Hublot is not a brand known for its subtlety. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it just is. Experimental LaFerrari watches, full-on sapphire Big Bang chronographs, and quirky collaborations with contemporary artists are more Hublot’s speed. But the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Moonphase watch we have here today is a relatively restrained, finely detailed triple calendar with moonphase in one of the more wearable 42mm cases you’ll find anywhere. This is, without question, my favorite Hublot yet.The watch at hand is the Hublot Aerofusion Moonphase Titanium 42mm. It was first released in a larger 45mm size, and this past spring at Baselworld we first saw the new downsized version. It uses the same basic case structure as Hublot’s Classic Fusion line, which is the company’s collection of dressier, less bombastic watches. This is meant to be a wear-anywhere watch that can go with a suit as well as with a t-shirt, and it does a pretty good job of striking that balance.
The case feels svelte, even at 12mm thick, and the arched integrated lugs give it a bit of an architectural feel. It’s constructed entirely from titanium, with a mix of brushed and polished finishes (polishing titanium is really difficult and the metal is prone to igniting when it gets too hot). Even the functional bezel screws are titanium. The brushing is in straight vertical lines, and is extremely well-executed. There’s a thin matte black composite insert between the bezel and the case, which helps the bezel really pop against the main case body. While this is much more subtle than many of Hublot’s case designs, those high-polish areas still catch a lot of light and this isn’t a shrinking violet of a watch.
But this Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Moonphase watch is really all about the movement – what the little mechanical engine can do – and the view you get of the calendar mechanisms at work. Inside is the caliber HUB 1131, an automatic triple calendar with moonphase that has been partially skeletonized (in case you’re wondering, it has a Sellita base with the calendar works on top). It can’t really be called a full skeleton, since you’re not looking straight through the movement, but it has been opened up somewhat, which allows you to see the calendar works. There’s no actual “dial” to speak of – instead, you get a black flange right around the bezel’s edge with a minutes track and applied hour markers and then an open expanse at the center. It’s easier to read than you’d think, but I did occasionally find myself having to get just the right angle to read the time in lower light situations.
There are four calendar indications – two in the openworked section and two in the overlaid moonphase sub-dial. The two in the openworked portion are the day of the week and month indicators. They’re displayed in the usual pair of windows at 12 o’clock, but with a few accommodations to make them legible while conforming to the skeletonized construction. The disks themselves are actually just cut-outs of the letters, floating over the other movement components. The windows however have a white backing, which lends some contrast to the grey letters, making them readable. You can also see the springs that move the disks in action, a fun addition to this watch.
The moonphase display itself is probably the coolest part of the watch though. The black and white ring around the edge hands out over the openworked part of the dial, showing the date and containing the moonphase in the center. The moonphase is composed of an iridescent blue ground, the pair of engraved photorealistic metal moons, and a translucent black overlay to block out the moon that’s out of view. There is a ton of visual depth here and the colors, textures, and varying levels of translucence mean the display looks different almost every time you look at it. During the few days I had the watch, I couldn’t stop staring at it.
So how is the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Moonphase watch on the wrist? Honestly, it’s great. I’m usually firmly in the Hublot-watches-are-way-way-way-too-big-for-me camp, but at 42mm the titanium Fusion case wears close to the wrist, and is about as light as you could want it to be. The combination rubber and crocodile strap probably wouldn’t be my first choice (all rubber, all day), but it’s comfortable and goes nicely with the overall look of the watch. As I said earlier, this is still a Hublot – no one is going to walk by and not notice you’ve got something serious on your wrist – but I wouldn’t describe it as flashy or over-the-top.
And, that brings us to the all important question of price. The Hublot Aerofusion Moonphase Titanium 42mm retails for $15,600. This is a little higher than what you’ll usually find in The Value Proposition, but stick with me for a second. The same watch in the 45mm size is $22,400 and in King Gold it will set you back either $27,700 (42mm) or $40,300 (45 mm). There are multiple brands right now selling triple calendars in the $10,000-$15,000 with totally stock movements and modules powering them and little to no visual differentiation to speak of. This watch offers a real complication, executed in an interesting and innovative way, in a well-made package that’s extremely wearable, with enough compelling details to keep the watch interesting far after the first few wears – and all for just over $15,000. This isn’t The Budget Proposition, it’s The Value Proposition, and this to me sounds like pretty damn great value.
Ultimately, there are still those who won’t be able to get past the fact that the Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Moonphase watch says Hublot around 8:30 and has the six H-shaped screws on that bold bezel. Fine. It’s not a watch for everyone. But for me – someone who doesn’t usually describe a watch from Hublot as one of the coolest watches he saw at Baselworld – this watch is an extremely successful attempt at showing off what the manufacture can do and how its brash style can be sold to a more understated audience. Here’s to hoping Hublot hears my little shout in the dark and leaves me just as excited about something new next March.