For 2015, Hublot has released a new ref. 504.QX.0110.LR version of its very interesting Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater watch, this time as a limited edition in an all carbon fiber Classic Fusion case. Minute repeaters are becoming trendy again, as watch makers seek to wow luxury buyers with high-end timepieces that have functions they can see and hear. Minute repeaters are mechanisms that sound out the current time on demand when activating the system using a series of chimes. What separates a “good” from not-so-great minute repeater is the quality of the sound, as well as the complexity of the notes.
The Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon watch uses a carbon fiber case, which adds an unique element to the minute repeater dynamic. Why? Well typical precious metals like gold or platinum are terrible for minute repeaters, because they act to absorb the sound of the chimes. When Hublot first debuted this in-house made Hublot caliber HUB 8001 movement in 2010, it came in a titanium case – which is much better for transmitting the sound of chimes. So when I learned that Hublot took the same watch and produced it in carbon fiber, I was very curious to hear how it sounded – especially given the deep resonance of their impressive “Cathedral Minute Repeater” movement.
How does it sound? Pretty good. We have a video that allows you to more or less hear the minute repeater in action. You’ll notice that the sound is deep and rich, and that it resonates pretty well through the case. This is about as good as you can hope from a watch that actually has some water resistance. The thing people need to understand is that minute repeaters of yesterday sounded better than many of those today, because those wrist and pocket watches were not water resistant. Today’s watch owners demand a level or durability in their timepieces and part of that means water and dust resistance. So historical minute repeaters sounded great because sound could freely travel out of the case, while today’s minute repeaters are often very quite because of materials like gold and platinum used to make the case, as well as the fact that the cases are at least somewhat water resistant.
We’ve seen a lot of unique solutions to sound issues over the last few years and non is far and away “the best.” Some watches have gongs directly attached to the sapphire crystal and others have special resonance chambers. With the Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon, you have a relatively straight-forward solution, and that is to use carbon fiber as the case material. This isn’t actually the first time Hublot has paired a minute repeater with a carbon fiber case, but I believe the previous model was with a King Power case and a movement that also included a chronograph. It looks much more elegant here with the Classic Fusion case.
At 45mm wide, the Classic Fusion case is the most “conservative” of all the Hublot cases. Those who like carbon fiber will notice how well Hublot is able to integrate the material into the case dial with perfectly angled weave patterns – this is something which is not actually easy to accomplish. I’ve gone back and forth with my taste for carbon fiber over the years. I’ve decided that while I am not a huge fan of carbon fiber on dials (for the most part), cases made of carbon fiber are pretty cool. They are also really light in weight which adds to their appeal.
The minute repeater activator lever is “hidden” on the case as the left lateral insert. Slide it up, and you’ll “covertly” activate the minute repeater. The movement also features the time as well as a 60 second tourbillon. The Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon watch doesn’t have the most legible dial in the world, but it does have an actual ring of hour markers – which you don’t always get with dials which are just the movement.
The HUB 8001 movement is very nice to look at and feels its value, with modern yet traditional finishing and a lot of interesting things to look at. When people complain to me that Hublot is just a high-end fashion brand, I share with them stuff like this. Sure it doesn’t make Hublot suddenly conservative and justified in its many sometimes spurious relationships, but it does show a more “watch nerd friendly” side to the brand.
The in-house made HUB 8001 movement is manually wound with 5 days of power reserve operating at 3Hz (I believe). Hublot actually claims that it has a “double Cathedral chime,” probably because it has two gongs. The movement is further produced from 319 parts – which is relatively efficient for such a movement.
In its modern carbon fiber case, it is difficult to predict who the type of customer for the Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon is going to be. On the one end, you have a high-end tourbillon minute repeater movement, and on the other end, you have a sports-oriented 45mm wide carbon fiber case. I suppose that is what we can most expect from Hublot – watches that cross lines and attempt to intersect with a few interests. It is the brand which promotes “the art of fusion” after all. Limited to just 50 pieces, the Hublot Classic Fusion Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon watch ref. 504.QX.0110.LR will be priced at $276,000. hublot.com