October 11, 2022
Although it’s best known among enthusiasts for its defiantly avant-garde designs and cutting-edge materials, Hublot also has a genuine commitment to the world of modern art. Over the years, the brand has collaborated with high-profile artists ranging from Richard Orlinski to Takashi Murakami, but few partnerships have been as lasting or as fruitful as its relationship with American artist Shepard Fairey. Best known for his bold “Obey” iconography and the world-famous “Hope” poster campaign used during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Fairey’s street art-infused style has been the basis for several distinctive Hublot references since 2018. For its latest collaborative design, Hublot brings an aggressive black-on-black look to Fairey’s recurring theme of the mandala. The new limited edition Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey is a sharp, unapologetically bold distillation of Fairey’s street art ethos, and one that should become a coveted piece among Shepard Fairey collectors.
At 45mm-wide and 13.4mm-thick, the matte-black ceramic case of the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey cuts an imposing figure on the wrist, but it’s the finishing here that immediately catches the eye. Although the overall surface is bead-blasted, the bezel and main case body are crisscrossed with an ornate engraved pattern. This sweeping arabesque motif can feel almost chaotic at first glance, but a closer look reveals it to be a seamless continuation of the mandala pattern on the skeleton dial. This holistic pattern gives the design an impressively unified feel and makes a traditionally stealthy blacked-out design into a watch that commands attention on the wrist. The 12 o’clock side of the case body adds an extra layer of decoration, with an engraved ray pattern extending across the case sides and integrated lugs. Underneath this ornate engraving, however, this is the same Aerofusion Chronograph platform as the standard production model and should feel familiar to fans of the brand. Hublot fits this model with a sapphire display caseback, and rates the watch for a somewhat underwhelming 50 meters of water resistance.
The dial of the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey offers an extremely ornate blacked-out pattern but remains solidly legible for a black-on-black skeleton design thanks to intelligent finishing decisions. The repeating floral mandala pattern radiates out from the dial center, with indices and subdial rings appearing to float over gaps in the dial thanks to a lower dial layer in sapphire. Although the main handset visually fades into the background at some angles, with even minor amounts of direct light, the polished surfaces make these faceted batons stand out starkly against the darker backdrop. This extends to the subdial hands as well, but the applied faceted indices are less effective in this regard. With this in mind, the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey is as much about translating Fairey’s art into a wearable form as it is about creating a usable timepiece, and in this regard, the design succeeds brilliantly. The central stack of the handset is obscured by a rendition of Fairey’s famous “Obey” emblem printed onto the underside of the crystal, creating a seamless mandala design that runs from the center of the dial all the way down the case sides. Even the 6 o’clock date display is cleanly integrated into the pattern, with a stenciled skeleton date wheel that preserves the visual depth of the intricate layered mandala.
Hublot equips the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey with the modular ETA-based HUB1155 automatic chronograph movement. While purists may decry the use of a non-manufacture movement at this level, the HUB1155 is a reliable, easy-to-maintain platform that offers a decent if unspectacular 42 hours of power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Hublot’s finishing on the HUB1155 is clean and contemporary, with predominantly brushed bridges and a dynamic signed skeleton rotor. To complete the package, Hublot pairs the watch with an integrated grooved strap in supple black rubber.
With an aggressive black-on-black colorway and an impressively ornate continuous mandala pattern, the limited edition Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey offers a stylishly punchy and aggressive translation of Fairey’s work to the wrist. Only 50 examples of the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey will be made, and the watch is available now exclusively through Hublot’s North American boutiques and the brand’s U.S. e-commerce platform. MSRP for the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph All Black Shepard Fairey stands at $25,900 USD. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.