A gold watch on a rubber strap scarcely raises an eyebrow among the watch-aficionado set these days, but in 1980 the idea was wildly unconventional — and, as it turned out, visionary and revolutionary as well. It was an upstart brand called Hublot, founded in 1980 by Italian entrepreneur Carlo Crocco, which first produced such a timepiece, and the concept of “fusion” that it represented would pave the way for that Swiss company’s amazing growth over the subsequent four decades. This year, in commemoration of its 40th anniversary, Hublot has reinvented that groundbreaking original watch for a contemporary audience, with some subtle but substantial modern upgrades. Here is what you need to know about the Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary models.
The new watch is available in three different case materials, all measuring 45 mm in diameter and featuring the screwed “porthole” bezel from which the brand derives its name (“hublot” is French for “porthole”). The model in 18k yellow gold, the one most evocative of the 1980 trailblazer, is limited to 100 pieces. The other two, limited to 200 pieces, are more representative of the modern-day Hublot and its forays into alternative metals and avant-garde materials, one in titanium, the other in black ceramic. All the cases feature a combination of satin-finished and polished surfaces and are adorned with a “40 YEARS ANNIVERSARY” printed inscription on their sapphire caseback.
The black-lacquered and polished dials, hosting only three faceted hands for hours, minutes, and seconds and an applied “Hublot” and “H” logo at 12 o’clock, are a contrast with the more complex dials of Hublot’s Big Bang models, which helped rocket Hublot to new heights of popularity after Jean-Claude Biver, shortly after taking over as CEO in 2004, introduced them to the collection in 2005. The Classic Fusion collection, from which these limited editions hail, remains alongside the Big Bang (and more recently debuted families like the tonneau-shaped Spirit of Big Bang and the high-complication MP series) as the more understated, dressier alternative, and the 40th Anniversary models are perhaps the purest expressions of that style.
The movement inside the Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary timepieces would also be considered by most to be a substantial upgrade from the quartz calibers in the 1980 watch, at least in terms of luxury. All three models contain the Hublot Caliber HUB1112, a mechanical self-winding caliber built on a Sellita SW300-1 base. The movement runs in 21 jewels, beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz) and holds a power reserve of 42 hours. In keeping with the “disruptive” approach of the original watch, the first to unite a precious-metal case with a natural black rubber strap, all these models feature that same style of strap, albeit one updated with Hublot’s easily adjustable strap-change design and a deployant clasp made of the same materials as the case.
Prices for the Hublot Classic Fusion 40th Anniversary timepieces are $25,000 for the 100-piece edition in yellow gold; $8,300 for the 200-piece version in titanium; and $10,400 for the other 200-piece model in black ceramic. And while it was Biver who coined the phrase “The Art of Fusion” for Hublot’s mission statement 15 years ago, Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe reminds us that the concept of fusion has been at the heart of the brand since the beginning, describing these limited editions as “a brand-new contemporary version that celebrates Hublot’s innovative approach of the last forty years.”