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‘Art of Fusion’ at Baselworld 2018

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This March, Hublot presented the Big Bang Unico Red Ceramic aka the Red Magic, with a vibrantly coloured red ceramic case. Fashion and art have also shaped two new models. We visited Hublot at Baselworld 2018.

Listening to the speeches of Jean-Claude Biver, board member and minority shareholder of Hublot, is always entertaining. Many people talk about the passion for horology – he clearly raises it in the audience as he goes on with his overwhelming style. Messages are made clear just like the strategy and positioning of the companies he works with.

‘Please be surrounded by better people than yourself’ – he said at the press conference in Basel and although this is no news, unlike elsewhere, his ego does not sabotage the implementation.

One such man is Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot and Mr Biver’s loyal collaborator, who introduced the highlights of 2018: the Big Bang Unico Red Ceramic with its bright red ceramic case, a result of four years of development; the Big Bang Sapphire Tourbillon with transparent case, dial, strap and tourbillon movement (the mainplate is in transparent polycarbonate); the 42mm Unico models that feature the new thinner calibre HUB1280 (6.75mm thickness); and a fusion masterpiece inspired by the La Ferrari watches in a Big Bang style, the Big Bang MP-11 in ultra-light carbon.

I’d like to show you some of them closer and highlight a few hidden treasures.

Big Bang Unico Red Ceramic

The giant Big Bang collection encompasses over one hundred models. For the diversity of the line, and because of its general dimensions, the Big Bang is an infinite playground for Hublot. From the more reserved ‘I wanna make serious business today’ watches through the ‘Ferrari-rollin’’ style straight to the ‘rooftop-partying’ you may find timepieces to match all kinds of tempers or creeds…and wallets, of course. One of the most exciting Big Bang novelties this year is the ‘Red Magic’, aka the Big Bang Unico Red Ceramic.

Ricardo Guadalupe declares, ‘Hublot’s strength resides in its very clear identity – the art of fusion – this unique ability to create timepieces which combine tradition and innovation’. The novelty lives up to this statement by demonstrating the company’s ceramic colouring technique on its entire surface disguising the flyback chronograph Unico HUB1242 manufacture movement. Hublot communicates it as the first vibrantly coloured ceramic, which is also harder than many other ceramics.

Ceramic hardness measurements are generally measured using a Vickers hardness test. In this test a diamond indenter is pressed into a polished surface under known loading conditions and the size of the indentation is related to the hardness of the material.

High-tech ceramic is not an easy material to work with. It has several advantages, like scratch- resistance, lightness and its non-allergenic nature. Thanks to the continuous R&D its production is much cheaper and more efficient than it was a few years ago. However, colouring it especially with really bright colours is difficult. Colour pigments added to the ceramic base powder can weaken the structure of the ceramic, which is generally a very hard yet brittle material. This is one reason why manufactures experiment with mixing ceramic with titanium for example (to make Ceratanium for example).

During the production these colour pigments can burn quickly. The bright colour is now achieved through a fusion of pressure and heat, sintering the ceramic without burning the pigments. The result is this vibrant red watch with a 45mm case and a matte red-black skeleton dial. It comes with a black and red lined structured rubber strap and in a 500-piece limited edition.


Classic Fusion Chronograph Berluti Scritto

Let it be sports, music, art or fashion Hublot has formed a variety of partnerships and collaborations. One that I find particularly interesting is with Berluti, one of the most sophisticated Parisian shoemakers around. The famous patina of the Venezia leather covered the watch in 2016 for the first time. It coincided with Berluti’s great return under the artistic direction of Alessandro Sartori whose five-year tenure made the company grow from €30 million in 2011 to more than €100 million in 2016.

Originally a bespoke footwear brand, the Parisian house offers a full range of menswear including distinguished accessories. Mr Alessandro Berluti (born in 1865 in Senigallia, Italy) founded the company in 1895. Berluti creates shoes in a wide array of colours with a special patina, which have been a trademark of the House ever since. An important feature is the Venezia leather, first created by Olga Berluti (from the fourth generation in the Berluti family) by using natural and mineral tanning. Similarly to Hublot, Berluti is a subsidiary brand of LVMH. It is interesting to know that LVMH just announced that Haider Ackermann is stepping down as artistic director of Berluti and confirmed that the Belgian designer Kris Van Assche is taking over at the helm.

The timepieces in this collaboration clearly target a different segment than many other Hublot watches. The first Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti was in tobacco brown leather. Then came the chronograph versions in black ceramic with a black leather dial and another in warm gold with a brown dial. The models employed Berluti’s famous Venezia leather for both the straps and the dial. This year Hublot presented the Classic Fusion Chronograph Berluti Scritto in Bordeaux and Ocean Blue.

Applying leather on the dial requires a special technique. Leather has an innate moisture content, which has to be removed before enclosing it within the sapphire crystal. On the new models, Hublot combined the leather dial with lighter chronograph counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The HUB1143 self-winding chronograph movement is inside.

The blue version has blue Berluti patinated Venezia Leather with Scritto décor, embossed indexes and a titanium case. The Bordeaux is combined with the so-called King gold case. This is an alloy of Hublot with a more intense red colour than the traditional 18K gold 5N. ‘To achieve this result, the metallurgists increased the percentage of copper and added platinum in order to stabilise the colour over the years and neutralise oxidation’.

The Ocean Blue is limited to 250 pieces, the Bordeaux to 100. The box of both models includes a bespoke Berluti leather care set, too.


Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski

At the end of 2017, Hublot announced a ‘watches-meet-contemporary art’ partnership with Richard Orlinski. This is not the first time that the company has sailed into artistic territory; they had co-designed pieces with the Swiss designer Maxime Buchi (the 200-piece limited-edition Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu), Brazilian Romero Britto (Classic Fusion Enamel Britto) and Chinese visual artist Chen Man in 2017 (Big Bang One Click 39mm Chen Man limited to 100 pieces). All these are in line with Hublot’s philosophy – ‘The Art of Fusion’.

Richard Orlinski is a French contemporary artist highly influenced by Pop Art. He studied at the National School of Fine Arts in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He renders popular objects and shapes such as skulls, fashion items or animals as polished, monochromatic totems made from industrial materials. He likes to cooperate with cool brands, like a capsule collection with the edgy French fashion House, The Kooples or make big installations, like a larger-than-life gorilla and dinosaur in the luxurious Courchevel resort.

The Hublot Classic Aerofusion Chronograph Orlinski was inspired by the angular sculptures of the artist. It has 45mm case and the Hublot Caliber HUB1155 self-winding chronograph movement thicks inside. The #ClassicFusionOrlinski is now available in titanium, blue ceramic, black ceramic, king gold and diamond-set versions.


Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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