A Brief Encounter With The Surprisingly Subtle Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium
Loads of diamonds, sapphire, ceramic, and carbon fiber cases in all shapes, colors, and (XXL) sizes. Yes, Hublot once again delivered. For Hublot, extravagance is a part of everyday life. The everyday life of the fashion-conscious big spenders who are not afraid to show off their hedonist lifestyle. The very voluptuous, wrist-wrapping MP-13 Tourbillon Bi-Axis Retrograde opened the introduction spectacle at Watches and Wonders. And after that CHF 150,000 watch, a massive transparent block of a watch called the Square Bang Unico Sapphire tickled the senses. Things calmed down quite a bit with the introduction of the modestly sized and subtly sculpted Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium.
The Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium might have been underwhelming for some of the attendees of the Hublot press meeting at Watches and Wonders 2023. Nacho and I, on the other hand, were very pleasantly surprised. While Square Bangs made the rounds, blinding those who were oblivious to the fact that you never directly look at a diamond-set Hublot, a chronograph with a black dial and two sub-dials appeared on the screen. And soon after, the two versions of the watch came our way.
Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium: One with historically correct rubber and the other on an angular bracelet
Hublot’s Classic Fusion collection is the range that stays closest to the original from 1980. The brand Hublot was founded by Carlo Crocco. In French, the brand name means “porthole,” and the watch Crocco gave the world had a bezel that looked like one. Genta kind of did the same before Crocco, but what no one ever did before was pair a gold watch with a rubber strap. While common and completely accepted now, it was shocking and controversial 43 years ago. Now Hublot combines the Classic Fusion — the most introverted range of timepieces in the brand’s portfolio — with the signature design language of sculptor and neo-pop artist Richard Orlinski.
Richard Orlinski has been the best-selling contemporary French artist in the world since 2015, and he has also designed some watches for Hublot in the past. His monochromatic, diamond-cut sculptures of wildlife, for instance, are famous around the world. And the same sharp shapes also define the timepieces that bear his name. But we’re not looking at a big red ceramic watch this time. Instead, we have something quite introverted and toned down. The material that makes up the case and bracelet, for instance, is Grade 5 titanium. Not only is it light, but it also has a subtle gray, blue-undertoned shine. And it shines indeed because there are both polished and micro-blasted surfaces to bring out the distinct Orlinksi shapes.
A 41mm sculpture, slash, timepiece
The 5ATM-water-resistant case has a very wearable and modest size. It’s 41mm in diameter and just 12mm thick. In general, that’s not too bad for a chronograph, and it’s incredibly good for one from Hublot. The movement inside the angular case with the polished, distinguished, dual-register black dial is the caliber HUB1153, an ETA base movement with a Dubois-Dépraz module. You can expect a power reserve of 42 hours from this one.
The Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium comes in two limited versions. There’s the reference 549.NI.1270.RX.ORL23, a limited edition of 500 pieces on a smooth black rubber strap with a steel deployant clasp. The absence of a pattern or even a tiny grain creates a tight and clear, yes, even understated look. The price of this version is CHF 13,900.
Micro-blasted and diamond-cut center links
The version with a titanium bracelet — the reference 549.NI.1270.NI.ORL23 — has a different character. The absence of the black strap creates the look so many are crazy about now, but with a twist. The micro-blasted bracelet with a titanium deployant clasp shows diamond-cut center links that match the shapes of the case in the same way that the arms of an Orlinksi gorilla match the ape’s angular torso. This full-titanium version of the Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski is limited to 250 pieces and has a price of CHF 17,300.
The mix of a sober black dial with a classic two-counter layout and the understated qualities of gray titanium in toned-down Orlinksi shapes creates an aesthetic that’s worth a look. A second look for those who are into the Bvlgari Octo Roma, for instance. Instrumental and functional titanium is used in a sculptural way that’s not over the top. There are plenty of subtle details to enjoy too, such as the shape of the chronograph pushers or the sharp sword-shaped hands. The balanced combination of art and horology — yes, you could call it “fusion” — just works. The Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski Titanium is a sophisticated creature with an artistic flair that you could, believe it or not, wear quite inconspicuously. Watches and Wonders really does live up to its name.
Find out more about the Hublot novelties, like the CHF 90,000 Square Bang Unico Sapphire 42mm you see above, on the brand’s official website.
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