Earlier this week, I was invited for a media lunch with Hublot’s new CEO, Mr. Ricardo Guadalupe, and their Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Ms. Miwa Sakai, who happened to be visiting Kuala Lumpur on an Asian tour.
In addition to enjoying an excellent steak, I also had the chance to play with and photograph the new pieces introduced at Basel earlier in the year.
I’ve personally found a lot of the brand’s pieces rather lukewarm in the past – it wasn’t the aesthetics that didn’t do it for me, but rather the lack of anything serious under the hood. However, with the recent Masterpieces, the Unico in-house chronograph caliber, and the new collection, Hublot is now begging to be taken seriously – Mr. Guadalupe admits as much, and admits that the focus is now on building up the substance of the brand.
All of the pieces photographed here were powered by in-house calibers, which is noteworthy. Equally noteworthy is the unusual use of materials: gold, ceramics and carbon fiber are nothing unusual these days, but Hublot’s use of them, is.
The new ‘Magic Gold’ material still rates 18k/750 purity, however the remaining 25% of the material isn’t one of the traditional metals alloyed with gold to give it color (nickel, rhodium or copper for yellow, whit eor rose gold respectively) – instead, the gold is fused together with boron carbide under high pressure and injection molded into the final desired shape. The resultant is a material that has the luster of gold, but with hardness of around 1000 Vickers (regular gold is at best 400, similar to stainless steel). It isn’t gold-colored though, but rather reminiscent of matte brass.
Next is carbon fiber – normally, carbon fiber is used in sheet form in the dial, or compressed blocks of fiber and resin substrate that are then cut to the desired shape for the case. Only in the former can you see the weave.
Hublot actually uses laid and woven carbon – similar to F1 cars – so that you see the weave matching the surface contours of the case. I believe this is the first time it’s been done, at any rate, it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen it in a watch.
The Ferrari Chronograph has both the magic gold case, and new in-house Unico chronograph caliber – which has its column wheel and chronograph works on the dial side, similar to the GP movements. All of Hublot’s new watches also have a rather neat strap changing system – pushing the small button on the top of the lugs detaches the straps, which are held in by a metal piece integrated into the upper portion. The only downside of this mechanism is that you can’t use your own straps, and you’re out of luck if you want something a little different.
Next up is the Oceanographic 4000, in two variants – one with the carbon case, one with a regular titanium case and chronograph. Both water resistant to 4000m, with an internal unidirectional dive bezel operated by the protected crown at 2, and a helium release valve at 8. It’s an enormous 48mm, and wears every bit as large as you’d expect. It’s thick, too – about the same thickness as my Reverso GT is wide, actually. The chronograph version has rather neat details on the screw down pusher protectors.
Finally, we have the more wearable pieces – at least for small-wristed folks like me – the Classico Ultra Thin, and the Skeleton Tourbillon, both of which have rather interesting bridge finishing. And even the gears are black – I suppose the designers have to allow a bit more tolerance into the movement to prevent the coating from causing things to bind…
A big thank you to Hublot and The Hour Glass for the invitation.
For the photographically inclined, images were shot on location at the boutique with available light, the Olympus OM-D, and Panasonic-Leica 45/2.8 Macro. Please visit www.mingthein.com for more articles on photography!
By MING THEIN for FRATELLOWATCHES
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