November 6, 2010
by Ariel Adams
In 1994 a terrible accident during an F1 race in Italy caused Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna to die. I believe that he was the last person to die during a Formula 1 race, and has been a testament to the needs of caution and safety in the work of super-fast racing circuits. Since his death, lots of new safety regulations and technology have been implemented to make the world of competitive racing safer.
Recently an event was held in his honor, to raise money for charity via the Instituto Ayrton Senna. Hublot, a long time partner with many drivers as well as the official timepiece maker of Formula One was there to offer two new limited edition timepieces. The event would have been Senna’s 50th birthday, and at the event was a debut of a new documentary film about his life called “Senna.” The film is being carried by Paramount Pictures, having been developed by Working Title and Universal together. Might be something we find in theaters soon.
The two limited edition Ayrton Senna watches from Hublot are quite interesting. Hublot here has been able to showcase a few new things. The first of which are all carbon-fiber versions of their King Power watch cases. Often times cases will have carbon fiber inserts, but theses 48mm wide cases are in all carbon fiber, though part of Hublot’s typical sandwich construction. This in a sense is Hublot’s answer to Audemars Piguet’s forged carbon cases on some of their Royal Oak Offshore watches. While the cases are carbon fiber, the bezels are in matte ceramic and made to look like disc brakes. The screws and crown are PVD black titanium.
As I said, there will be two Hublot Senna watches. The first is the “Hublot King Power Ayrton Senna.” In almost all black, the watch is 48mm wide with a black Nomex (with yellow stitching) strap, and yellow elements in the hands and hour indicators. The skeletonized dials shows off part of the HUB4247 automatic movement – which is neat. For instance, the column wheel for the chronograph is right there on the dial. Despite the skeletonized interior of the dial, it is still easy to read given the large applied hour indicators. The movement has the time, split second 30 minute column-wheel based chronograph, and a power reserve indicator. This latter feature is particularly handsome as done in color dots. Hublot placed Senna’s signature in yellow, right over the subsidiary seconds dial. The watch is extremely cool looking with 500 pieces available.
I really do look forward to checking out these all carbon fiber Hublot cases. I am curious as to just how light they are, as well as the tactile feel they have under the fingers. These pieces also seem to have very intricate pushers. For example the start and stop pusher for the chronograph has a Senna logo placed in it, while the Hublot logo is int the crown. The execution of the piece is very thorough, and somehow avoids feeling cheesy.
The second of the two limited edition pieces is much more limited and has another interesting quality. Limited to just 10 pieces, the “Hublot King Power Tourbillon Ayrton Senna” has a different caseback for each piece. If you look at the image gallery here I show you the 10 casebacks. Each is an image from a different point in Senna’s life from the early 1980s to 1993. The pictures are emotionally rich points in Senna’s driving career and were chosen by members of his family specially for the timepieces. The individual images on the caseback crystal are a nice idea from Hublot, and certainly will add desirability to the piece for Senna and F1 collectors.
Inside the King Power Tourbillon Ayrton Senna is a tourbillon movement made entirely in-house at Hublot in its Confrerie Horlogere department (that is responsible for making Hublot’s most complex haute horology movements). The HUB6300 movement has a flying tourbillon, column-wheel based monopusher chronograph, power reserve indicator, and time with subsidiary seconds dial. The flying tourbillon captures your attention in the lower part of the dial, with the subsidials being up top – once again you can see the exposed column wheel at the top of the dial in this instance. Like the split-second chrono model, there is a dot style power reserve indicator. The colors for the power reserve indicators are even applied in color SuperLumiNova. So with all the colors on the dial, these must look like spaceships glowing at night. The HUB6300 movement has a power reserve of up to 120 hours.
The Tourbillon Ayrton Senna is really quite a show stopper. I quite like the in-house made movement and the design. The yellow strap is also Nomex but here has green and blue stitching – clearly a signal to the Brazilian flag. As a testament to Ayrton Senna’s life, regretful death, and continuing legacy – these two limited edition Hublot watches are well done, and the special casebacks on the tourbillon model feel meaningful. Hublot and F1 collectors will be hard pressed to pass these up.