MP-09 TOURBILLON BI-AXIS
A gravity-defying masterpiece
It’s a bold move to call your flagship watch range the Masterpiece Collection, but then Hublot moved into bold watchmaking of the very highest rank with the debut, in 2011, of the MP-01. Since then there has been a pocket watch shaped like a bullet, which can also be worn on the wrist (MP-03), wrist-borne tributes to automotive legends Ferrari (MP-05) and Ayrton Senna (MP-06) and two watches inspired by ancient Greek analogue “computer”, the Antikythera mechanism (MP-04 and MP-08). Now there’s the remarkable MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis.
The first thing you notice is the tourbillon spinning in two directions, in a sapphire crystal compartment at the juncture of the case and the inside end of the strap. You can view this feat of horological engineering from the top or the side; the sapphire case and gyroscopic spinning seems to add another, gravity-defying dimension through which to admire the watch.
There’s much else to enjoy here, too. The sub-dial for telling the time, pushed off-centre, up and to the right of the watch face. The date marked by two semi-circular levels of numbers, and altered by a lever on the case at the nine o’clock position. The red power reserve gauge that at first glance looks more like a label to be removed when the watch is opened.
“We go out of the box with the Masterpiece Collection,” says Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. “We believe in innovation and creativity, with our engineers and watchmakers. The idea with the MP-09 was to have something new and innovative, from a physical point of view, which we have done with the tourbillon on two axes.”
Nothing is off the table when it comes to Hublot watches. They are grand gestures, on the part of the makers and those who wear them, especially with the MP series. Boundaries are pushed and stretched, rulebooks ripped up. This is the brand that showed the bruised, freshly mugged face of Bernie Ecclestone in one of its ads just three weeks after the former F1 supremo had his Hublot stolen in Knightsbridge in 2010.
The overriding principle that guides all its watchmaking is known as the “Art of Fusion”, a commitment to working with materials in new and unexpected ways. Hublot has a research and development team in its Metallurgy and Materials department that devises new materials, such as King Gold, a beautiful red alloy in which the MP-09 is also available in a limited edition of 20.
The Art of Fusion is not just a slogan of afterthought. The very first watch under the Hublot name, designed by the company’s Italian founder Carlo Crocco, was also the first watch anywhere with a natural rubber strap on a gold case. It took three years to develop: the hard yards of fusion that lead to the art. When it was unveiled at the Baselworld watch fair in 1980, the industry was shocked — on the first day no one placed a single order.
But it soon grew into a cult success. By 2004, company turnover had grown to £15m but losses were £2.3m. In 2005, Hublot launched its first Big Bang watch, which artfully fused steel with ceramic, rarely used in watchmaking, in a piece that elevated and emphasised the company’s signature porthole-shaped watch face (the French word hublot translates to porthole).
It was a huge triumph. By the end of 2006, new Big Bang models and a new ad strategy meant that turnover stood at £77m, with £7.7m of profit. Savvy sporting associations were made; at various times since, you’d see a Hublot on the wrist of Usain Bolt, Diego Maradona, José Mourinho, Manchester United and Chelsea players. Hublot became the official timekeeper of the 2014 Fifa World Cup and 2015’s ICC Cricket World Cup.
In 2008, Hublot became part of the LVMH luxury group and today, says Guadalupe, “We’re a brand with a billion [euros] turnover per year. It has been an incredible success. We’ve taken our opportunity to gain more market share, and we will continue to do so. Really our goal is to become one of the three best brands in our industry. Right now, the MP-09 is the top of the pyramid for us, and we want people to see it and understand we’re an aspirational brand. We want people to see our watches and dream.”
49MM TITANIUM ON BLACK STRUCTURED RUBBER STRAP, £140,000