Crystal Clear: The Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire
Hublot releases its first-ever serially-produced central flying tourbillon housed in an all-sapphire, flower-shaped case co-developed with renowned contemporary artist Takashi Murakami.
Whimsical, for sure. After all, Murakami has been dubbed the “Andy Warhol of Japan” and is known for his pop-arty multi-colored flower art. The Tokyo native has duly imbued this latest collaborative effort with his signature, smiling 12-petal motif.
“Ethereal” is definitely the word to describe the MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire. That’s because said flower doesn’t just appear on the dial, as it has on the artist’s previous joint creations with the watchmaker; rather, the fully transparent sapphire crystal case, bezel, and caseback take the form of Murakami’s curvaceous, floral design, with a domed sapphire center – complete with its twinkling eyes and broad smile – acting as the flower’s cheerful pistil.
It is also an undeniable technical achievement. For under that sapphire dome lies Hublot’s first-ever serially-produced central flying tourbillon. It forms part of the new in-house HUB9015 skeletonized movement whose double barrels – manually wound via a special stylus – provide just under a full week of power reserve.
And finally, it is wearable and surprisingly readable. Indeed, for such an out-there piece that seemingly eschews all practicality and rationality, the MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire measures only 42mm by 13.4mm, making it a pretty good fit for most wrists.
On top of that, the indices – placed on a translucent resin flange – and “peripheral” hour and minute hands are all blackened and filled with white Super-LumiNova, making reading the time as crystal clear as the sapphire that encases this watch.
“Up until now, my work has focused on color. It was a really exciting challenge to start a whole new chapter focusing on absolute transparency. The forms and volumes are perceived completely differently,” says Murakami of this new MP-15.
He continues: “With Hublot, we were able to preserve the individuality of my floral motif, but with a unique and different identity which was purer and perfectly in tune with Hublot’s mechanical universe. I’m very proud of the result!”
When Murakami talks about “absolute transparency,” he’s not kidding. In addition to its limpid case made from polished sapphire crystal, the crown is also crafted from the same material. What’s more, the strap is made out of transparent rubber, while its deployant buckle is made from titanium and – you guessed it – sapphire crystal.
Let the Light Shine In
And with “absolute transparency” comes considerable luminosity. As well as being a work of art in and of itself, the MP-15’s sapphire housing is designed to let light shine through (and eyes gaze upon) the “mechanical universe” that the artist alludes to.
It’s not by chance that this MP-15 features a central flying tourbillon (i.e., one without an upper bridge), nor that many of the 236 movement components have been pared down to the bare essentials: The goal was to create a sense of airiness and floatiness that begins with the billowy case.
Behind the aesthetic effects, though, there is some fine technical trickery at play. For example, to accommodate the escapement and the hour and minute hands – which are all jockeying for position in a single central space – Hublot’s movement constructors have pivoted the cannon pinion and hour wheel around the tourbillon support by creating a co-axial construction. The result is that the hands pass beneath the tourbillon cage instead of above it, like, we’d guess, 99.99% of all other tourbillon-equipped timepieces do.
While the movement’s double mainspring barrels provide an impressive 150-hour power reserve, it also means that the crown must be turned 100 times until both barrels are fully wound.
However, if that sounds like an excessive workout for your opposable thumbs and index fingers, fret not: Hublot has made the winding ritual easier for owners by supplying a USB-rechargeable stylus with the watch that is placed on the crown to quick winding.
The Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire (Ref. 915.JX.4802.RT) is a numbered 50-piece limited edition and priced at CHF 300,000, excluding taxes.
For more information, please visit the Hublot website.