Yesterday, Blake took you through all the details of Hublot’s latest reinterpretation of their Classic Fusion with the updated Classic Fusion Original. For the Hublot historians out there (are you out there?), this was surely a welcome sight, as it calls back to the earliest days of the brand when a luxury watch on a rubber strap was a truly transgressive idea. We’ve come a long way since then, and so has Hublot. The brand has had ups and downs with the watch community (to the say the least), but in recent years they’ve leaned into experimentation with materials (especially colored ceramics and sapphire) that have gotten the attention of open minded and adventurous collectors and enthusiasts, while making watches like the Classic Fusion Original feel almost sleepy by comparison (sorry, Classic Fusion Original). Hublot’s latest envelope pushing novelties are insane in the way only modern Hublot can pull off, and while they likely won’t find a home in the watch box of any Worn & Wound staffers anytime soon, they’re too crazy not to share.
First up, a watch in the same vein as my beloved Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Purple Sapphire, the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Yellow Neon SAXEM. This tennis ball colored, translucent tourbillon uses the same HUB6035 automatic tourbillon movement as the purple version released last year, and fills out the same enormous 44mm Big Bang form factor, but uses a slightly different synthetic sapphire material in the case construction. SAXEM is an acronym for “Sapphire Aluminum Oxide and Rare Earth Mineral,” and Hublot describes it as an alloy of sapphire with rare earth elements such as thulium and holmium worked into it, giving the material an extreme resistance to damage as well as a consistent color and visual impression from any angle.
SAXEM is distinct in the Hublot catalog from polished and colored sapphire used in watches like the Purple Sapphire Tourbillon released last year. Up until now, however, SAXEM was only made in a deep green shade. This translucent yellow is a first, and would imply that the Hublot materials wizards working behind the scenes have made some kind of tremendous breakthrough. That’s surely quite impressive. On a surface level though (and really, isn’t that the best way to enjoy Hublot?) what we’re left with is a giant, neon tourbillon made largely of glass, and that’s a lot of fun.
The other notable Hublot novelty that caught my attention in their LVMH watch week portfolio is the Big Bang Unico SORAI. SORAI is an organization founded by cricketer Kevin Pietersen, who is also a former Hublot ambassador. The SORAI mission is to protect endangered rhinos from illegal poaching, and this marks the third time Hublot and SORAI have collaborated on a watch. For this edition, they’ve taken the Big Bang Unico chronograph format and given it a unique rainbow-like color scheme meant to resemble a sunset, a reminder that rhinos face their most serious threats in the dark of night. The watch comes with two straps, but I don’t why anyone would wear it on anything besides the rubber strap with a black, orange, and purple camo pattern that matches the dial. I guess you could go for the gray fabric strap if you wanted something more subtle, but that kind of misses the point. I mean, just opt for a Classic Fusion Original if you want to fly under the radar.
I happen to think it’s a flat out beautiful looking watch. The mixture of red, yellow, and purple tones on the dial work really well, and complement the gray ceramic case rather nicely. The subdial at 9:00 features an applique of an orange rhino. Perhaps a bit on the nose, but I’m willing to forgive Hublot here given the cause they are working to support. At 44mm in diameter and 14.5mm thick, this colorful watch is likely to have a ton of wrist presence, and I’m really restraining myself here from making a joke correlating the size of the case to the animal Hublot and SORAI are working to protect.
So, that’s the wild side of Hublot at this year’s LVMH watch week. As a curious Hublot observer for many years, it’s interesting that they now find themselves in this place beyond watch forum fueled derision. Honestly, you don’t see much of that anymore. Instead, the response seems to find itself in a spectrum that runs between a “Hublot’s gonna Hublot” shoulder shrug of acceptance and a kind of gobsmacked admiration. There’s something almost comforting about realizing that the community might have moved on from blind Hublot hate just as the brand is really hitting a creative groove.
The Big Bang Unico SORAI has a retail price of $24,100 and is a limited edition of 100 pieces. The Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Yellow Neon SAXEM retails for $210,000 and is limited to 50 pieces. Hublot