Even by the brand’s own avant-garde standards, Hublot’s original collaboration with acclaimed modern artist Takashi Murakami is an extravagant statement piece of a watch. First announced in January 2021, the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black blends the brand’s signature silhouette with Murakami’s cheerful, high-impact “Smiling Flower” iconography to create a gleefuly irreverent, monochrome platform for 563 glittering black diamonds. Hublot bookends its 2021 releases by returning to the Murakami partnership for a second time, ratcheting up the wow factor even higher with a clear sapphire case and a rainbow gem-set motif that stays more faithful to the ultra-vibrant Day-Glo spirit of Murakami’s original artworks. The new limited edition Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow dances spectacularly to the beat of its own drum, with a willfully divisive spirit and impressive finishing coupled to an irrepressibly playful design.
Although the faceted form of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow’s 45mm should be familiar to enthusiasts, the all-sapphire execution gives this new model a markedly different character in initial images. Although the brand turns to full-sapphire cases relatively often for its more aggressive and complex Big Bang series, the simpler profile of the Classic Fusion is a rarer sight in the material. There are still plenty of the brand’s signature faceted planes through the integrated lugs and trademark H-screw bezel to create dramatic reflections in images, but the simpler rounded case sides and less complex surfacing make the lines of this case far more legible than its Big Bang counterparts in images. This less aggressive approach also deftly suits the happy-go-lucky spirit of Murakami’s artwork, and offers a cleaner canvas to build upon. Even counting the sapphire material, however, by far the most striking element of the case is the center of Murakami’s “smiling flower,” built in rhodium directly atop the crystal and set with 103 brilliant-cut gemstones. With a rainbow gradient of rubies, pink sapphires, amethysts, blue sapphires, tsavorites, yellow sapphires, and orange sapphires, this simple and cartoony smiling face stands proudly above the rest of the case, contributing significantly to the hefty 14mm overall thickness. Given this carefully set cluster of gems placed above the crystal, this is naturally not an ideal watch for strenuous activity, and the meager 50 meter water resistance rating reinforces this fact.
Like the brand’s previous Murakami collaboration, the dial of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow is dominated by a rotating assembly of 12 gem-set “petals.” This free-spinning layer should add a brilliantly kinetic element to an already dramatic display, and it continues the gradient pattern started on the crystal with an additional 384 gemstones. Hublot keeps actual timekeeping functions to a minimum here, with only a simple polished straight sword handset and no numerals or scales to speak of. However, when the 12-sided petal assembly is not rotating, it can be used as an ersatz set of hour indices, which does marginally help the poor legibility, overall.
Inside the Hublot Classic Fusion, Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow beats the in-house Unico MHUB1214 automatic movement. Compared to the vibrant, stylized display of the dial, the view of the Unico MHUB1214 through the display caseback is far more conventional and familiar. The finishing across most of the ultramodern skeleton bridges is simple matte blasting, with brushed highlights for the gear train and skeleton rotor. The Unico MHUB1214 is a solid performer, offering a beefy 72-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Hublot completes the transparent look with a translucent white integrated rubber strap featuring a ridged texture for added visual texture in images.
By refusing to kowtow to traditionalist expectations and delivering a design that is as arrestingly finished as it is playful, the limited edition Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow helps to close out a memorable year of Hublot releases with one of the purest expressions of the brand’s defiant avant-garde ethos. Only 100 examples of the Hublot Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Sapphire Rainbow will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $106,000. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.