Fresh off the press at LVMH Watch Week – which like most trade fairs was entirely online – the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black is one of the highlights amongst all the new launches.
A collaboration with the Japanese contemporary artist known for his anime-inspired “superflat” creations, the Classic Fusion Murakami is a time-only watch with a twist: free-spinning, diamond-set petals that bring Mr Murakami’s “smiling flower” to life.
In photos the Murakami edition seems, at a glance, dull and static, in contrast to Mr Murakami’s signature style. But the watch glitters and spins, and despite not being serious haute horlogerie, it is cool and compelling.
When I first heard that Hublot would be collaborating with Mr Murakami, I expected it to be dressed in psychedelic colours, so the muted All Black livery was a surprise.
But as it turns out, it was Mr Murakami’s idea. Commenting the launch announcement, he said, “The one thing I did request was to go all black on our first collaboration… because the very first impression I had when I learned about Hublot was its signature black rubber [strap].”
Still, the Murakami edition manages to convey the artist’s exuberant style without using colour, but instead relying on motion, texture, and the smiling flower emblem.
And the all-black aesthetic makes sense given the diamonds and large size of the watch. The sparkle of the stones contrast well against the brushed bezel and black ceramic case.
The only bit of the watch I would change is the narrow insert in between the bezel and case. As with most Classic Fusion models of this type, it is made of a hard resin, something that feels out of place even if the plastic is a fancy one.
Priced at a bit over US$27,000, the Murakami edition does cost more than twice as much as the standard, all-ceramic Classic Fusion. The disparity is, however, made reasonable by the movement, which is an in-house Unico instead of a Sellita, and the black diamonds on the front. Admittedly black diamonds have little value in themselves, but they inevitably cost more when installed on a watch, as most things do.
The success of this watch – and it will surely sell well – makes it certain that additional versions are to come. Hublot tends to do too much of a good thing, so hopefully there’ll be more of the Murakami watches, but not too many.
Arguably the most interesting artist collaboration Hublot has done in recent years – contemporary art is a key element of Hublot’s branding – the distinguishing feature of the Murakami edition are its free-spinning petals.
Set with 456 black diamonds, the petals are actually a single disc set on ball bearings and weighted only on one edge, allowing it to spin with the motion of the wrist. Though uncommon, the mechanism is not new. Jaeger-LeCoultre once had something similar in the Master Twinkling Diamonds, and various watches with “mystery” rotors rely on a similar partially-weight disc.
Both the hour and minute hands sit on an extra-long pinion, allowing them to clear the petals. But only the tips of each hand are visible, with the centres being hidden by the face of the flower, which is an domed insert mounted onto the sapphire crystal and secured with adhesive.
As a result, though the case is the usual 45 mm of the standard Classic Fusion, the Murakami edition is about a third thicker at 13.45 mm high. As with most All Black models, the case is entirely ceramic – finished with either a mirror polish or linear brushing – save for the resin bezel insert.
While most watches of the Classic Fusion line – the brand’s entry-level range – are equipped with Sellita movements, the Murakami edition has upgraded mechanics in the form of the MHUB1214 UNICO, an automatic movement with a three-day power reserve, as well as a silicon escapement.
Typically combined with a chronograph module, the Unico movement is almost always found in chronographs. The Murakami edition is the first time-only Classic Fusion be equipped with the Unico, here in its simplest version.
Key facts and price
Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black
Case diameter: 45 mm
Case height: 13.45 mm
Material: Black ceramic; flower and petals set with black diamonds
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: MHUB1214 UNICO
Function: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Additional features: Silicon escapement
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Black rubber with folding clasp
Limited edition: 200 pieces
Availability: From Hublot boutiques and retailers
Price: US$27,300; or 37,400 Singapore dollars
For more, visit Hublot.com.
Correction January 27, 2021: The Murakami edition is the first time-only Classic Fusion to be equipped with a Unico movement, and not the first time-only Hublot of any type.Back to top.
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