March 29, 2017
by Kenny Yeo
Hublot dances to its own beat, does the things it wants to do, and makes the watches it wants to make. That’s always been true, but some of their latest creations drive the idea home more and more. One of the most talked-about watches at Baselworld 2017 has to be the new Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis watch we first covered here, and it’s designed all around showing off its tourbillon movement. In fact, I don’t think it’s an accident that the hour and minute hands here could fit into what really could be a sub-dial on any other watch. It’s a showcase on the wrist that’s quite unconcerned with the practical and typical constraints that come with being a “timepiece.”
To give some context, Hublot’s MP collection is home to some of their most creative and out-there watches. The first MP watch was the MP-05 LaFerrari of 2013 which displays the time using a unique barrel system and has an insanely long power reserve of 1,200 hours – that’s 50 days! The brand then released the MP-07 last year, which also displays time using a unique barrel system and has a shorter, but no less impressive, power reserve of 1,000 hours or 40 days. So what is the new Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis watch all about?
As you can see, the new Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis watch begins with a traditional case design, builds a special crystal display case for the bi-axis tourbillon at 6 o’clock. It is unlike any other case out there, and I think it looks very cool. It is also especially difficult to make as the case is so quirky, but more complex to manufacture is the sapphire crystal, which is a single piece and has three sides and needs to made to conform with the shape of the sharply arching case. It’s unrestrained and represents Hublot’s dedication to both movement and construction innovation that has to be respected.
In execution, the effect of the case and glass makes for wonderful viewing of the bi-axial tourbillon. The tourbillon is a fast spinning one, which, together with the curved sapphire crystal, makes for exciting viewing. It makes a single rotation per minute on one axis, and a rotation every 30 seconds on the other axis. Considering that tourbillon is French for “whirlwind,” it is a particularly apt description in this instance.
The dial itself is quite peculiar too with the only thing “normal” being the small sub-dial that displays the time, which is located at the top right. It is partially skeletonized, of course, and has two hands indicating the hours and minutes. Legibility isn’t the best, if I’m honest, and that’s mainly because the hands are short and it is difficult to distinguish them from the hour markers themselves, mainly because they are done in the same black and white style. But, who on earth wears this watch to actually tell the time anyway?
The date, fortunately, is easier to read. In place of a typical date wheel, under the dial for the time are two arching rows of numerals. And the date is indicated by a white disk that travels underneath the numerals that highlights the date. To correct the date, there’s a lever at the left side of the case, at 9 o’clock, which you simply push up to advance, or down to go back. This is a mechanism that shows off the creative innovation and design at Hublot, and one can imagine that the enthusiasm in the design studio is just through the roof.
To the left of the date indicator is the power reserve indicator, which looks like a fuel gauge, so that’s also cool. What is less cool is the label there that says “5 Days Power Reserve.” It’s a power reserve gauge, you only need to know when power is running low, and when it does you simply wind the watch. No need to proclaim the length of the power reserve, I think. I would rather the label say the model of the watch, “MP-09,” for instance. But, after writing this, I realized that this isn’t a watch designed with any kind of “editing” involved, and the large, italicized font on a red background is 100% done to be eye-grabbing.
The Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis has a large case that measures 49mm wide and 17.95mm thick, and it will be available in three variants, all of which are limited editions. There’s a titanium version, a King Gold version, and a titanium version with diamonds. The one that we managed to get our hands on was the titanium one.
Of course, none of this would be possible if not for the fact that Hublot is a manufacture that designs and builds its own movements. And indeed, this is one point that Hublot is keen to impress upon everyone. The heart of this watch is the new caliber HUB9009.H1.RA – not the sexiest of names, I know. What is sexier, however, is that it is comprised of 356 components and that it beats at 3Hz with a power reserve of 120 hours or 5 days. It is also well-finished – not in the classical style, but in that unique industrial style that characterizes Hublot movements. Much of the movement is anthracite and it has beveled anthracite bridges, circular graining on the wheels, polished teeth, and a finely polished tourbillon cage.
Reminiscent of a Hublot Big Bang watch that had an encounter with a Tourbillon obsessed version of the Borg from Star Trek, the Hublot MP-09 Tourbillion Bi-Axis is youthfully experimentative with design but very serious in methods and construction for its case and movement. In many ways, it kind of feels like you have a miniature fish bowl or aquarium on your wrist, but instead of fish, you have a complex tourbillon display. Obviously, like many other Hublot watches, not everyone is going to love it, but since I like quirky, offbeat stuff, I dig this piece. The Hublot MP-09 Tourbillon Bi-Axis is priced at $169,000 in titanium, $211,000 in King Gold, and $190,000 in titanium and diamonds. The titanium version is limited to 50 pieces, while the King Gold version is limited to 20 pieces. hublot.com