Three Edgy Releases Reveal Different Facets of Hublot

Technical mastery, materials innovation and artistic collaboration are elements that underpin Hublot as a brand, and each was on display in its novelties for LVMH Watch Week 2024.

MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium

True novelty is a rare thing in the watch industry. We’re used to hearing brands proclaim their latest “innovation” as “revolutionary” or “unique,” but seldom do those words apply as accurately as press communications would have you believe.

One brand that does manage to produce watches unlike anything we’ve seen before, however, is Hublot. Ever since its foundation in 1980, the Swiss maker, established by Italian entrepreneur and watch designer Carlo Crocco, has lived up to its reputation as an originator. The brand consolidated its position in the market with the combination of unexpected materials (in the early days this extended to the “fusion” of rubber and precious metals) and arguably peerless exploration of new, ever more surprising substances for use in high-end watchmaking.

Proof of the effectiveness of Hublot’s fundamental concept can be seen all around us. While the brand is sometimes polarizing for its madcap experiments, many of the trails it first blazed are now well-trodden paths, walked by countless brands. In the 1980s, the idea of pairing rubber with gold was almost scandalous. But, just as Gerald Genta before him, Crocco was unafraid of disrupting the industry. Nowadays, many of the most respected brands in the industry, including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Rolex, have released precious metal watches with rubber straps. The very thought of this before Hublot made it the norm would have been seen as absurd.

A visit to Hublot’s foundry in Nyon, Switzerland, makes it clear the brand has not let up its relentless pursuit of true novelty. The workbenches are littered with wild and wonderful materials, composites, and components that one simply wouldn’t find anywhere else in the watchmaking universe.

Hublot matufacture in Nyon, Switzerland
Hublot matufacture in Nyon, Switzerland

We see that here with the release of the Hublot MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium, that does away with the dial, hands, and oscillating mass, replacing them with a roller display and two linear weights respectively.

A tireless push for novelty

In addition to the handless time indication, a circular power reserve and tourbillon (inclined at a 35° angle) complete the headline complications of this remarkable effort.

One of the MP Collection’s goals is to meld ambitious aesthetics with heavy-hitting horology. This holistic approach is perhaps the most faithful to the original Hublot vision but is something you don’t necessarily see (or appreciate) in the core collections because those shapes and styles have been around for so long already. Here, we have new tech in an entirely new case shape that manages to tick every box of the MP collection and the brand itself.

Although it is to be expected with such an aspirant piece, the MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium is limited. Only 50 pieces will be made and each one will command a fearsome retail price of $264,000. In this context, it probably isn’t even worth asking what a quarter of a million dollars could buy you elsewhere. That’s not really the point.

That’s because the Hublot MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium does so many things right. It is precisely what high-horology should be. Firstly, it breaks boundaries on every front. While its silhouette is remarkable in itself, the complexity of the case construction and the form and finish of the materials used is what you appreciate when peering more closely.

This is a complicated watch with an over-engineered design, and that’s exactly what Hublot fans love. The two weights that wind the watch’s mainspring and provide its 48-hour power reserve (which can be topped up by the crown located at 12 o’clock), run along two highly polished bars each, with their up-and-down travel facilitated by friction-reducing jewels set into the branded weights themselves.

The pace and violence of their travel are moderated by coiled springs that recall the old buffer movements common in the middle of the 20th century. And this is no glib point: this watch represents not just watchmaking’s future, but also its past.

One eye on the future, one eye on the past

It sounds crazy to say it out loud, but it’s not actually that strange to call this watch “traditional” in some sense. While this particular style of automatic winding system is novel, we’ve seen similar concepts in the past. It is the refinement, the execution, and the presentation of the technology that makes the difference here.

Hublot tells us this watch has been in the works for five years. It’s odd to really digest that. So much has happened since 2019 in the watch industry, one has to wonder how often the brand was forced to reevaluate its goals for the MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium. When it comes to this echelon of watchmaking, however, the likely answer is “never.” There has always been (and likely always will be) a healthy market for these ultra-complicated, mind- blowingly expensive timepieces that may not end up on many wrists but will hopefully have the ability to stimulate many minds.

Because whenever Hublot breaks a mold it’s only so long before it’s remade by somebody else. Thereafter, the technology and aesthetic advancements that once existed for the very few, will start to trickle down to ladder until they are comparatively accessible.

Tech Specs

Hublot MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium Ref. 910.NX.0001.RX

Movement: Self-winding caliber HUB9013; 48-hour power reserve
Functions: Cylindrical hours and minutes display, and suspended tourbillon with small seconds indicator
Case: 41.5mm; shiny microblasted titanium; water resistant to 30m
Dial: Skeletonized
Strap: Black structured rubber with titanium deployant buckle
Price: USD 264,000
Availability: Limited to 50 pieces

Big Bang Unico Green Saxem

Hublot’s striking Saxem material has been effectively deployed on several models to date, but here, in perhaps its simplest form, it really shines.

For a material that took the masters of such experimentation two years to perfect, it is no wonder it is often paired with the brand’s more impressive calibers. Skeletonized engines, tourbillons, and multi-barrel movements that boast incredible power reserves are the norm. Here, however, the striking green case has been paired with a Unico movement that clearly positions the in-house created Saxem housing as the star of the show.

And, in many ways, that’s exactly as it should be. It is not all that surprising that Hublot has often preferred to buddy up one of its most arresting and unique case materials with similarly stunning horology, but for many watch lovers out there, even those who breathe such rarified air, simplicity is king. It may make more than a little sense that Hublot has commonly seen fit to throw everything at watches made from a material that is certainly not the easiest to work with in order to hammer home its exceptionalism, but not everybody who wants the wow factor of a Saxem case requires all the mechanical bells and whistles to make the desired statement.

Of course, it’s not like employing a simpler movement has resulted in a particularly “accessible” price point, with this automatic watch retailing for USD 116,000, but that’s hardly the point. The Saxem material, which is a refined chemical compound of remarkable chromatic homogeny is similar to sapphire in appearance, but chemically quite distinct. Made of aluminum dioxide, sapphires are colored by the addition of metallic oxides, while Saxem receives its distinctive hues from rare earth elements. Furthermore, sapphire has a triangular structure while Saxem has a cubic form. This results in a brighter and more uniform shine which, while not immediately apparent from images, is easier to appreciate in real life — if you’re ever lucky enough to see one of these rare beasts in the wild.

The word itself stands for Sapphire Aluminum oXide and rare Earth Mineral, the difference between the two may be more academic than practical, but it is undeniable that Hublot continues to hold up its end of the bargain as watchmaking’s most mainstream playground for the industry’s mad scientists.

The green giant

The Hublot Big Bang Unico Green Saxem is presented on a matching green rubber strap, affixed to the case by Hublot’s proprietary “one-click” system, which will make swapping out this strap a piece of cake if, say, there’s a bit too much green for the wearer’s liking. Hublot has produced a wide range of straps that are compatible with this quick-change system so mixing up the look of this piece is always an option for the Hublot faithful.

Powering proceedings is the MHUB1280 chronograph caliber, which has its column wheel (the chronograph’s “control component”) located just slightly to the right of six o’clock and clearly visible on the dial. That’s a nice touch for chronograph lovers and offers a bit of visual connectivity to the elapsed timing function even while the watch is being worn.

As is the norm for the MHUB1280, the skeletonized date disk is visible around the edge of the dial, with the date picked out by a subtly demarcated aperture at three o’clock, nestled within the 60-minute sub-register.

Across the dial at nine, the going seconds hand can be seen. Interestingly, although this is not often mentioned in regards to the MHUB1280 typical dial layout, these chronographs technically qualify as “Big-Eye” timers thanks to the prominence given to the minute counter.

Tech Specs

Hublot Big Bang Unico Green Saxem Ref. 441.JG.4990.RT

Movement: Self-winding caliber MHUB1280; 72-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Case: 42mm; polished green Saxem, water resistant to 50m
Dial: Skeletonized with black bridges and green accents
Strap: Color-matched green rubber with a titanium deployant buckle; black ceramic and black-plated
Price: USD 116,000
Availability: Limited edition of 100 pieces

Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski

Hublot continues its collaboration with the world’s best- selling French Artist Richard Orlinski by unveiling two new classic fusion models in time for LVMH Watch Week 2024.

Building on the previous success of this partnership which has been running since 2017, the latest Orlinski models lean heavily on the use of Hublot’s high-tech, colorfast ceramics mated with Orlinski’s iconic use of faceting in his designs.

Whether watches qualify as works of art in their own right is a topic of frequent discussion. A great many watch aficionados are comfortable with such a designation but agreement is not universal. Here, though, it seems hard to argue against. When brands work so closely with an artist and allow that artist to bring their signature forms to a timepiece, it is difficult to view the resulting product as anything but canonical with the designer’s back catalog. Perhaps the way in which a watch is marketed and maybe even purchased can also add weight to the suggestion that watches — or at least some of them — are indeed art.

Orlinski’s co-creations with Hublot certainly act like works of art commercially. They tend to be gobbled up by fans of his and the brand without a moment’s hesitation. There can be no doubt that such a collaboration has achieved its goal: to bring a new audience to Hublot that might otherwise have been unaware of its wares. Whether the buyers of these pieces see them as a Hublot watch or an Orlinski work of art first is almost moot. What matters is that the passion for these pieces is real and they appeal to two separate demographics that were, prior to 2017, unrelated.

A dramatic contrast

Both the vibrant yellow and light blue references are powered by the manually wound manufacture MHUB6021. The yellow version has black PVD-coated bridges, enhancing the drama and the contrast on the wrist. Meanwhile, the sky blue variant has crisp cool gray plating on the skeletonized display resulting in an icy, almost aloof character. As one might expect, this hand-wound movement is fitted with a power reserve that indicates the watch’s five-day run time when fully charged from its position between the eight and nine o’clock markers.

With a 45mm diameter, blazingly bright colors, and the unmissable angles of Orlinski’s design, both the Hublot Yellow Magic and Sky Blue Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski will surely attract a lot of attention if you’re lucky enough to secure one of the 30 pieces of each that will be made. Of course, if your pockets are deep enough, you could even buy both (or multiples of either color if you’re a fan of “double wristing”). Once that decision is made, all that’s left to do is find the USD 95,000 asking price that ownership of either reference will require.

Tech Specs

Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Orlinski Ref. 505.CY.119Y.RX.ORL24 (Yellow Magic); 505.ES.5129.RX.ORL24 (Sky Blue)

Movement: Manual winding caliber MHUB6021; 105-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and tourbillon
Case: 45mm; yellow or sky blue polished ceramic; water resistant to 30m
Dial: Skeletonized
Strap: Smooth, color-matched rubber with stainless steel deployant buckles
Price: USD 95,000
Availability: Limited edition of 30 pieces of each color

A version of this story originally appeared in Revolution Magazine Issue 73. Learn more, buy or subscribe here.

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