At the end of last year, Hublot unveiled its latest ode to New York City, the aptly named Classic Fusion Concrete Jungle Limited Edition. That model, limited to only 50 pieces and following up on the original Concrete Jungle released in 2016, quickly caught eyes with its unique construction — from materials including concrete, epoxy resin, fiberglass, titanium, and ceramic — and a design in-line with Hublot’s experimental “Art of Fusion” principle. As a whole, the watch worked to recall the industrial style of the “urban jungle” that inspired it.
This past week we had an opportunity for an exclusive hands-on with Edition 40 of the very limited timepiece, all while taking in the views of the city from across the Hudson River.
The watch’s 45-mm by 13.85-mm case is primarily constructed from 65-75% fine cement, though its material mixture also includes 25-30% epoxy resin (replacing the water in standard concrete), and 5-10% fiberglass (replacing the steel used to reinforce concrete), as well as some ceramic, titanium, and steel components.
Handling the watch, you first notice two features. The first is how surprisingly light it is for its size: concrete, resin, and fiberglass are relatively lightweight in comparison to the steel and gold used more often by Hublot. The second is that the watch is not cold to the touch, at all. The coldness of metal is something most watch collectors have become quite accustomed to, and likely don’t think much about. Here, the use of concrete and its low conductive qualities essentially make the case temperature resistant, not taking on much heat from its environment, and being pleasantly neutral to the touch both upon first wear and after extensive time on the wrist.
One question that was raised by the initial launch of the Concrete Jungle was about its durability over time, owing to the known brittleness of concrete as compared to steel. Part of this concern is put to rest by the brand’s use of epoxy resin and fiberglass in the case construction, which together work to reinforce the concrete and assist in its durability over time. Additionally, the case and its matching dial have both been treated with an anti-UV additive to prevent color change over time (as anyone familiar with concrete sidewalks is sure to recognize). Finally, the case has been finished with an applied anti-graffiti treatment, which as a practical matter works to prevent the concrete’s staining from common debris like dirt, but also additionally acts to smooth out the feel of the case, contradicting what you might think about concrete being rough, and providing an almost buttery feel to the touch.
The large watch has sharply angled lugs that integrate with a black textile strap, while matching black titanium screws secure the bracelet and the thick bezel surrounding the dial. On the right side of the model are two black ceramic pushers for the chronograph functionality, while a matching signed crown is located between them. On the opposite side of the case is the small black ceramic shoulder that is a signature feature on Hublot’s Classic Fusion case silhouette.
Like the case, the ceramic construction of the pushers, crown, and shoulder gives them low heat conductivity, which offers a nice consistency of feel when moving your fingers from the rougher concrete. Additionally, the shoulder, as on Hublot’s other Classic Fusion Chronographs, does have a practical purpose beyond an aesthetic one, providing a wearer’s fingers an additional point of leverage when activating the chronograph.
Like most Hublots, the watch has an overall very sporty feel, and while its unique material construction means it should probably not be put to use in the most extreme of situations, its 50-meter water resistance should ensure it holds up well over time in regular everyday use. Exemplifying this sporty style, the watch is secured to the wrist via the aforementioned, integrated black rubber-and-synthetic textile strap, easily fastened and adjusted with a microblasted black ceramic and black-plated steel deployant clasp.
Under the flat sapphire crystal lies the three-dimensional, industrial-style dial, which is also constructed out of the concrete blend. On its outer edge, a white minute ring surrounds the surface, punctuated at each hour position with sandwiched rectangle indices, each featuring rough edges that accentuate the overall industrial look. At the 3 and 9 o’clock positions lay two prominent subdials for the running seconds and 30-minute counter, respectively, with both opting for a smoother finish, their darkened look contrasting to that of the grittier main dial.
A small date window, using the same sandwiched look as the hour markers, resides a the 6 o’clock position, while an industrial-font “Automatic” printed text rests just above it. In parallel, a small white Hublot logo, in the brand’s traditional font, sits in parallel at the top just below the 12 o’clock position. Lastly, passing over all these details is a pair of sword-style hands for the hour and minute, both micro-blasted and ruthenium-anthracite-plated, while a matching Hublot “H” counterweighted hand stands alert to tally chronograph seconds.
Looking at the dial as whole, you do get a sense of a refined, straightforward simplicity in its construction. At first glance it’s a regular 30-minute chronograph configuration, sans a tachymetric scale, but upon closer inspection, the industrial look and refined quality of the watch shines through, in the contrasting texture and colors as well as most obviously in the sandwiched and indented look of its hour markers and subdials.
Considering the case’s and dial’s sophisticated and boldly experimental construction, the movement of the Concrete Jungle is arguably an afterthought to many potential purchasers. With that said, the Hublot Caliber HUB1143 — an in-house-finished movement based upon the ETA 2892-A2 — does have some interesting aspects to it, including a massive, boosted jewel count totaling 59, some refined perlage and striations behind the partially skeletonized rotor, and a microblasted, black ceramic exhibition caseback that protects and showcases it all.
At the end of the day, the caliber is at its core an ETA 2892-A2, with all the technical benefits that entails, including a a 42-hour power reserve and a brisk frequency of 28,800 vph.
Pricing and Availability
The Hublot Classic Fusion Concrete Jungle is available now and is limited to 50 pieces total, each currently priced at $18,800 and exclusive to the American market. The watch is currently available through Hublot’s Fifth Avenue boutique in New York City, online, and via other authorized boutiques throughout the United States.
For more information and to inquire for purchase, you can visit Hublot’s website, here.