship collection. Not only did it cement the trend for large watches, the Big Bang struck a chord among younger, trendier (wealthy) watch buyers.
By no means the first luxury sports watch – that title is held by AP’s Royal Oak of 1972 – Crocco’s Hublot watch followed the formula almost to a tee. Crafted in yellow gold with brushed and polished finishes, it had the mandatory complex case construction, a porthole-inspired bezel, exposed screws and an integrated bracelet. The striking difference here was the material used on the bracelet. Instead of the more conventional formula of an integrated metal bracelet, Crocco fitted the watch with a black rubber strap with a well-hidden double-bladed deployant clasp. The minimalist black dial, with just three central hands and a date window at 3 o’clock, was no doubt a reflection of Crocco’s Italian flair for design.
As an enthusiastic sailor, Crocco’s choice of a waterproof, resilient strap made a lot of sense. Print advertisements of the day pictured a sailing boat in high seas with a rendering of the watch and a brief description of its virtues. Described as ‘light’ and ‘daring’, ‘waterproof to 5 Atm’, the first Hublot had a quartz movement.
The Hublot Classic Fusion 40 Years
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Crocco’s groundbreaking watch, Hublot reinterprets the Classic Fusion in a more contemporary key. This means a larger 45mm case size and perhaps more importantly, a proper mechanical movement. The overall look of the anniversary Classic Fusion, with its minimalist black lacquer dial, integrated black rubber strap and complex case construction, is close to the original, but as we will discover, there are a few changes.
The watch is available in three versions: satin-finished and polished 18k yellow gold (100 pieces), satin-finished and polished titanium (200 pieces), and satin-finished and polished black ceramic (200 pieces). And all three models measure 45mm across, have a case height of 10.95mm and are water-resistant to 100 metres.
Unlike the original with its 12 screws on the bezel, all members of the Classic Fusion family now have six H-shaped titanium screws, and two rubber details on either side of the case wedged in between the case middle and the bezel. The contrasting finishings on the case emphasize its dynamic architecture no end.
However, where the anniversary models differ from the other Classic Fusion models can be appreciated on the dial. The inky black lacquer dial is sleek, and like the original, bereft of numerals. The hands are faceted and the counterweight of the central seconds hand bears the H logo, similar to H applied at noon and the Hublot appliqué below. The date window is rounded and softer than the rectangular frame of the original, and the black background matches the black dial.
Obviously, the integration of a mechanical movement is an upgrade over the original quartz-powered engine of the 1980 model. The Hublot Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary is powered by the Hublot HUB1112 automatic movement based on a Sellita SW300-1 with a 42-hour power reserve.
All three anniversary models are fitted with ultra-smooth black rubber straps with black-plated titanium deployant clasps and either yellow gold, titanium or black ceramic trimmings to match case material.
An accomplished reinterpretation of an icon, these anniversary models capture the sleek minimalism of the original but upgrade the mechanics and increase the dimensions to reflect today’s market trends. Somewhat pricey for a three-hand watch, this is definitely aimed at collectors who liked the original but want something more in tune with the times and with a mechanical movement.
Availability & Price
All three Hublot Classic Fusion 40 Years are limited editions and are now available at retailers. The 18k yellow gold model is limited to 100 pieces and retails for EUR 24,800, the titanium model is limited to 200 pieces and retails for EUR 8,200, and the black ceramic model, also limited to 200 pieces, retails for EUR 10,300.
More information at Hublot.