It started on a clear, unseasonably warm and hospitable evening in Milan in February last year. Little did I know I was about to embark on a horological journey that would last the better part of a year and a half. But the end result, I think, is worth the peripatetic, highly international, and at times amusingly circuitous journey that has yielded one of my favourite timepiece collaborations for The Rake.
The gentlemen who gathered together in the historic stone courtyard of Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone were familiar figures to readers of this magazine: Lapo Elkann, the grandson of Gianni Agnelli; Luca Rubinacci, scion of Naples’ most fabled tailoring dynasty; Augusto Capitanucci, the Hublot Mediterranean Regional Director; and, with apologies, yours truly. The occasion followed the celebration of Elkann’s Italia Independent and Rubinacci’s collaboration with Hublot, which featured vintage tweed straps and dials unearthed from Luca’s father Mariano Rubinacci’s famous treasure trove of ancient materials. As the conversation of the night turned to philosophy, metaphysics and romance, the question was posited — by which of these gentlemen I can’t recall — that if The Rake were to create a Hublot watch, what would be its characteristics? Inspired in part by the event of the evening, I replied: “It would have to embrace two eras simultaneously — that of the ancient world and that of the modern world. In the same way that tailoring as defined by Rubinacci and watchmaking as expressed by Hublot is simultaneously ancient and modern.”
And so it began with the concept of Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the newest and the oldest colliding within the fiery crucible and fierce geometry of a single watch. After all, wasn’t this the calling card of Hublot? Isn’t ‘fusion’ — the concept of modernity and tradition, the best of material innovation — intrinsically married with the 200-year-old traditions of high Swiss watchmaking? As we continued our horological dialectic, we arrived at the idea of metals each embodying the past and the future. So the materials selected for The Rake’s first collaboration with Hublot are, firstly, an expression of contemporary technical advancement, and, secondly, an embodiment of the ancient world. Interestingly, both materials are innately linked to warrior cultures, and their names bristle and resonate with a sense of purpose born of their extensive use in combat.