When Hublot put a rubber strap on a gold watch 40 years ago, it was quite an unconventional approach to watchmaking at the time. It was an Italian gentleman, Carlo Crocco, who created the watch by combining design flair from Italy with Swiss craftsmanship and naming it something French, Hublot, meaning "porthole" in English. The replica watch utilized screws in the case, a design element that's come to define Hublot over the decades. The case shape was inspired by a ship's porthole. The decision to utilize a rubber strap is rooted in the need for versatility and ease of use around water, but, of course, it went against traditional watch design at the time, as rubber straps were usually found on watches at a much lower price point.
Today, that very first watch from Crocco is living a second life. Hublot has released the Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary model in a trio of materials: 18k yellow gold, titanium, and black ceramic. There are 100 examples in yellow gold, 200 in titanium, and 200 in black ceramic.
But the main difference this time around is what's inside: the Caliber Hublot HUB1112. The HUB1112 is based in the SW300-1 and is finished by Hublot. The first replica Hublot, the Classic Original, used a quartz movement.
The brand's 1980 release, the Classic Original, was a hit. It was a dress watch that broke all the norms and even became popular with a cast of royal characters. The story goes that the Prince of Monaco, along with the kings of Greece, Spain, and Sweden all wore Hublot watches. Carlo Crocco had invented a winning formula with the Classic Original.
The Classic Original was released to much fanfare, but sales cooled off during the following decades. Crocco wanted to refocus his efforts on his philanthropy work, but wasn't interested in selling off Hublot completely, so he looked for the right steward for the brand. It was in 2004 that Jean-Claude Biver got involved with Hublot. Crocco had known Biver prior to his joining Hublot, when he struck a deal with Biver to distribute Blancpain watches in Italy and Spain. Biver was running Blancpain at the time, and had managed to turn both Blancpain and Omega into commercial successes during his career prior to Hublot. And Hublot wasn't any different.