December 12, 2015
by Bilal Khan
While on this point, I want to mention that I know I’ve drawn many comparisons to the Big Bang. Now, I know Hublot was a brand before Jean-Claude Biver, and there are people out there who are exclusively drawn to the older, less brash models. I would venture to say these people are outnumbered by those who were lured into loving the brand by the Big Bang, but for those of you who feel this way, the Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin 42mm “Shiny Dial” watch (hands on here) might be for you. Taking everything about the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium watch and going further, this watch is slimmer (though also 3mm narrower) thanks to the HUB1301 in-house movement and really goes for the Hublot dress watch look. There’s a premium, as the titanium version starts at about $13,700.
Moving onto external competition, let’s start with another watch that will catch people’s attention and has a simple, clean dial that is only made busy by a date window. I’m talking, of course, about the Rolex Datejust II (reviewed here). At 41mm wide, it’s certainly a bit smaller than the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium (as Rolex watches tend to run much smaller than Hublot in general), but it carries the “gravitas” and tradition that is unique to Rolex. Also, you get the in-house 3136 calibre Rolex movement. It’s not the most exciting option out there, but the Hublot Classic Fusion offers a lot of the same visual cues. Notable exceptions are the bezel, with the fluted bezel on the Rolex being a little more formal-looking than the porthole with H-screws on the Hublot. You’ll also give up the trademark Hublot strap look for Rolex’s oyster bracelet. Price for the Rolex Datejust II starts at just around $7,150 for the steel version, so you’re actually saving money when comparing to the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium.
Of course, Panerai must be mentioned as an alternative. One of the most recognizable designs out there, Panerai is akin to Hublot in that it has achieved prominence amongst Swiss watch brands relatively recently. They also have a strong aesthetic sense that is unique to the brand, much like Hublot does. The entry-level Panerai Luminor PAM000 Base Logo watch will run you about $4,500 – way less than the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium. It has a 44mm steel case, and runs on a Panerai OP I movement, which is essentially an ETA 6497 hand-wound movement. If you’re feeling like you want to take it a little further, the Panerai Luminor Submersible Left-Handed Titanio (reviewed here) has that unique bezel and stands out, even for a Panerai. It’s a big 47mm and runs on the in-house Panerai caliber P.9000 automatic movement. That one will run you $11,600, though.
Finally, there is IWC. The brand that has built a marketing strategy centered around appealing to dudes offers a huge range of watches, but for the sake of comparison to the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium, the IWC Ingenieur (reviewed here) is a simple watch that makes a statement. Designed by Gérald Genta, the mind behind the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (a watch that the Hublot Big Bang was heavily influenced by), it has that solid, timeless look of a watch that will stick around through trends and fads. There are in-house movements on some models, but this version has an IWC calibre 30110, which is a modified ETA 2892. Price starts at $6,600 and you’ll be looking at just over $11,000 to get into the chronograph models.
I want to briefly mention a watch that I think presents a real interesting alternative to the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium. The watch I’m talking about is the Hermes Clipper (Ariel discussed this one a while ago here), the Hermes sports watch that comes on a rubber strap and takes “fashion watches” in a direction they seldom go. I think it’s a timeless, sporty, and cool look – a combination that someone in the market for the Classic Fusion may be looking for. The 44mm Hermes Clipper Maxi runs on a Swiss Valjoux 7750 and is priced at just around $7,500.
It is somewhat remarkable that a brand that gained notoriety for a watch as unrestrained as the Big Bang not only produces a piece like the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium, but so clearly takes pride in its production – not simply serving it up as an also-ran, entry-level model. Yes, it’s as much a Hublot as any other model, and yes, you get a great watch. Going back to that price of $8,400 – it’s certainly not a cheap entry to the brand. Rolex and Panerai both allow buyers to experience their brands for several thousands less. But, if you’re sold on Hublot, the Classic Fusion Titanium is a solid choice. hublot.com