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Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Welcome to the third installment in our Cost of Entry series, where we go hands-on with the most affordable, entry-level watches from leading luxury watch brands to see what you get for your money when “entering a brand.” In our first article, we looked at Rolex and the Oyster Perpetual, followed by the Panerai Luminor PAM000 Base Logo watch. Now it’s time to see what the most affordable Hublot has to offer with the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium watch.

For a little background about the brand, ever since Jean-Claude Biver (following a series of successes at Omega and Blancpain) took the helm at Hublot in 2004, the brand’s Big Bang watches have been a massive hit. Countless iterations and celebrity fanboys have positioned Hublot among the most popular high-end watch brands out there. The Big Bang is probably what most people think of when they imagine a Hublot watch, but it’s not the only game in town for someone interested in the brand. However, the perception isn’t for undue cause – back in 2005, when the Big Bang as we know it today came out, it did exactly what its name suggests by having a wildly popular release that brought the ailing brand back to life – in a big way. That being said, you can get that Hublot experience without opting for this model, but rather going for the more demure Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium. Offering luxury watch buyers something different and more “contemporary” than a lot of its similarly priced Swiss peers, Hublot has not shown any signs of slowing down; and it’s possible to enjoy the brand for less than you might imagine.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

What sometimes gets lost or overlooked is the fact that Hublot was, indeed, a brand before JCB and they produced watches (and continue to do so) that are not the Big Bang or an offshoot of it. Drawing inspiration from the early Hublot watches from the 1980s, the Hublot Classic Fusion takes a step back from the busy, bold, and brash Big Bang and offers something (dare we say?) discreet. At 45mm wide with a simple date window, it’s unfussy, easy to read, and pretty good-looking, in my opinion.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

The debut of the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium watch came in 2010. It’s interesting to note that it came out five years after the Big Bang – a sign that Hublot knew that there is a market out there for people who love the classic “porthole” look, but want something a little slimmer and less busy. Do you get the full “Hublot” experience with the Classic Fusion? Perhaps you would expect that to be a more difficult-to-answer question but… I would say yes! Yes, because you can see and feel that this watch’s DNA is pure Hublot. Plus, I quite appreciate the fact that it isn’t like every other Hublot out there, as it actually kind of stands out among the numerous iterations and takes on the Big Bang.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

The question that comes to mind when further thinking about the full Hublot experience is, can you get the “real” feel on a non-sports watch? The rubber strap, the chronograph, and thick case are hallmarks of the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium’s bigger sibling. Here, we have a 45mm case with a simple crown and muted matte black dial, a date window, Rhodium-plated hands and appliqués, along with two logos (the seconds hand also has the Hublot logo). Furthermore, it’s on an alligator strap, though you could swap that aspect of it and go for the rubber. It’s probably also the best watch the brand offers for wearing with a suit, as it’s slim enough to sit under a sleeve – something you can’t really say about the Big Bang.

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Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Don’t get us wrong though: plenty of the key Hublot DNA design elements are shared between the Hublot Big Bang and the Classic Fusion. The faceted lugs and all the more importantly that porthole look with the bezel design featuring six “H” screws helps the “brand look” fall right into place. The latter is a trait that I personally don’t dislike but I can see bothering others is the fact that the screws do not line up perfectly and can point any which way. To me, it adds a level of personality and wabi-sabi (finding beauty in “imperfections”). It’s not the flashiest out there, but the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium sits comfortably with the brand.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Moving on from looks and design, the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium’s movement is the HUB1112, which is a modified Sellita SW300 that provides the date display and has 42 hours of power reserve. So, you’re not getting an in-house movement like you would with some of the pricier models, like the Big Bang UNICO (hands-on here). Nevertheless, the Sellita SW300 is a solid movement and, considering we are looking at an entry level model here, even the staunchest in-house movement snob would have to begrudgingly accept that fact.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

The clear case back is handsome, and there’s no risk of confusing this watch with another brand. The words “Hublot Geneve” are engraved in the titanium ring surrounding the sapphire crystal. Then, you’ve got the brand name skeletonized and  in black in the winding rotor, and also the brand logo engraved onto a movement plate. For a look of complete solidness, you see the screws go from the front on the bezel through to the case back.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Getting to the name “Classic Fusion,” what exactly does “fusion” refer to? Victims of the 1990s fusion cuisine trend will always have a visceral reaction to the word, but Jean-Claude Biver was adamant that his watches must be a fusion of material and elements. Rubber, ceramic, titanium, gold, etc… What we’re looking at with the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium is less of a mix of highly unusual materials as was the case with, say, this Texalium piece (hands-on here), and more the result of a conservative watch dreamt up by a boisterous mind. The end result? It’s a watch that is bold, but refined; elegant, but still pretty tough. The more you think about it, the more the name “Classic Fusion” makes sense.

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

Cost Of Entry: Hublot Watches Featured Articles

A Hublot Big Bang UNICO

Since this is a cost-of-entry article, how much does it cost to join the club? Well, the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium Ref.511.NX.1171.LR (the one you see in these photos), starts around $8,400. This is a very busy price point, with a lot of brands providing competition. It should be mentioned that this is for the 45mm version, as we felt that was the model most Hublot buyers would seriously be looking at. You can technically spend less and still get a Hublot, there’s the 33mm Classic Fusion Titanium that houses a quartz movement and retails for $4,200, the 38mm with automatic movement costs about $7,200, and the 42mm is $7,800. And, just to get it out of the way, if you want to get a Big Bang, you’re not even close, as those start at just over $20,000. Now, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some specific pieces from the competition.

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  • Almost everything I dislike about a Hublot Big Bang is missing here. Which is a great start. But the price is still silly for a steel watch powered by an ETA 2892 clone. Even at half the price it would not be a bargain. Too bad, it really not that bad looking at all but priced like a watch with an in-house caliber from a truly great brand. At best it only alludes to being an AP Royal Oak with an industrial movement at an Omega or Rolex price. Something just does not add up right here.

  • ??????

    Entry (most simple) Hublot is actually the best Hublot watch ever. They didn’t do even a single step in right direction from this very starting point. Lots of tasteless, ugly and even uglier watches coming one after another. The more “luxurous” means more horrible in the word of Hublot. This one looks MUCH more refined and well designed. However, the pricing is ridiculous: ETA2892-clone with horrible finishing, with rough edges of “HUBLOT”. 8400$ – they must be joking.

  • ??????

    Rotor execution looks like Chinese fake. Is this really 8,400$ watch?..

    • ??????

      Davosa Vanguard was recently sold on Massdrop for 500 something and has same movement.

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        So? Where is the prestige of the Big H? Does this watch scream NBA player lifestyle like a Hublot does? No. That’s a big part of the $7000 premium for this watch! LIFESTYLE. You are breathing the same rarefied air as elite athlete celebrities! A bargain!

        The HO.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      Pffft! It is equisite in its brash rawness! Something only Hublot could pull off!

      • ??????

        I see… it is brutal like unshaved NBA players organically bound to Biver Hublot.

  • IanE

    Not a bad basic design (for Hublot), but the build quality looks pretty poor based on these photos. And surely that price can’t be right – did you mean $2,400? I thought JCB wanted to sell watches at reasonable prices!

    • JosephWelke

      That’s regarding TAG Heuer, not Hubert.

      • IanE

        I stand (or sit actually) corrected – ridiculous price anyway!

  • Looking at that Big Bang Unico, have you noticed what they are doing with the Carrera?

    • ??????

      You are right: from the first glance I thought its new Biver’s TAG Heuer. Surprised how similar they look for me.

  • Marius

    In my opinion, this is a real and proper luxury watch. I mean, with Patek, JLC, or IWC, at least you are getting a good movement, nice finishing, and a solid fit&finish. With this Hublot, however, you are not getting anything. It has the cheapest mechanical movement available, and a design that copies the Royal Oak. Now, this is what I call the ultimate luxury: being able to pay $8400 for absolutely nothing.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      What you are getting, sir, is the chance to wear a Big H on your wrist and breathe the same rarified air of my elite NBA superstar pals, knowing that you both wear the same brand! This watch is a complete bargain!

      The HO.

    • iamcalledryan

      It’s far from “absolutely nothing”. It’s amazing how Hublot is able to trigger blindness in certain watch lovers. I mean, like it or hate it, Titanium, Rhodium plated hands and markers, and a Gator strap are not nothing. They are way off the price, and the movement is not going to impress a person that cares about movements, but that’s it.

  • DanW94

    Probably my favorite offering from Hubot. The H-screws on the bezel coupled with the simple matte dial give it a handsome and masculine look without being steroidal like the Big Bang. But just because it’s your entry level offering doesn’t mean you get to trot out a simple movement and then ignore it. Also, keep in mind, you’re not going to have to pay that price (Jomashop has them discounted) but even with a heavy discount, the cost to join the Hublot club is to much for me.

  • BNABOD

    take the ublow out on the dial, change it to what some would call average Swiss brands like Swiss Army or Davosa or Epos… then charge half 4K and it would be an uproar. Even though this is the only restrained ublow at 45mm it is no small potatoe so it does not fit the “with a suit” type watch. not sure what the point of a watch like this is aside from saying I own a ublow. suspect most buyers do not know the difference of in house vs SW so probably why they sell at outrageous prices. not everyone knows said movements are used in watched 1/10th the price.

  • Shinytoys

    I can actually see what time it is! I know the Marque makes fine time pieces, but they sure can be busy…

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    Exquisite rawness in the movement as only Hublot can pull off! A complete bargain price for one of the greatest of brands that all my closest and most intimate pals in the NBA cherish! I would say it’s a little size-challenged, shall we say, and might wear small on my full 5 1/4 inch wrist. And my only other complaint is that there is no charm in trying to tell the time! Now how is an elite athlete going to make the traditional Hublot jokes with this watch? As for not being an in-house movement, well my pal Ralph Lauren cleared up how silly and unnecessary that was a while back! Speaking of which, Hublot should offer a wooden bezel reference for this watch.

    The HO.

    • Marius

      My distinguished colleague, I must say I agree with you on the matter of the movement. In my opinion, this caliber is much to exquisit for the avarage Hublot wearer. I would have preferred Hublot used the very same movement Panerai implemented in their world-renowned 318 model. That is a prime example of raw sophistication.
      Regarding Ralph Lauren, I am still waiting for that Interview ABTW promised. Its true that they probably won`t be able to speak directly to Mr. Lauren, as Hodinkee did, but maybe they could interview the mansion maids or gardener.

  • egznyc

    Well look at that: Hublot can show at least some constraint when they want to. But it’s just too big for a dress piece, though they clearly skimped on something that would’ve made more sense for this design: there’s no lume (!), even though the baton markers and hands look like they were supposed to have luminous paint inserted. So maybe more like a formal piece, except it doesn’t fit the design at all.

    But the price – the PRICE! – is outrageous. For this titanium watch with a basic movement and basic finishing, I suppose they think they’re in the same league as REAL manufactures that do it all in-house AND actually put in the effort to decorate the movement. They’re not, but the fools who want a Hublot because it’s a Hublot will buy it anyway.

  • iamcalledryan

    It’s fine; they are definitely stretching the brand goodwill in the pricing, but I much prefer to look at this dial over some of the others.

    I personally don’t dislike the big bang, with all the crazy colour and material iterations, I am sure there is one in there just for me – I just have a few other models above it on my list!

  • Mark

    Another great “Cost of Entry” article! I’m looking forward to the next one.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Agree.
      They are quite humorous.

  • Omegaboy

    If it weren’t for the weird strap holders on the case, I could like this watch a lot.

  • Michael Kinney

    Meh. An AP RO knock-off with a generic moment for the price of a Rolex? No thanks. Not even if I actually liked Genta.

  • wallydog2

    It pains the inverse snob in me, but I quite like this Hublot. Further, it’s good that smaller sizes are available. It opens up the market for those of us who are not beefy New Zealand rugby players and/or those who don’t have the swagger and bulk (or $) to carry off wearing Big Bling.

  • TechUser2011

    “Finally, there is IWC. The brand that has built a marketing strategy centered around appealing to dudes offers a huge range of watches”

    What a pointless statement. A company that sells men’s watches has a marketing strategy centered around appealing to men. What is the world coming to?

    What’s next? A company that sells women’s clothes has a marketing strategy centered around appealing to women?

  • This Hublot is gorgeous and an excellent dress watch. I love the stark, crisp dial and the screws give it a touch of masculinity. It looks like the strap could only be changed with a Hublot strap, but then I guess if you can pay $8,000 for a watch, a $?? expensive strap would be no problem.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Let me just reiterate what everyone else is saying…………” entry level ” ………..you having a laugh ?

    • The point of this series is to highlight how little (yeah, that’s relative) you can spend to get “into” a given brand. I’m glad they are doing it as sometimes a watch is shown that I either did not about or it’s at a price point well below what I associated with the brand. Still does not change my perception of the value proposition (or lack thereof) for this particular watch. Cheers.

  • cg

    Hublot satisfying the serfs? Coming down from On High to rub us with wishful Celebrity and another con job? Don’t think I’ll partake in this flim flam.

  • I_G

    That movement looks more like Poljot than Hublot. For $8,400 it’s a bargain.

  • word-merchant

    That tiny movement looks very lonely in that big case. I’ll pass.

  • Ulysses31

    It looks so cheap and nastily finished. On the plus side, it doesn’t make me want to rip my eyeballs out of their sockets.

  • commentator bob

    For the kind of person looking for a watch with this design the Tudor North Flag offers much better value and build quality.

    For someone looking for an LVMH watch an automatic Tag with the same movement is much cheaper, and a manufacture Zenith El Primero is the same money.

  • commentator bob

    The ironic thing is that the less cartoonish a Hublot is the more it looks like the complete AP Royal Oak knock-off that it is.

  • For $8,000 you can’t align the bezel screws in a visually pleasing manner, Hublot? This is one brand I’ll be proud to never own.

    • commentator bob

      The bezel “screws” are not even screws. They are nuts into which the caseback screws screw.

      If they were screws that screwed into the case there would be some precision required to index the threading.

      But since they are nuts all that is necessary is holding the bezel nuts in place properly while the caseback screws are torqued.

      That the Hublot assemblers cannot manage that is concerning.

      Any watch repairman with the Hublot indented tool should be able to fix the top nut alignment.

      Of course AP was smart enough to use hex shaped nuts that fit into hex shaped bezel indents, so alignment always remains correct and the bezel holds the nuts in place while the caseback screws are torqued.

  • Well, I think it’s a nice looking watch. But it doesn’t look $8,000 worth of a nice looking watch.

    I’m not an expert, having only been on the blog here for a few months, but I do read and pay attention to the comments from other people as well as the content of the articles themselves. Having said that… you want *how much* for this watch? There is no part of this watch that would inspire me to spend that kind of money on it.

    Still, I think it looks pretty good.

    • Rich

      I completely agree. It looks remarkable but, for me, it’s impossible to justify the price tag. You can still find highly aesthetic watches without even paying $100 on websites such as http://www.modern.exchange . Sure the quality won’t be the same but I feel most people don’t have the bank account to justify spending nearly $10,000.

      What would you recommend in the range of $1,200-$1,500?

  • Saim Afzal

    Well, I liked the build quality and the bolder utilization of new materials and bought this piece.

    Thank you Bilal for this entry.

  • Steve chernick

    Though this post is 2 years old, I felt the need to comment, EIGHTY FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for a dog, ABSOLUTE DOG of a movement. I’m sorry, the SW300 isn’t a ‘workhorse’, it’s a half dead mentally challenged crippled mule. What a ripoff.

  • Zane Domke

    $8000… For a Sellita?! WTF!!!

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