Hublot

MP-09 TOUR­BIL­LON BI-AXIS

Esquire (UK) - - Watches - Paul Wil­son

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

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