Hublot and Berluti's Latest Collab Pairs Exceptional Materials With Arresting Design
There are two ways to win big in watch design. First, confirm people’s expectations. Second, utterly confound them. Watch brand Hublot is definitely in the second category. It has maintained a disruptive position in high-end watches ever since it launched in 1980. Founder Carlo Cracco’s first watch, the Fusion, was extremely modern in looks with a high-low vibe. It paired solid gold cases with natural rubber straps for the first time in a watch, a polarizing move and the first of many that didn’t always sit comfortably with the prevailing and rather traditional sense of Swiss luxury.
When the watch industry’s favorite maverick, Jean-Claude Biver, joined the brand as CEO in 2004, he took that mold-breaking DNA established back in 1980 and supersized it. In 2005 he launched the Big Bang, an outsize watch in a new case construction that managed all at once to be simple and complicated, elegant and unmissable. Even the name was a hearty, one-fingered salute to convention. It proved an instant hit, garnering major watch industry accolades the same year.
The bezel and strap are both made of leather, and designed to age in tandem.
Special editions of the Big Bang and the Classic Fusion—forged in conjunction with sports stars, official soccer events like the World Cup, and leading European teams like Manchester United and Bayern Munich—have proved a highly effective way to update an unusually small roster of house designs. That process gained new momentum in 2016 when Hublot partnered with storied French luxury brand (and LVMH stablemate) Berluti, then in the throes of expansion into a full-blown luxury ready-to-wear brand.
Big Bang Unico Cold Brown, Hublot x Berluti, hublot.com
Today marks a departure for the pairing, the first with Berluti’s creative director Kris Van Assche and the first to use the Big Bang Unico (Unico is the name of the brand’s in-house movement) as the base for the collaboration. Leather looms large in the history of Berluti, a brand famed for the artisanal patination of its bespoke shoes. In the new watch, limited to 100 pieces, both the dial and bezel are made of leather. “I wanted to create something that felt timeless yet unapologetically modern” says Van Assche. “There’s a very contemporary feel to this watch; a little sport, of course, and it’s a little chunky, too. I immediately felt this universe would make for a surprising contrast with our Venezia leather and patina. I always push for the Berluti heritage to be discovered in unexpected new contexts.”
In the dial, Berluti’s leather—which can carry residual moisture and would spell death to the movement—is encapsulated in sapphire crystal. But the bezel is open to the air and conceived to weather much like the strap. Or, maybe, a pair of shoes.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.