September 19, 2020
by Zach Pina
Before the high-profile collaborations with celebrities, tattoo artists, and sports megastars; before the colorful, on-trend shock drops; and most definitely long before this crazy jewel-encrusted thing, the subversion we’ve now come to expect from Hublot was a whole lot simpler: a rubber strap, paired with a precious metal case. That’s it. Cast against a backdrop of current industry trends around casual luxury (to wit: Rolex jumping the shark with its newest gold Sky-Dweller on an Oysterflex rubber strap), as well as Hublot’s own releases from the last 24 months, the concept might not seem terribly revolutionary, but the watch world four decades ago was a very different place, where mixing precious metals with anything less than a matching precious metal bracelet or crocodile leather strap was a bit of a no-no. Celebrating its own “art of fusion” with that once-rebellious act, Hublot returns to those simpler times with a trio of sleek and limited new Classic Fusion XL watches on the eve of the brand’s 40th anniversary.
Cast in 18k yellow gold and fitted to a black rubber strap, the original Hublot from 1980 exhibited many of the same lines and facets of the new 40th Anniversary edition, but the latter’s been upsized to 45mm, and is no longer a quartz watch — instead, it’s powered by Hublot’s HUB1112 mechanical movement. Let’s not forget that mechanical watches didn’t garner quite the same level of interest in 1980 as they do now among collectors and enthusiasts. Anyway, joining the original yellow gold homage, Hublot is producing two additional references as part of the anniversary capsule that speak directly to the brand’s currently most popular aesthetic: titanium and black ceramic.
As faithful as it may be to the original, this new release is more or less a fully “unplugged” version of Hublot’s existing Classic Fusion, stripped of its dial elements and only available in one case size, while the aforementioned is available in a range of four sizes, running from 33mm up to 45mm. With only the applied “Hublot” wordmark and logo at 12, and the rounded date aperture (with matching date disc beneath) at 3 o’clock, the Classic Fusion XL allows Hublot’s impressive multi-faceted and layered case work and cool strap integration tell the full story — one of a brand best known for its modern maximalism, despite minimalist origins as it sought to bridge the gap between “luxury” and “lifestyle.” And speaking of crossover, with 100 meters of water resistance, it’s absolutely a worthy contender in the currently white-hot luxury sports watch category.
Model: 40th Anniversary Classic Fusion XL
Dimensions: 45mm x 10.9mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: Choose among titanium, ceramic, or 18k yellow gold
Crystal/Lens: sapphire front & back
Movement: Hublot HUB1112
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Strap/Bracelet: integrated rubber with deployant clasp
Price & Availability: Titanium (200 pieces): $8,300 | Ceramic (200 pieces): $10,400 USD | 24k Yellow Gold (100 pieces): $25,200 USD
45mm is probably a touch larger than most collectors would be comfortable with, which is a shame because this is easily one of my favorite Hublot releases to come around in a long time. Sure, it’s not as ‘”fun” as an anodized titanium pink Big Bang, or this murdered-out traveler’s watch produced in collaboration with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, but it feels like it would be a little less out of place in the everyday, and a more future-proof design – certainly a testament to how well the original has aged after 40 years.
The Classic Fusion XL is also a cool reminder that Hublot’s been around for a lot longer than many of us might remember, while distilling the brand’s many calling cards to the very essence and taking us back to a very specific period in the über-conservative watch industry where it simply didn’t take quite as much to shock the world as it does now. Besides, that’s what baguette diamonds are for. You can learn more about the Classic Fusion XL collection at hublot.com.