April 16, 2015
by Rob Nudds
Exclusivity breeds desire, or so it seems Hublot are hoping. The Classic Fusion “Chronograph Aerofusion” model is a collaboration with the Watch Gallery and only 25 will be made. It is the fifth collaboration of its kind and the second with Hublot, following the dual release of their Classic Fusion Automatic and Chronograph models last year. As well as Hublot, Bremont, Zenith, and Bell & Ross have had the Watch Gallery treatment. So why did LVMH-owned Hublot get another call so soon? Maybe it has something to do with the sheer size of Hublot watches and how well they become a canvas for design.
Hublot can be a tough brand to figure out. The watches are styled to grab your attention, with a great emphasis on presence and color. But every so often they bring out a timepiece that has a subtler tone and it really works. If you’re a classic dress watch fan and extol the virtues of a Jaeger LeCoultre or a Vacheron Constantin above all others, you might find even the most discreetly designed Hublot a mechanical monstrosity. But if you’re a fan of modern, edgy sports watches that respectfully nod to the past, the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Aerofusion might whet your appetite.
I must admit I was a huge fan of the Hublot Big Bang when it first came out, not long after I’d started my career as a watchmaker (for an extremely divisive incarnation, check out this article here). It was one of the pieces that seemed to shake up the standards I’d associated with haute horlogerie from the outside looking in. Over time, my love for the brand and their chunky cases has waned, but I am very taken by the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Aerofusion because of the touches the Watch Gallery have added to make it stand out from the crowd.
The display case back is nice to see. Hublot sometimes cover their movements with decorated case backs, which is a source of frustration for those who like to see a quality Swiss movement beating away. What we have here is the Hublot Calibre HUB1155. It is similar to an ETA 2892 base calibre with a chronograph module slapped on top. In this instance, the movement looks very handsome as it is revealed in flashes by the nicely decorated auto-weight.
Featuring a cut-out “Hublot” in stark black lettering, the auto-weight is one of my all-time favorites. It is an incredibly bold and blunt attempt at branding. Some might think the result a little brash, but I like it for its identifiability and for the way the cut-outs in between the letters allow us to see more of the movement and from a different perspective than we may be accustomed.
The partial skeletonization of the rotor also matches well with the dial, which features black, blue and rhodium-plated elements. The date ring is particularly neat. It’s quite rare for the date ring itself to be an exciting component, but this one is really cool. It is totally exposed, so that all the numbers, which are integral parts of one skeletonized ring, are visible at once. The date can be read at 6 o’clock, when the ring passes over a subtly inserted slither of steel, against which the skeletonized number stands out. The hour markers are rhodium plated and overlap the edge of the skeletonized date ring. They protrude from a black chapter ring that features individual minute markers colored with blue lacquer. These markers match the color of the two blue rings of the sub-dials at 3 (chronograph minute counter) and 9 (running seconds hand) o’clock.
The hour, minute, and sub-dial hands are nicely bevelled and rhodium plated, while the chrono-seconds hand is covered with matching blue lacquer. The sub-dial hands in particular are pleasantly substantial and their proportions marry well with those of the hour and minute hands. By using a transparent disc to carry many of the apparently “floating” dial elements, Hublot have created an optical illusion you might find in a classic mystery watch.
This multi-layered dial is viewable through an anti-reflective sapphire crystal which is framed by a ceramic bezel. Despite its bulk, the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Aerofusion is not a heavy watch by virtue of it being crafted from titanium. The 45mm case that features contrasting surface finishes, alternating between high polish and satin, catches the light well, as does the polished titanium crown at 3 o’clock.
One element of this new design I personally don’t enjoy, is the strap. The strap is a combination of ‘semi-matte’ black alligator leather, sewn on top of a black rubber base with bright blue stitching. I appreciate the use of rubber when it comes to water immersion (something this limited edition can handle to a depth of 30M), but this was, for me, a stylistic strike-out. It’s just too indecisive. Full rubber would have worked and given the watch a very tool-like appearance; similarly, going for a traditional alligator strap with a duller, more reserved topcoat could have added a dash of class to proceedings. This hybrid is, although not a bad idea, something of which I am not a fan of in this instance. It does, however, feature the classic Hublot deployant buckle, which is a solid, reliable and stylistically congruous as ever.
If you want to buy one of these very limited watches, you will be able to pick one up at Selfridges on Oxford Street, The Watch Gallery’s Westfield London location, Selfridges at Manchester Exchange Square, and online at the Watch Gallery. You will then be contacted by a member of the Watch Gallery’s concierge team to discuss your purchase and to be informed of the unique issue number that will be engraved into the case back of your watch (the numbers are issued in sequence on a first-come, first-served basis). Retailing at a price of £12,500, the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Aerofusion is an attractive and novel addition to the Watch Gallery’s ever-growing list of collaborative timepieces. hublot.com