There’s something about Hublot replica that’s larger than life, just like the man behind the revival of the brand and the Big Bang revolution, Jean-Claude Biver himself, who remains today chairman of the house of fusion, on top of running Tag Heuer and the LVMH watch division. Under his guidance since 2004, Hublot has revisited its founding principles and sales have soared. It has its fingers in every pie imaginable through an extensive range of collaborations and celebrity ambassadorships – you name it, you can be sure Hublot is already a part of it. While some may see it as diluting the message, Biver defines it as “concentration in diversity”, going where potential clients may be found. Rather than focusing on just one domain, it actively sponsors and partners activities in countless fields, including the worlds of motor racing, football, tennis, sailing, golf, polo, skiing and athletics “because our customers are not concentrating on only one activity, event or sport. Therefore, wherever our customers go, they must meet us. Whatever event they like, they must meet us.”
It seems like there’s no limit to the breadth and pace of Hublot’s output, working rapidly and reactively. But look beyond the surface, the glitz and the countless new models that come out every year, and you’ll see there’s plenty of substance, creativity and technical innovation, as it places utmost importance on cutting-edge technology and research and development. Having recently added new industrial capacity to its Nyon manufacture through a 20-million-Swiss-franc investment that doubled the surface area of its production space by adding 8,000 square meters, it produces approximately 40,000 timepieces per year, makes its own screws, axles and gold, ceramic and carbon cases, develops new materials and components, and has one of the world’s most impressive series-produced integrated column-wheel chronograph movements, the Unico, which has become the pillar of its watchmaking capability over the past five years and will continue to grow in importance. In addition, the integrated manufacture has created numerous other in-house calibers incorporating high complications, such as a cathedral minute repeater tourbillon, an ultra-thin skeleton, a triple calendar moon phase, an alarm repeater and a skeleton chronograph tourbillon, conferring upon it an undeniable watchmaking legitimacy. Then there are its super-complications, including the LaFerrari family of timepieces, which are in a whole different league.
Bringing together Ferrari’s technical capabilities in both GT and Formula One engineering, the limited-production hybrid LaFerrari boasts the most extreme performance ever achieved by a Ferrari road car and the most advanced and innovative technical solutions that will eventually filter down to the rest of the brand’s range. Hublot’s original uber-futuristic MP-05 “LaFerrari” watch from 2013 paid tribute to the eponymous supercar, showcasing its unique and ultra-complex architecture thanks to the close collaboration between the designers and watchmakers working on the Hublot replica watch movement and Senior Vice President of Ferrari Design, Flavio Manzoni. The watch was developed technically and esthetically in parallel with the car, alongside the Ferrari teams. Breaking the record for the highest number of components in a Hublot caliber to date (637 in total), the bold, shaped manual-winding tourbillon movement 100 percent designed, developed and manufactured internally features an astonishing 50-day power reserve – the result of its 11 series-coupled barrels set in a spine formation down the center of the timepiece and interconnected so that they do not each discharge in turn but support one another.
The case in black PVD titanium showcases a complex sapphire crystal echoing the LaFerrari car’s outline and an open caseback, topped by a titanium and carbon insert in its middle revealing the winding crown, while the time-setting crown is located beneath the case. Wholly incorporated into the design, both are virtually invisible. Hours and minutes are indicated on anodized black aluminum cylinders on the right side of the dial, and the power reserve on the left, with reinforcing bars made from anodized Ferrari red aluminum on either side. For easy time reading, the size of the numerals on each aluminum cylinder has been enhanced with white SuperLuminova. Available on a rubber strap with a black PVD titanium folding buckle, the 50-piece limited-edition watch comes in a presentation case made of Schedoni leather and carbon fiber, containing motoring-inspired watch-winding tools.
Raphaël Nussbaumer, Hublot’s Product & Purchase Director, describes how the LaFerrari car inspired the replica watch, “The movement’s architecture is inspired by the V12 engine of the LaFerrari car, and the sapphire glass is like the opening at the rear of the car. As the LaFerrari is an exceptional car thanks to its design and mechanical performance, what both Hublot and Ferrari wanted to achieve with the MP-05 ‘LaFerrari’ timepiece is a complex case with the same curves as the LaFerrari car, but adding something unique: we came up with the idea of the power reserve. Our teams worked hard to achieve a 50-day power reserve, which is still the world record in haute horlogerie. The idea was to create a movement with a structure inspired by a Formula One engine. The number of barrels had to guarantee a minimum power reserve of 1,200 hours with a tourbillon cage. The research, development and adjustment of the final product took 24 months by two engineers and one model-maker.” Subsequent variations in titanium and yellow gold limited to 50 and 20 pieces, respectively, were launched in 2014, and a stealthy all-black version with gray luminescent numerals restricted to 50 pieces in 2015.
Now Hublot replica has come out with a fully transparent version called the MP-05 “LaFerrari” Sapphire with a case carved entirely out of sapphire, the hardest material after diamond (following a trend that we’ve been seeing by other watch brands in recent years, and fake Hublot has even released the brand-new fully transparent Big Bang Unico Sapphire), and a movement that appears to float within and can be viewed from every angle – a concept that it has dubbed “visible invisibility”, a fusion of two opposites. Nussbaumer notes, “The idea came from Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, to present, again, an exceptional piece allowing us to highlight the movement of the MP-05 ‘LaFerrari’. A sapphire watch case is the material that has been chosen to unveil this unique in-house movement thanks to the complexity in its shape and dimensions. Moreover, the idea behind this timepiece was to play with the visible and the invisible and present the heart of the timepiece like suspended in the air to admire it 360 degrees. Eye-catching, its apparent invisibility is fascinating – it makes it a highly visible and desirable object.”
Composed of seven components machined from seven blocks of sapphire, a complete case takes over 600 hours of work to manufacture. The result of 18 months of development, the case weighs 53.5 grams, rather light for a watch of this size. Nussbaumer explains the main challenges of sculpting the case out of sapphire crystal, “Producing a case with such forms is a technical achievement because we had to create it out of a sapphire block, grind it, polish it and treat it to make it less fragile. We can say that it is currently the most complex sapphire piece ever made in watchmaking.” Showing off an original display, the 45.8 x 39.5-mm HUB9005.H1.PN.1 movement with a frequency of 21,600 vib/h houses a suspended vertical tourbillon and a bridge inscribed with the word “Hublot”, which the engineers carved into the sapphire. In its vertical position, the small seconds are displayed via a transparent cylinder fixed on to the suspended tourbillon cage that has an oversized diameter of 14.50 mm. The hours and minutes positioned to the right of the barrels and the power reserve to their left are also displayed via transparent cylinders.
Retailing for CHF500,000, the timepiece comes on a transparent silicon strap with a deployant clasp that contains components made from sapphire and micro-blasted black-plated titanium, and is wound by a mechanism using a miniature power drill, imitating the tire-changing tool used in Formula One. Nussbaumer says, “The MP-05 ‘LaFerrari’ Sapphire watch is limited to 20 pieces and can be bought all around the world. The target of this kind of timepiece is mostly men, of course, because of the dimensions. It is dedicated to luxury replica watch lovers who like unique designs but are also interested in innovation and precision. Of course, Ferrari fans really enjoy this watch thanks to its design and close link to the LaFerrari.”
The collaboration between Hublot and Ferrari actually stretches back five years. In November 2011, Hublot became the worldwide official watchmaking partner of Ferrari in a comprehensive agreement covering not just the creation of replica watch collections, licensing or sponsorship, but the full range of Ferrari’s activities. It is the Official Watch and Official Timekeeper of Ferrari and Scuderia Ferrari, Official Timekeeper of the Ferrari Challenge and partner of Ferrari’s special events. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, former Chairman of Ferrari S.p.A., commented at the time, “Exclusivity, technology, passion, style: Hublot and Ferrari share many core values and this new partnership between two such highly-prestigious brands is an important milestone for both.” Biver describes the origins of the partnership, “It was in fact a mutual idea between Lapo Elkann and myself. We came up with the idea after we met in Saint-Tropez several years ago. But it was Lapo who called me back and suggested we meet again and study seriously what could be done between our two brands. We have the perfect match of two important luxury brands, two successful brands, two high-tech and avant-garde brands.”
Five months after the announcement, Hublot unveiled its first luxury replica watches designed in partnership with Ferrari at BaselWorld 2012. The Big Bang Ferrari in Magic Gold (scratch-resistant 18-carat gold) or titanium fuses the DNA of Hublot and Ferrari: innovation and performance. An indexed crown features elongated push-buttons, fixed along a rotating axis like the pedals in a car, while carbon inserts give the case a distinctive look. The minute counter showcases hands and indices that recall a Ferrari dashboard, the date window is in Modena yellow and the legendary prancing horse is featured in relief at nine o’clock. The timepiece comes with two interchangeable straps (featuring tone-on-tone stitching echoing Ferrari’s signature upholstery craftsmanship) with an innovative quick-change system inspired by the safety seatbelt mechanism. The column wheel and dual horizontal coupling on the dial side of the in-house manufactured self-winding Unico movement appear in a new constellation reminiscent of Ferrari alloy wheel rims, and each watch’s presentation box is inspired by an engine valve support with a built-in rotary system.
Nussbaumer concludes with why Hublot’s ongoing partnership with Ferrari remains essential to the brand, “The collaboration between Hublot and Ferrari is very important for us. Both teams work hand-in-hand in order to propose to our clientele the best in terms of products, but also in terms of sharing emotions. We certainly gain awareness through our Formula One presence with Scuderia Ferrari. Moreover, we focus on our customers and elaborate our partnerships in accordance with the interests of our clients to better suit their needs and expectations. On top of that, our Ferrari partnership extends to all aspects of Ferrari: Scuderia Ferrari and Corse Clienti with the GT Championship, with a close relationship with the Ferrari Design Team to create the Big Bang Ferrari timepieces. Therefore, this is a long-term partnership. This is unique.”