I was particularly fond of this new watch that debuted at Dubai Watch Week 2021, a limited-edition Hublot meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Known as the reference 521.XC.0571.VR.UAE21 Hublot Classic Fusion Concrete Sand (and sometimes known as the Desert Fusion ), the watch is a living love letter to the region and is sold exclusively through Hublot’s important retail partner, Seddiqi. There are two reasons to really admire this watch, even if you have no affinity or connection with the UAE or Dubai. The first is that the Classic Fusion is attractive. The tan colors mixed with light gray and small black accents are masculine, bright, bold, and fashionable. This is one looker of a Classic Fusion Chronograph. The second reason is wonderful detailing in connecting the materials used in the watch and the region. So, let’s talk about that first.
Dubai is a modern city built on desert sands. To honor that, this Hublot watch has an architectural concrete case and a dial made from actual UAE desert sand. Sand is secured in a layer on the dial and over it is a protective piece of sapphire crystal upon which the text, subdials, and hour markers are applied. The strap, which matches the dial color, is made from camel skin (with a black rubber lining) — a great leather but also a thematic connection to the Middle East region. How fun is that?
This isn’t the first time Hublot has produced Classic Fusion watch cases from concrete. This practice started with two limited-edition watches meant for the New York market. First was the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Concrete Jungle from 2016 (on aBlogtoWatch here), and later, the Hublot Classic Fusion Concrete Jungle New York in 2022 (on aBlogtoWatch here), which is a direct predecessor of this Classic Fusion Chronograph Concrete Sand watch. One major difference is that the Concrete Jungle New York uses a matching concrete dial, whereas the Desert Fusion combines a concrete case with a sand dial.
The Classic Fusion Chronograph case is 45mm-wide and 13.85mm-thick, making it bold but certainly wearable. The case is mostly concrete with other materials, including metal for the bezel screws and the chronograph pushers. Even though this is an eye-catching and large watch, the Classic Fusion Chronograph still presents the “tamer” time of Hublot as among its dressier and more classic (as the name implies) offerings. I think it was a wise move for the brand to go in this direction because the traditional style of the shape helps offset some of the shock of the highly uncommon case and dial material. In that sense, I think Hublot and its retail partner Seddiqi did such a nice job elegantly making a Hublot that is both novel and also offers UAE’s watch lovers a really nice wristwatch to celebrate their country’s 50th anniversary.
Inside the watch is the Hublot caliber HUB1143 automatic chronograph movement, which operates at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve. The movement features two subdial displays allowing for a 30-minute chronograph, as well as the time with a date window positioned above the 6 o’clock hour marker. There is special text in both English and Arabic on the sapphire crystal caseback window to help explain the purpose of this limited-edition piece. The Hublot Classic Fusion Chonograph Desert Fusion/Concrete Sand watch is only officially sold by Seddiqi within its region and is limited to 100 pieces. Price for this Hublot reference 521.XC.0571.VR.UAE21 is $25,200 USD. Learn more at the Hublot website here.