Celebrating The Launch Of The Hublot Big Bang Unico Arturo Fuente Ceramic In The Dominican Republic
Watchonista travels to the Caribbean to attend the unveiling of the latest Hublot x Arturo Fuente edition.
At the end of Watchonista’s Complete Guide to Cigar-Inspired Watches: Part Two, I concluded:
“What will be the next cigar-inspired watch? Time will tell. In the meantime, light up a Montecristo A, relax, . . . and wait.”
Well, the wait, all things considered, was a short one. Especially for a niche mechanical-watch category to which many – cigar aficionados aside, of course – have likely given little thought.
Instead of a Montecristo A, come to think of it, perhaps a more apropos selection would have been a Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share Reserva D’ Chateau (a personal favorite). It’s also an “A” or Gran Corona–size cigar (a humungous 235mm/9.25 inch x 47-48 rg) that requires approximately two to three hours from light-up to finish. The Gran Corona vitola is typically the longest standard-production cigar offered in any premium or ultra-premium cigar manufacture’s portfolio.
But I digress.
Hublot x Arturo Fuente
Let us cut now to the Dominican Republic on a typically warm tropical November evening for a cocktail soiree at Casa Colonial. A posh Puerto Plata beachside resort, Casa Colonial played host to the culminating event of two days spent touring Chateau de la Fuente (perhaps the most famous cigar-tobacco farm in the world) and the Arturo Fuente Cigar Fabrica (factory) campus.
Here, in the presence of collectors and journalists from around the world, Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, and Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr., President of Arturo Fuente y Compañias and inarguably the most famous cigar maker in the world, introduced their fifth timepiece collaboration: the Hublot Big Bang Unico Arturo Fuente Ceramic. And by the following morning only a handful of the timepieces were unspoken for because, like the other watches in this ongoing collaboration, this one sold out in a matter of days.
The preceding four releases were the Hublot King Power Arturo Fuente in 2012, the Classic Fusion ForbiddenX in 2014, and the Classic Fusion Fuente and Classic Fusion Fuente 20th Anniversary, both in 2017. But more on those in a moment.
Why has this collaboration proven so fruitful? Guadalupe was unequivocal: “The success of these watches is due to Carlito and his overwhelming enthusiasm for working on behalf of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.”
And it’s true: All Fuente proceeds from watch sales over the past decade have gone to the Fuente and J.C. Newman families’ philanthropic endeavors. (Newman is Fuente’s longtime U.S. distribution partner.) Meanwhile, the Hublot contributions are earmarked specifically for the Cigar Family Arts Academy, a unique performing and visual arts center that is currently under construction directly adjacent to the main CF campus.
These charitable efforts, and the collaboration in general, have taken Guadalupe and Fuente around the world, from the Dominican Republic and the U.S. to Brazil, Dubai, and India.
This new Big Bang chronograph is the latest in an impressive, ongoing – and, to date, sold-out – series. It follows in the footsteps of the first release, the aforementioned Hublot King Power Arturo Fuente 48mm from 2012.
As the inaugural model born of this partnership, the King Power Arturo Fuente was available in either a King Gold or black ceramic case and featured the iconic Fuente Fuente OpusX (FFOX) Roman “X” logo within a 9 o’clock sub-dial. However, regardless of the case material, the watch came housed in a custom Macassar-and-ebony humidor (evocative of the classic FFOX cigar box), commissioned by Hublot specifically for this project.
The sophomore effort two years later was the 2014 Classic Fusion Forbidden X, perhaps the most noteworthy collaboration timepiece so far. The instantly recognizable dial showcased an actual cigar-tobacco leaf from Chateau de la Fuente (hand-selected by Carlito Fuente himself) preserved in a proprietary epoxy resin. Not content to rest on its laurel, this 44mm watch even had a tourbillon version.
Dual limited-edition releases – the Classic Fusion Fuente and the Classic Fusion Fuente 20th Anniversary – followed in 2017. The latter of which commemorated two decades of the Fuente Fuente OpusX, the first-ever commercially available Dominican Republic puro, which instantly became an emblem of epicurean luxury and one of the most sought-after cigars in the world.
It has been a truly enduring partnership, with 14 models and variations among the five releases. “Ours is always a long-term vision,” Guadalupe explained. And Carlito Fuente proudly noted that now, after more than a decade, he is Hublot’s longest-serving brand ambassador.
The newest addition is the 2021 Big Bang Unico Arturo Fuente Ceramic chronograph. Designed in close partnership with Manny Iriarte, the director of Fuente’s longtime creative agency, this 44mm chronograph is limited to 100 pieces. But more importantly, it is an homage to Carlito Fuente’s father and the patron saint of the family enterprise, Don Carlos Fuente Sr., who lamentably passed on in 2016.
As a result, the back of the Big Bang Unico Arturo Fuente Ceramic is engraved with Fuente’s famous logo. However, the initials that typically appear in the center of the logo – “AF,” for Arturo Fuente – have been supplanted by “CF,” for Carlos Fuente Sr., along with the words “Edición de homenaje” (Spanish for “Edition in homage”). Moreover, a dedication from Carlito Fuente is also engraved on the back. It reads: “Our Father, Our Friend, Our Hero.”
Given the watch’s all-inclusive moniker, it is, unsurprisingly, powered by Hublot’s in-house calibre, the HUB1280 UNICO. A self-winding chronograph flyback movement, this calibre offers a respectable 72 hours of power reserve. Meanwhile, the bezel, engraved with a traditional tobacco-leaf motif, is discreetly microblasted and polished. On the dial, the serif “X” logo stands sentry at 10, 11, and 12 o’clock, and a crowned lion within the 9 o’clock sub-dial nods to the fact that the brand supplied cigars to the Spanish court.
While Fuente’s creed is, “We will never rush the hands of time,” but one does need to keep track of them. If you’re a Hublot and Fuente fan, there’s no better way to do so than with this new flyback chronograph.
The intersection of horological and sartorial craftsmanship and heritage, alongside epicurean pleasure, are endlessly fascinating. As previously advised, one is encouraged to light up a lengthy, preferably well-aged cigar and wait for the next drop in this class of its own category.
With the Festival del Habano in Cuba and Procigar Festival in the Dominican Republic both coming this February, as well as the 110th anniversary of Fuente Cigars (founded in Tampa, Florida, by Don Arturo Fuente Sr. in 1912), perhaps yet another cigar-inspired timepiece isn’t far off.