It was back in 2011 when the original Hublot La Clé du Temps (The Key of Time) watch was first debuted. Later that year, I got to go hands-on with the odd Hublot watch that allowed its user to “control time.” The basis of the Hublot Key of Time watch is with Hublot’s Mathias Buttet, who arrived at Hublot after his company BNB Concept went out of business during the financial crisis. I don’t need to tell the story again, but clicking on the above links will give you additional information. For 2015, Hublot releases another flavor in La Clé du Temps’ family with the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time Skeleton ref. 912.ND.0123.RX watch.

In my opinion, this is the best looking Hublot Key Of Time watch to date. Well, at least the coolest looking. This is one of the most unique and weirdest luxury watches currently being made, and it takes a lot of courage to even consider wearing a piece like this. I will say this, however: despite the unorthodox shape of the case and the oddity that is the movement’s exotic complication, wearing the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch – whether it is this skeletonized version or otherwise – is an amazingly comfortable experience. Seriously, if I needed to wear the Hublot MP-12 Key of Time Skeleton watch on a daily basis, it would be no problem.

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Do I need to say one more time that the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch looks like Hublot’s best attempt yet at creating a science fiction device for the wrist? The futurism of the concept is world class, and for these ultra exclusive Hublot models, little expense is spared in devising interesting and complex ways to wear and enjoy a timepiece. Perhaps the most successful example of what I am referring to is with the slightly more mainstream and probably more commercially successful Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari watch collection. The entire shape of the Hublot LaFerrari case is meant to look like an engine bay, it has a power reserve of 50 days, it uses a drill to set the time and wind the 11 mainspring barrels, and I have yet to meet anyone who can read the time on it without an explanation.

Like the Hublot MP-12 Key of Time, the (later produced) Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari watch has a vertically-oriented tourbillon which is visible from the lower side of the case. While you can disagree, in my opinion, the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari and Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watches are close relatives. So what again is the exotic complication of the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch? The movement has the ability to display time as being sped up by four times or slowed down by four times. That means you can set the watch to show that four minutes have elapsed after only one minute has elapsed… or show that only 15 seconds have elapsed after one minute has actually elapsed.

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Why would you want this complication in a timepiece? Well, let me first say that even though the dial for the time might show the time as being sped up or slowed down the movement inside of the watch always keeps track of the “correct” time, so at least you don’t need to totally screw up the utility of the watch by playing with its complications. That still doesn’t answer what utility “time control” has. As a practical person who is enamored with tool watches and accuracy, I am probably the wrong person to ask. I spoke with Hublot years ago about this watch and the concept of the time control movement is purely romantic. It just goes to show that you can find romance in the oddest of places…

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Ironically, when Hublot first released the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch (even though its movement has been around for a while) Hermes also released the Le Temps Suspendu watch – a timepiece that allowed you to literally stop the watch from showing the time, and then switch back. Why? Romance. If you define romance as mixing reality and fantasy for a more favorable view of the world – at least for a moment – then you understand the romance that I am referring to. I am not going to bother attempting to illustrate romantic situations where using the aforementioned Hermes watch or the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time is particularly appropriate (imaginations are best called upon for that). I am however attempting to give you the correct mental perspective to imagine how you might use an Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch in the right situation and setting. I’d like someone to someday share a story about using the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch and then ending it by saying “you just really had to be there… it was the right time and the right place.” I should certainly hope so…

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For an extremely high-end watch, I am deeply enthused that the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch has both an interesting case and movement. The case is produced from bead-blasted and then black PVD-coated titanium. I am not sure of the actual size, but given its unique dimensions I am not sure you could really use them to judge how the watch fits on your wrist. Of course, the watch is wider than it is tall, which helps, but it is also thick. With that said, it has an amazing integrated rubber strap which feels wonderfully comfortable. If you’ve worn a Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch before, you know how comfortable it is, if you haven’t, then try it out sometime.

The case design isn’t what I would call beautiful, but it is cool. Hublot has rendered Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time in all sorts of ways over the years and this Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time Skeleton is my favorite because of how well everything works together (in my opinion). I also like the dial design which is both legible and skeletonized. The in-house made Hublot caliber HUB9012 has never looked better both on the front and rear of the case.

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You can see that the HUB9012 uses two crowns for the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch. The crown on the right is used for setting the time and winding the watch, while the crown on the left is used to speed up or slow down time… as well as return the time to normal. There is an indicator on the dial which tells you what time control mode the watch is in to avoid even further confusion. The Hublot HUB9012 movement is manually wound and comprised of 512 parts. The time speeding and slowing down system, in a sense, operates like a modified chronograph mechanism and is controlled via a column wheel.

The HUB9012 movement also features a tourbillon, as I mentioned, which is fully visible from the bottom side of the case, but from the top of the case, it functions as a seconds indicator. The balance wheel operates at a frequency of 3Hz, and the movement has a total power reserve of 120 hours. There is also a power reserve indicator on the dial which is both useful and much better represented in the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time Skeleton watch versus some of the earlier versions.

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It should not come as much surprise that the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time Skeleton 912.ND.0123.RX “All Black” watch will be produced as part of a rather small limited edition. This new skeletonized look will likely endure for the collection moving forward with future iterations of this design. The open movement look helps pretty-up the strangeness of the Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time watch, which I hope remains an exotic treat for special types of watch collectors. Would I ever own one? Probably for the novelty value, but that presupposes I know what it is like to be a collector able to spend several hundred thousand dollars per watch – a position in life I have yet to achieve.

The reference 912.ND.0123.RX Hublot MP-12 Key Of Time Skeleton watch is limited to 20 pieces and is priced at $288,000.

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