Hublot straddles the line between fashion watches and luxury watches. For the most part, the company’s production consists of mechanical sports watches designed for men, and that should leave no doubt as to the true-luxury status of the brand itself. But the relentless Hublot marketing offensive can blur the line between style and substance that separate the worlds of fashion and engineering. This breeds cynicism and occasional resentment from certain quarters of the watch collector fraternity.

The 2011 Hublot Oceanographic 4000 was designed to shift perceptions of Hublot from high-fashion to high-mech. While not notably complicated, the Oceanographic 4000 commanded respect as a no-excuses life support tool. It was a serious piece of kit suitable for use as a backup dive timer (modern divers use computers as primaries). Fashion is subjective, but dive safety is matter of life and death, so Hublot clearly stepped beyond the limits of mere fashion accessories.

Never mind that few, if any, Oceanographic 4000s ever went on a dive. As with Ferraris, Aga ovens, and ICBMs, the Hublot 4000 commands respect for its staggering potential in theory. First, the 4000-meter diving depth was impressive in the pre-2022 world of dive watches, and that rating placed the Hublot 4000 in elite company; actual testing validated the watch at 125 percent of its rated depth. Second, legibility of the massive dial was excellent, and it provided Hublot with a rare opportunity to claim its hulking form followed function.

The original version of the Oceanographic was a 48mm titanium monolith suitable for only the burliest of arms; carbon fiber was available for those with a taste for the exotic. Everything about the watch was over-engineered. Its crystal measured 6.5mm thick – the world’s thickest dive watch crystal at the time. A helium escape valve was a given; no matter how few genuine saturation divers purchased the watch, the 4000’s capability and potential needed to meet any demand.

Additional refinements included an internal diving bezel operated by a knob protected by a hinged cap. It was far more complex a solution than a standard unidirectional external bezel, but the Hublot system eliminated the potential to displace the bezel by accident. Both the winding crown and bezel crown were secured by screw-down action. Massive amounts of Super LumiNova were employed to keep the monster Hublot diver legible in the dark of the deep.

Mechanically, the Oceanographic 4000 was conventional. An ETA-based architecture did business as Hublot caliber HUB 1401. The 2892-based movement provided hacking seconds, a quickset date, automatic winding, and a 42-hour power reserve. Additional features included a push-button lug release system; the watch shipped with both a rubber strap for “town” use and an extended Velcro strap for diving.

No version of the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 was rare by limited edition standards, but the numbers remain respectably exclusive. The titanium model was offered in 1,000 copies; the carbon fiber model was built in 500 examples. A tie-in connected the watch to a charity benefit for the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, so the 1,500 Hublot customers could at least feel good about spending $21,800 for the titanium model or $29,100 for the carbon fiber watch.