INTRODUCING: Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire
This quirky yet high-tech model offers a fascinating interpretation of a central flying tourbillon through the startling beauty of crystal-clear sapphire.
Considering the immense cost of producing unique pieces submitted for the Only Watch charity auction, it makes perfect sense that watch companies use this biennial platform as a testing ground for novel ideas and concepts that might one day make it to serially produced pieces. That process can sometimes take a few years, but Hublot took just a few months to release a 50-piece limited edition of the MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire. Ordinarily, such releases would follow the charity auction’s conclusion, but due to the postponement of this year’s edition to 2024, one can understand why Hublot simply couldn’t wait that long.
While the multi-hued MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire was quite beautiful, with its flower-shaped sapphire case fitted with 444 coloured gemstones on outstretched petals, the new version emphasises the startling beauty of clear sapphire. Hublot’s aim was to create absolute transparency to maximise the watch’s luminosity; the case, caseback, and crown are in clear sapphire, and the flange is entirely transparent. The brand’s idea was that light would not merely shine on this floral work of art but pass straight through it. Measuring 42mm in diameter – which, all things considered, is not that big – it reportedly sits with remarkable comfort on the wrist owing to its integrated rubber strap.
Hublot has designed its central tourbillon without an upper bridge, and skeletonising all its components makes the entire movement look like it’s floating. The time is indicated by two peripheral hands, which literally pass beneath the tourbillon cage. Since the escapement and the hour and seconds hands are vying for visibility in a single central space, the canon pinion and hour wheel had to be pivoted around the tourbillon support by a co-axial construction.
The complexity of this watch belies its readability – standard markers enable it to be read naturally and easily. Twelve white indexes appear on the flange, while black-plated hands with white Super-LumiNova coating guarantee perfect legibility both day and night. Additionally, like the rainbow gem-encrusted Only Watch piece, the heavily domed sapphire crystal that sits above the tourbillon has been given eyes and a mouth, so the watch takes the form of Murakami’s famous smiling cartoon flower character.
Since the new Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire is a fully transparent version of the Only Watch timepiece, the same engine was chosen to power it. The in-house Calibre HUB9015, which Hublot created specifically for this collaboration based on Murakami’s request to work on a centrally mounted tourbillon watch, has a truly impressive power reserve: 150 hours.
Fully winding the watch manually would take anyone a long time – imagine the number of rotations of the crown you’d have to make – so Hublot reconsidered this process entirely. The watch is supplied with a special electronic winding stylus (rechargeable via USB socket) that, once placed on the crown, winds through 100 revolutions smoothly and effortlessly until both barrels driving the timepiece are fully wound.
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