Introducing Hublot Honors Aspen’s Unlikely Beginnings With A Limited Edition Classic Fusion Watch.
Mounted on the wall, just to the right of the entrance to the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen, Colorado, is the massive Hublot Big Bang watch-clock that lets skiers know how many runs they can squeeze in before the gondola shuts down at 3:30 PM and the après-ski revelry begins. There are eight other supersized Big Bang watch clocks perched around public spaces throughout the ritzy ski town. Hublot is the official timekeeper of Aspen, a partnership that launched in 2019. Like most industries, the pandemic took a massive toll on ski-related travel and tourism, but now that the lifts are running again and the town is alive with folks from all over, Hublot is honoring the partnership with a limited run of 25 watches that pay homage to the 75th anniversary of the creation of Aspen Snowmass, a destination ski town about four hours west of Denver.
The Classic Fusion Aerofusion Aspen Snowmass Limited Edition is an exercise in what Hublot does best. There’s the “fusion” of ceramic and rubber (white calf leather layer, backed with rubber) and the brand’s skeletonized and decorated HUB1155 caliber inside. This is the Classic Fusion you already know, but in a monochromatic colorway that’s tailored for the slopes. And while these all come together to form a fine-looking series of 25 watches, it’s the way that Hublot manages to meet their customers where they’re at that’s most interesting. I have a soft spot for esoteric brand partnerships that result in highly specific limited editions. I love the old Eddie Bauer Ford Explorers from the ’90s or the L.L Bean Hamiltons that Jason wrote about in 2018. Collaborations run rampant in the watch world today, but few brands manage to seek out partnerships that make sense for their consumers in the same way Hublot does. The designs are polarizing, sure, but as an exercise in positioning watches and creating strong associations, Hublot does it better than most. And that’s worthy of respect.
The 25 watches were released on Thursday and are most likely spoken for. Hublot’s core customer base doesn’t necessarily read HODINKEE or interact with the watch media world as frequently as devotees of other brands, but Hublot die-hards are incredibly passionate about the marque. I’ve spent a few days with big-time Hublot collectors and every time I’m fascinated by the dichotomy between what the Insta-watch world thinks versus how the core customers view the brand. I admire Hublot collectors because they truly don’t give a damn about what you think about their watch and they just enjoy the hell out of them. Aurel Bacs recently exclaimed “this is what watch collecting is all about!” after the hammer fell to the tune of $5,350,000 for a Patek Philippe ref. 5711/1A-018, with a Tiffany & Co.-signed dial. And for some, that is what watch collecting is all about. But I think the Hublot crowd is truly onto something here – collecting is also about enjoying watches you genuinely appreciate and not paying much attention to what anyone else has to say about it – or how much they’re willing to pay for it.
It may be difficult to find a Classic Fusion Aerofusion Aspen Snowmass Limited Edition now, but it’s not all about ownership, anyway. The existence of the watch serves as an interesting starting point to exploring what it’s made to honor: the 75th anniversary of Aspen Snowmass’s creation. During WWII, the need for US soldiers equipped to fight in challenging mountainous terrain became clear after a specialized Finnish ski unit defeated a much larger and better-equipped invading Soviet force in the Winter War of 1939. The defeat triggered the ramping-up of America’s own specialized ski-equipped alpine fighting force in the form of the 10th Mountain Division. The unit trained at Colorado’s Camp Hale, and naturally, many locals were perfectly suited to become highly specialized in alpine operations given their Rocky Mountain upbringings. The unit went on to penetrate the Germans’ “Gothic Line” in Italy’s Apennine Mountains. This allowed Allied forces to break through and advance into the territory previously held by the Germans.
After the Allied victory, members of the 10th Mountain Infantry Division retired home to Colorado. In Europe, they witnessed how the sport of skiing could represent refinement and luxury in a way that had never before been seen, stateside. Skiing as part of tourism existed in the Northeast on a small scale but it didn’t have the same flair that the 10th Mountain Division veterans witnessed on European slopes, so they decided to bring that culture to their home state.
10th Mountain Division veterans are credited with opening a total of 62 ski areas in the Western United States, the most famous of which is Aspen Snowmass which opened in 1947. It’s funny that 75 years on, their legacy is honored by Hublot in the form of a 25-piece limited edition watch.
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