The decade that the year 1980 concluded, is one which marked the advent of the luxury sports chic watch. A bold, muscular timepiece, often angular in form, fitted on a bracelet that seamlessly integrated into the watch head.
This was the general formula. And as much as the 1972 Royal Oak 5204ST, Gerald Genta creation is widely considered to be the origin of this particular species, many other watchmakers turned to the aforementioned formula to add to the variety. Most followed suit from the 5204ST and made their own luxury sports chic watches first in steel and later moved on to precious metals — both watch head and bracelet. This was the accepted form for the pedigree. This was the way. That is until, Hublot.
In the late 1970s, having just left the family business, Italian gent Carlo Crocco had set his mind to take on the watch world with a twist. He coined the brand MDM Geneve and moved to Switzerland to put his game plan into action. The watch he had in mind was inspired by the shape of a ship’s porthole, hublot in French, and would take on the luxury sports chic watch formula, but with one audacious deviation.
Crocco was going to forgo the integrated metal bracelet and fit his watch with an integrated rubber strap instead. Sacrilegious, blasphemous, indecent, obscene, an unforgiveable sin, “how dare you, Sig. Crocco!” Take your pick of condemnatory words. We might take the idea of sports luxury watches, fitted on versatile rubber straps to be commonplace today but in the late 70s, in the crushing wake of the Quartz Revolution, rubber straps were solely associated with mass produced electronic wristwatches coming out from the Far East.
What Crocco had in mind was, therefore, completely unheard of (at that time). His was going to be a yellow gold wristwatch fitted on a rubber strap. Wanting to be different is fine, but why not a high-quality leather strap? You see, Crocco was an avid sailor. In wanting to create a luxury sports watch, he wanted it to be a versatile timepiece appropriate for the office and out on the open waters, in a boat that actually required for you to sail your boat. Again, let’s also not forget that he simply wanted something different from what was commonly accepted as luxury. Therefore, a rubber strap is what he settled on.
The watch that he finally unveiled at Baselworld 1980 (long live Baselworld) was simply called, the Hublot. A yellow gold watch with its face, bezel and case in the silhouette of a porthole, which had its rubber strap screwed into its lugs and would secure with a double bladed deployant clasp. In keeping the luxury aspect of the luxury sports chic watch that Crocco launched, beyond the gold case, the rubber strap was no ordinary one. His was one which was at least three years in development before it was brought to market; the world’s first ever luxury rubber strap. As impressive as the whole watch appears, both in form and storytelling, what is surely puzzling on hindsight is, why did Crocco choose to fit a quartz movement into his watch?
From there, the MDM Geneve brand chugged along and survived well into the second decade of its lifespan. It was in mid-2004 that industry titan Jean-Claude Biver set his eyes on the brand and saw its untapped potential. At that point, MDM Geneve ceased to exist, Biver brought the Hublot Big Bang to market — with just eight months on hand — at Baselworld 2005 (long live Baselworld), and the rest shall we say, is a history still being written.
40 Years in the Rearview Mirror
In marking 40 years since the launch of the original Hublot in 1980, Hublot the brand is honoring its origins with the Classic Fusion 40 Years Anniversary. The watch takes on the 1980 Hublot, with the all black dial devoid of hour markers but with modern Hublot’s identity with the six H-shaped screws on the bezel. The 1980 version had 12 on its bezel.
The watch will be made in three versions: satin-finished and polished 18K yellow gold (100 pieces), satin-finished and polished titanium (200 pieces), and satin-finished and polished black ceramic (200 pieces). They will all be powered by the Hublot HUB1112 self-winding movement (Sellita SW300-1 base). And, goes without saying, they will all be fitted onto a black smooth rubber strap.
Self-winding Calibre HUB1112; hours, minutes and seconds; date; 42-hour power reserve
45mm; 18k yellow gold, titanium or black ceramic; water resistant to 100m
Black smooth rubber strap fitted with deployant buckle clasp in material matched with the case
References & Price
• Ref. 511.VX.1280.RX.MDM40 18k in yellow gold, limited to 100 pieces; price: CHF 23,900
• Ref. 511.NX.1270.RX.MDM40 in titanium, limited to 200 pieces; price: CHF 7,900
• Ref. 511.CX.1270.RX.MDM40 in black ceramic, limited to 200 pieces; price: CHF 9,900