Jean-Claude Biver, the Chairman of Hublot, says The Art of Fusion is a concept so simple that even a child could understand it. In fact, if you ask Biver to explain the concept of fusion that he brought to Hublot more than a decade ago in 2004, he will draw you a picture that could pass off as a child’s drawing. In it, you’ll see a curved line to depict the earth, a tree on top of that line and, under it, some sparkly bits. The tree is a symbol of rubber and, underneath the earth, you’ll find gold. Hublot represents the bridge between the two materials and, according to Biver, the only time that these two materials ever met naturally was at the very beginning, during the Big Bang. The concept of matching gold and rubber wasn’t new; long before Biver came on board, Hublot already had watches with gold cases and rubber straps. But it took a stroke of marketing genius to put a name to the concept and, thus, The Art of Fusion was born.
What started as an unorthodox juxtaposition between an exclusive material like gold with an attainable one like rubber evolved over the years and, soon, Hublot began pushing the boundaries of material science with each new Big Bang. To date, more than 20 different new materials have been introduced into Hublot’s watches; from experimental carbon to magical gold alloys and industrialised cases of sapphire, Hublot even has watches with bezels made from concrete and dials in fabric and leather. The modern evolution of Hublot still seeks to bring together materials that will likely never meet naturally but, more than that, it wants to be the bridge between modernity and tradition. To fuse the classic art of watchmaking with avant-garde ideas. And this constant philosophy of always thinking outside the box, looking beyond conventional norms for inspiration, has led to some interesting partnerships.
Case in point is its association with Ferrari. Sure, the love affair between fast cars and sporty watches is by no means new; before Hublot came around, Ferrari had already moved through the ranks of Swiss watchmakers like Longines, TAG Heuer, Cartier (this one was relatively surprising), Girard Perregaux and Officine Panerai. With Hublot, however, it was different; it wasn’t just another notch on Ferrari’s Italian-made belt as both brands demonstrated a commitment enough to merit the term ‘marriage’. In 2011, Hublot announced the joint decision to become watchmaking partner to Ferrari and where other such partnerships were simply based on tiein products, licensing or sponsorship, Hublot was committed to fostering a 360° collaboration.
In the first two years of this collaboration alone, more than 130 events took place around the globe with Ferrari hosting Hublot and vice versa. They had a common goal: both pride themselves on sportiness, performance, luxury, perfection and attention to detail. With these similar values, it was easy to introduce fans of Hublot watches to Ferrari cars and the other way around, effectively giving each other access to their respective markets.
Of course, watches are quite an intrinsic part of this collaboration. Just as Hublot was involved in both Ferrari and Scuderia Ferrari, displaying its banners on the cars, watches that bore the prancing horse were present from the start. The very first edition of their collaboration timepiece was a beautiful Big Bang Ferrari clad in Hublot’s signature material, Magic Gold. As a demonstration of its commitment to Ferrari, the manufacture even had a watch in tribute to the LaFerrari – the MP-05 – that, to this day, remains the most complicated watch Hublot ever built. It has 637 components for the movement, a tourbillon and a recordbreaking 50 days of power reserve supplied by a whopping 11 barrels. And it didn’t end there. In 2016, Hublot even commissioned an animated movie from the same digital studio that worked on X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man 3 and Transformers for the launch of the MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire – a tribute to the FXX K.
With this track record and this year being the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, something special was bound to happen. At Baselworld 2017, Hublot unveiled a brand-new collection of watches, something it is calling the Techframe. The Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph is an entirely new watch that was conceived the same way a performance car would.
Hublot paid special attention to the ‘engine’ of the watch, treating the HUB6311 calibre manual-winding movement with ruthenium anthracite and offering an interesting tourbillon. Near invisible to the naked eye, it places a small sapphire crystal above the cage that holds the upper part of the tourbillon using a bridge. This gives the complication the aesthetics of a flying tourbillon but maintains the operational stability of a tourbillon with two pivot points. From there, the Ferrari design team, under the leadership of Head of Design, Flavio Manzoni (incidentally, the man behind the design of the LaFerrari), worked extensively with Hublot to give the Techframe a look that is decidedly different from the rest of the watches in Hublot’s portfolio.
The watches come in three variations of materials, including King Gold and titanium, but by far the most interesting is the carbon variant. The intricate patterns on said material comes from yet another new material from Hublot called PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) carbon. Unlike the conventional kind, Hublot uses particularly long carbon fibres for this, resulting in an extremely durable material that is hypoallergenic and has this really fantastic pattern on its surface.
START YOUR ENGINES
With such an important year for the partnership between Hublot and Ferrari, the 2017 collection of the Big Bang Ferrari Unico was designed, in every regard, to remind you of its loud and fast, four-wheeled counterpart. Right off the bat, the minute counter and date window at 3 o’clock jumps out at you. Striking in design, this entire subdial was designed based on the tachymeter of a Ferrari car. Then at 9 o’clock, the seconds counter was shaped to look like an air extractor while the famous Prancing Horse appears at the base of the dial at the 6 o’clock position. Flip the watch on its back and you’ll get a perfect view of Hublot’s Unico movement with a rotor that resembles a fivespoke tyre rim. Another big Ferrari design element that creeped into these watches is a very unique side profile. On the crown side, the case middle features a red line detail that was inspired by the iconic groove on the rear of the LaFerrari. Lastly, the crown guard evokes the characteristic form of the TPE or Turbo Performance Engineer set in the centre of the Ferrari dashboard.