Hublot will be adding a new material to its "art of fusion" parts bin which they call "Magic Gold." Magic gold is a special 18k gold and ceramic alloy which offers the look and feel of 18k gold with the incredibly high scratch resistance of ceramic materials. Many people who currently own gold watches will likely be very excited about this.
Gold is an incredibly popular material for high-end watches marred only by its softness (and perhaps price these days). Watch cases in gold are already not pure gold in order for them to have a slightly tougher alloy. But anyone who has worn an 18k gold watch will testify that the material picks up nicks and scratches with incredible ease.
18k gold often has a little "750" stamped in it. This number indicates the percentage of actual gold per 1000 parts in the material. For gold to be 18k it must be 750 parts per 1000 as I understand it. It is logical to ask whether or not magic gold meets this number or is less given the ceramic compounds. According to Hublot, Magic Gold has the same 750 parts per 1000 of gold as 18k gold - thus making it at least as valuable at 18k gold (with the the scratch resistance).
Pure ceramic cases range in strength as measured on the Vickers scale. As Magic Gold does contain a lot of gold, it is not going to be as tough as the strongest ceramic materials, but it will be much tougher than regular gold. According to Hublot, normal 18k gold is about 400 Vickers in strength. Good steel is about 600 Vickers, and Magic Gold is about 1000 Vickers. Most pure ceramic cases range from about 1,200 - 2,000 Vickers but can max out at 10,000 Vickers. The bottom line is that Magic Gold is more scratch resistant than steel and more than twice as scratch resistant at standard 18k gold. That little fact alone should appeal to a lot of consumers interested in a gold watch because it means that their investment will remain cosmetically pleasing for much longer.
I have to say that when I first heard about this new development from Hublot a few months ago I was pretty excited. This isn't a design gimmick or some hyped partnership. This is a cool new material that has a desirable and useful use in the market. With ceramic more and more being the luxury material of course I like the idea that brands are vetted to making high-end watches that are built to last. Nothing is more painful than putting in a lot of money into a watch, and then having it show cosmetic wear too fast. Also note the Chanel J12 Chromatic watch that makes use of ceramic material with lots of titanium in it (hard and very light).
In 2012 at Baselworld Hublot will be releasing a new collection of watches that utilize Magic Gold. I don't know how much it will cost compared to standard 18k gold, and whether or not Hublot will be replacing all of its current gold watches with Magic gold. I anticipate that it will have a premium associated with it for at least a few years. Wait until closer to March 2012 for more Hublot Magic Gold watch products.