Can Hublot be more versatile than you think?
Hublot has always been disruptive. No debate, boldness is the motto there. Making you fall in love is the essence of this brand. But all this noise belies the true power of the Fusion concept: its creative versatility. Let’s take a closer look at two very different watches that are actually the same, both based on the Classic Fusion Chronograph.
Every year, Dutch retailer Schaap en Citroen presents a special edition Hublot watch made for the Dutch market. If I speak Dutch, I actually mean “Amsterdam” here. Dubbed the Classic Fusion Chronograph Amsterdam Fine Ceramics 45mm, the watch is a follow-up to last year’s Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Special Amsterdam Fine Edition. Before this model, there was a watch called the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Ajax Amsterdam.
The first thing that strikes me is how long all these names actually are. Like someone trying to make a memory game by naming Hublot. But it doesn’t matter! The second thing is more serious: this Classic Fusion chronograph has gone through many iterations. Many of them are trendy.
What are the characteristics of the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph? Over the past few years, we have seen endless changes, showcasing a variety that seems unparalleled in the watch industry. There’s one with a leather dial, in collaboration with Parisian shoemaker Berluti, which is fantastic. A range of fabric dials have been created in collaboration with the Italian independent company Lapo Elkann, one with a concrete bezel or in Classic Fusion Titanium Green (which we also cover in this article). Which begs the question…could the Hublot Classic Fusion be the most versatile watch in the industry?
The two watches we wore on our wrist and in front of the camera were the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph (similarly named so far) in Titanium Green and Amsterdam Fine Ceramics. The latter is actually equipped with a skeletonized movement similar to the Aerofusion series in the Classic Fusion series. While the two watches are similar in style and appearance, they are identical in terms of specifications. So let’s take a closer look, first delving into the history books.
Origins of Classic Fusion
Hublot means porthole, and the name is inspired by an original design by Italian Carlo Crocco, from the Binda Group, better known for the Breil (and Wyler Geneva) brand. In 1980, he created a watch that was completely in sync with the times, maybe even ahead of it. It has a round bezel with screws (hence the porthole reference), an integrated strap and a minimalist design. But most importantly, it has a characteristic that makes it as provocative (and initially unsuccessful) as the Royal Oak was nearly a decade ago.
The MDM Genève Hublot fake watch has a rubber strap attached to the 37mm gold case. Today, you will see many luxury watches using this material, but at the time it was a revolutionary concept. The name they gave it sounds like a poor restaurant description now, but Hublot still uses it: Fusion.
In the early 2000s, Hublot watches changed hands. In 2004, another investor stepped in. During the early tenures of Blancpain and Omega, Jean-Claude Biver, known as the “marketing pope”, bought a large amount of Hublot stock (20% to be exact). Bargaining because the brand wasn’t doing well at the time. In 2008, the remaining shares were acquired by LVMH.
The first thing Beaver did was — surprisingly — make a really big announcement called “The Big Bang.” That watch was inspired by the original Hublot, and Beaver knew how to make it work for him. He embraced the concept of fusion – the most modern aspect of the watch – and started experimenting with it. No matter what you think about Jean-Claude Biver, this guy knows how to create a concept and turn it into gold.
“The main strength of Hublot is our ability to innovate. A talent for thinking outside the box,” Biver once said. The concept of Fusion made it possible for Biver to make his brand disruptive. Because it’s not bound by traditional design norms, he can basically do whatever he wants. Snakeskin dial with titanium case? let’s do it. Jeans with rubber straps? why not? Jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon? Let’s go! Biver creates the ultimate canvas for any modernist fashion trend. That doesn’t make these watches fashion watches, though. Biver knows exactly how to make a brand premium and keep it (and its price) there.
Shortly after he stunned the Online watch world with his big bang, Biver came out with a slightly more understated watch that was closer to a 1980s-era watch. That watch is Classic Fusion.
Classic fusion on the wrist
So, with all that in mind, let’s see what’s on the wrist. Biver turned fusion into the brand’s philosophy, which is perfectly captured in both versions here. At first glance, the Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium Green is a very masculine watch. It has all the unique characteristics of Hublot. Bezel with 6 screws (with H-shaped screw heads), a very large (45mm) case, stylish colors and integrated strap with (this is more important than you think) screws on the bracelet in the case structure. But most importantly, it features a titanium case paired with a rubber bracelet and leather inlays: the fusion that Hublot stands for.
The multi-component sandwich construction of the case tells the same story, combining different finishes with some brushed and some polished surfaces. The sculpted design itself combines many sharp edges with the typical rounded porthole faces. All in all, the Classic Fusion Chronograph Titanium Green should feel like this: it’s a luxury watch for men who aren’t afraid to show off their success, but look more stylish. In case you were wondering, these H-shaped screws are practical: they hold the bezel in place.
The new Schaap en Citroen Classic Fusion 45mm Chronograph Amsterdam Boutique Ceramic is the exact same watch, but completely different. The brushed and polished case is made of black ceramic, and the screws and button edges are made of gold. The fusion concept extends all the way to the strap, which is made of rubber with brown leather inlays and red stitching, because…well, why not? The dial is really the standout here: it’s skeletonized and gold hour markers are applied. Of course, the three St. Andrew’s crosses refer to the flag of Amsterdam.
At this point you might be thinking: Well, that’s a bit much, isn’t it? Well, you might be right. Wearing it on your wrist is a big deal in itself. This is a watch that unabashedly showcases its luxurious pedigree. This is obviously the idea behind it. As with all previous Schaap en Citroen special editions, Dennis Martens, co-owner of the leading jewellery chain, always adds a unique Amsterdam touch to the pieces, making them attractive. This case is a black-brown-gold combination, whereas in the previous special edition, it was a bronze case with a black leather strap with red stitching.
Sports-wise, the Review watch is also similar. The HUB1143 movement is built on an ETA 2892-A2 base with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. The result is an automatic chronograph movement that beats at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. It has a 42-hour power reserve and a date window.
Worn on the wrist, both watches instantly reveal their unabashed masculinity. The Amsterdam edition is bold and luxurious, while the Green Titanium is slightly understated and stylish. Both watches truly do what they were designed to do: exude modern luxury. The two watches perform significantly differently.
For me, 45mm is too big on my wrist, but I can see the appeal of these watches. They’re like that energetic guy in your office, coming in on Monday morning wearing a flashy outfit full of stories from last weekend. They set the tone for the conversation. They are so expressive, you either love them or hate them.