Hublot goes tonneau. Fans of the brands have been asking for a non Big Bang or King Power inspired watch for a long time. Something is finally here, and this is just the first of more to come. This is the first Hublot Masterpiece collection (Ref. MP-01), and will be a range of higher-end Hublot timepieces with in-house movements that will be positioned between standard Hublot watches and the ultra high-end Confrerie Hublot timepieces. The Masterpiece MP-01 will be limited to just 100 pieces.

When I look at this watch I almost don’t recognize it as being an Hublot. So typecast are they as being the Big Bang group that it is hard to get my mind around this, but it is finally here. I continue to say this, because the biggest concern have had for years over Hublot is when they will start to get new models. According to Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot, part of the wait had to do with their desire to focus on making more in-house movements and improving production quality and processes. As you know, Hublot has been steadily trying to make themselves much more of a true manufacture. While they won’t be making all of their own movement, it looks like 2011 will see a number more in-house movements over 2010.

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The Masterpiece MP-01 is very unique for the brand – though fans of high-end modern Swiss watches will see where Hublot was influenced. I wasn’t expecting to see this watch in person, and I had the wrong camera lens with me! I will try to get some better pictures if possible, but you get a pretty good idea of what the watch will look like. I do say it looks better in person than its marketing images would have you believe.

Hublot made this watch big. Oddly enough I don’t have exact measurements, but the case is at least 48mm wide and over 55m tall – if not more. The case is in satin and sand-blasted titanium, with black composite resin. There is a little red rubber in the crown where the monopusher for the chronograph is. Overall the case it quite light. You can’t deny that Hublot is aiming for Richard Mille a bit here with the price, shape, and visual complexity of the dial. You can see some Hublot design DNA in the shape of the lugs and the sides of the case.

The dial is hard to explain, but highly architectural and deep looking (love that perforated look on much of it and the caseback). The subsidiary seconds hand at the bottom of the dial is actually a spinning disc and almost looks like a tourbillon (but isn’t). Then you have the two chronograph subdials put right next to each other like eyes staring at you. You’ll really have to see the dial for yourself to investigate all the little details.

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As I said, the movement is 100% new and in-house. It is also quite neat looking. No official reference number for the Masterpiece’s movement, but it is manually wound, has 240 hours of power reserve (with a power reserve indicator on the back of the case through the sapphire exhibition window), and has a 30 minute monopusher chronograph. Both the seconds and minute counters for the chronograph are in subdials. Hublot is also proud of the fact that the movement itself is highly curved – a feat not too simple to accomplish.

With the new design (that interestingly doesn’t have an Hublot logo on the dial), in-house movement with 10 days of power reserve, and an obviously complex looking construction, the Masterpiece collection looks address several issues that Hublot fans have been demanding from the brand. It also means we will be seeing more higher-end Hublot timepieces as the brand flexes their manufacturing muscle, rather than churn out easier to make things like some other brands. I am told that the Hublot Masterpiece MP-01, limited to 100 pieces, will retail for about $80,000.

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