You want a hot take? How’s this: Hublot is crushing rival Audemars Piguet with their new releases in 2019. You heard me. A combination of disappointments from AP (the Code 11:59) along with more of the same (additional iterations of the Royal Oak that only top clients at boutiques will ever see) left me sour following their exhibit at SIHH a few months ago. Hublot, benefiting from low expectations, appears fresh and fun with their new line up of Classic Fusions and that absolutely bonkers rainbow thing that Jan went hands on with here.
So, here we have the Hublot Ferrari GT. Yes, it’s monstrous in size and loud and, well, people will notice this watch. But for a certain person in a certain situation, it’s probably exactly the message you want to send. The Ferrari GT comes in three flavors: Titanium, King Gold, and a super special Hublot only material they’re calling 3-D Carbon, which, naturally, looks and feels like carbon fiber, but exists in three dimensions. At least, I think that’s the technical explanation. I’m not a scientist. You should probably check out Hublot’s website.
Regardless of the case material you choose, you’re looking at a 45mm case diameter, which is definitely big, but not necessarily the absurd giant you were expecting. Nobody will call this watch refined or conservative, but for a big watch, there’s a sleekness to the Ferrari GT that makes sense when you consider the supercar link. Was this developed in a wind tunnel? Probably not, but I think we’ve all seen plenty of chunkier watches.
The design of this watch is meant to sit low on the wrist and be more wearable than a 45mm watch has any right to be, helped by the low weight of the titanium and 3-D Carbon models. The dials are open worked, and the lugs have a cool open design as well, probably the most car like element of the case design.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think “Ferrari” when I look at these, and were it not for the prancing horse at 12:00, I wouldn’t see the connection at all. Realistically, I think the most significant connection is simply the wealth and strength of ego required to throw down for either luxury item.
This watch has a flybackFlyback A flyback function on a chronograph watch, allows the user to reset the chronograph back to zero and start timing again with a single button press (no need to first stop the watch). [Learn More] chronographChronograph A chronograph complication is a feature in a watch that allows the wearer to measure elapsed time in addition to telling the time. It works by having a separate set of gears and levers, called the chronograph mechanism, which is activated by pressing a button or a pusher. The chronograph mechanism starts and stops the chronograph's second hand, which is usually located on the watch's dial, separate from the regular watch hands. The elapsed time is usually displayed on a sub-dial or a register on the watch's dial. [Learn More], and this where I think it makes sense to address some of the general criticisms Hublot has been the recipient of in recent years (really, since the company’s inception). I’ve always been of the opinion that Hublot gets a bad rap. While the watches aren’t generally my style, and the styles are almost happily derivative of iconic watches from other brands, there are pieces in the catalog that deserve attention on the basis of their horology and their crazy materials. This is a brand that does, after all, have an in-house minute repeaterMinute Repeater A minute repeater is a complication in a mechanical watch that allows you to hear the time by activating a chime. It chimes the hours, quarter hours, and minutes on command by activating a slide or a button. The mechanism is based on a set of gongs and hammers that strike the gongs to produce the chimes. The minute repeater is considered to be one of the most complex and difficult complications to manufacture. It is a traditional complication that was used in the past to tell time in the dark or in low-light environments. [Learn More] movement in its arsenal. And it doesn’t cost six figures to own it new, and if you want it used, it’s discount city. My point is simply that if you can get past the “image” of Hublot, there’s value for money with this brand. And getting past the image of any brand, at the high or low end of the spectrum, is something we should all strive for. Buy what you like, and all that.
At this year’s Basel, with the absence of the Swatch Group brands exhibiting, Hublot and other brands in the LVMH stable (as well as plenty of independents) had a chance to grab some headlines. Hublot now stands out as a distinct counterpoint to Audemars Piguet, whose Royal Oak is an often cited inspiration on the Big Bang. Just consider for a moment the tone of the Code 11:59 launch. You’d think AP was introducing a box that that tests your blood for hundreds of ailments with just a pin prick, and not a watch. They were just a few notes too serious.
Hublot, on the other hand, has the heir of not caring even the slightest bit. Their new watches have the Ferrari logo on them, and jewelsJewels Watch jewels are small, synthetic sapphire or ruby bearings that are used in mechanical watches to reduce friction and wear on moving parts. They are typically made from corundum. They are used as bearings for a.o. the pivots to reduce friction. [Learn More] of all colors. They are loud and not very practical, but they make you smile when you look at them. They’re having fun.
I know with every fiber of my being that I’m not a Hublot customer. It’s one of the very few things in life I’m just too conservative for. But I’m glad that this brand exists. There needs to be a watchmaking firm that is unapologetically loud at the very high end. Hublot isn’t alone in this space, of course, but they offer an aesthetic that while not completely unique, absolutely finds a particular customer, and that’s really all they need to do to be successful. Besides, how boring would life be if every high end watch came in the same precious metals?