February 2, 2023
by Ariel Adams
One of the things we love about Hublot is that watch releases are not always what they seem. Rather than simply debuting another iteration of the Hublot Classic Fusion X Murakami collaboration watch, the Swiss watchmaker and the revered Japanese artist decided to try something new (again). Hublot and Mr. Takashi Murakami started their formal relationship in 2021 with an all-black Hublot Classic Fusion X Murakami timepiece, which was later followed by an even more spectacular sapphire version with a spinning rainbow gem-set spinning Murakami happy flower (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). The next product collaboration with Mr. Murakami is not for a new limited-edition product, but rather 13 unique Hublot X Murakami Classic Fusion black ceramic watches. To buy them, you’ll need to collect some NFTs.
Twelve of the 13 unique watches that are part of this latest Hublot collaboration will not be debuted until Watches & Wonders 2023 (in late March). I can guess what they are, but they haven’t been announced yet. What is being debuted today is the thirteenth and most exclusive of the watches, which is, essentially, a rainbow version of the original Hublot Classic Fusion Murakami black ceramic watch. Instead of the black sapphires, the spinning, smiling Murakami flower on the dial is decorated with a rainbow-colored assortment of precious and semi-precious stones. This is very much a combination of first and second Hublot Classic Fusion Murakami collaboration watches.
My suspicion is that the 12 other unique watches will have the same 45mm-wide black ceramic Classic Fusion case and specially designed spinning happy flower in the middle. Rather than have a rainbow-style assortment of colors, I believe each will focus on one color of stone (such as red, yellow. green, purple, blue, etc…). The watches do not have base Swiss Made movements but rather a version of Hublot’s in-house UNICO automatic movement, which operates at 4Hz with about three days of power reserve. You can admire the movement through the caseback, and I think it is nice to see this serious movement being used when only hour and minute hands are necessary.
While the hour and minute hands operate normally, behind them, the flower petal arrangement spins in circles with changes in gravity similar to how an automatic rotor might rotate around when the watch is moved on your wrist and gravity pulls a weighted side down. Even if the dial animation is simple, it is still skillfully executed and visually interesting. Now, how would you buy one if you wanted one of these 13 watches?
Here is where things start to get somewhat complicated. You need to own particular NFTs in order to have an opportunity to try to purchase one of these new Classic Fusion Murakami watches. Hublot readily admits this is a novel approach, and the brand is actively trying to create value for different clients — like folks who are deeply involved in the world of NFTs — who may want to celebrate their hobbies together with a product and challenge like this latest exclusive set of Hublot x Murakami Classic Fusion ceramic watches.
I don’t claim to know much about the NFT trading platform website called OpenSea. It uses its own vocabulary, but it is among the more popular places to purchase and trade the unique digital assets we now often refer to as “non-fungible tokens” (or NFTs). To purchase one of the twelve non-rainbow Hublot Classic Fusion Murakami pièce unique model watches, you must first own one of the 324 original Hublot x Murakami NFTs that were originally issued in 2021. You can buy or trade for one of those tokens. If you have one, then it apparently allows you to have a chance to purchase one of the 12 main new unique Hublot watches.
Each of the 12 new Classic Fusion Murakami watches also comes with an accompanying NFT. Someone needs to collect all 12 of those NFTs (through trading, purchasing, and negotiation) in order to have a right to purchase the thirteenth pièce unique watch, which is this rainbow version of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami black ceramic. Hublot will wait a year, after the main 12 unique watches are sold, for someone to collect all the NFTs (they can be traded without the physical watch they depict). That period of time is meant to allow a really motivated collector to get all 12 of those 13 new NFTs. Provided someone completes this mission, they will be able to purchase the rainbow version of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami black ceramic watch. If no one purchases the watch after that year period, then Hublot has stated it will auction off the thirteenth black ceramic Classic Fusion Murakami via auction (with the proceeds going to charity).
In a future hands-on piece, I will try to go into more detail on the Classic Fusion Murakami Rainbow watch itself, as well as more pieces in this interesting 13-watch set. Mr. Murakami in general is an interesting person whose own popularity as a luxury thought leader is linked to Hublot’s parent company LVMH. Doing some collaboration products with Louis Vuitton, the work of Mr. Murakami reached more people, especially outside of Japan and the traditional design community. There are a lot of answers yet to be learned about who will get these watches, if “games with NFTs” truly make an impact for even niche parts of the watch consumer community, and if existing NFT enthusiasts will play along and how quickly a success the collection is. The Hublot x Murakami Classic Fusion ceramic watches will be accompanied by an official retail price of $50,000 USD and they will only be available to those who own one of the original Hublot x Murakami NFTs. Learn more at the Hublot watches website here.