Without a doubt, the biggest name in Formula 1 and fast cars is Ferrari. Flamboyant and innovative, Ferrari needs a watchmaker that lives up to its reputation. After partnering with Girard-Perregaux and then Panerai, Ferrari found perhaps the perfect fit, a watch brand on par with the carmaker’s prestige and aura: Hublot.
Every discussion about cars will, eventually, encompass Ferrari. Whether it’s ultra-fast supercars, classic sports GTs or cutting-edge Formula 1, the aura of the Italian brand is immense. To partner with Ferrari requires boldness, but also technological expertise; the LaFerrari hybrid masterpiece deserves more than a round case and a three-hand movement.
Since the 2013 Formula 1 season, when the F1 timekeeper contract went from Hublot to Rolex, the Scuderia Ferrari team took on Hublot as an official sponsor. But the bond between the two cutting edge engineering firms is not limited to the racing team. Ferrari as company, including the road car division, is teaming up with Hublot, resulting in watches inspired both by F1 and supercars for civilians. The pinnacle of this collaboration was reached this year as the Italian car manufacturer celebrates its 70th anniversary, making it the perfect occasion for Hublot to go all out with its watches.
The first watch launched prior to the 2017 Formula 1 season was the Big Bang Ferrari Unico, powered by the in-house chronograph movement of the same name. Based on the classic Hublot design, the new watches were an evolution of the style, featuring more curves and a bolder aesthetic.
Yet, references to Ferrari abound in the details: the case middle features a red stripe, recalling the iconic groove to the rear of the LaFerrari model, while the elongated push-buttons are fixed to a rotating staff like the pedals on a car, and the rotor recalls the alloy wheels of Ferrari road cars. Similarly, the strap combines Alcantara and red stitching just as on the seats of a Ferrari, while the 30-minute counter modelled on the dashboard panel and the Prancing Horse logo is prominent at six o’clock.
Even more cutting edge was the second watch in the series, by far the most advanced watch born of the Hublot and Ferrari collaboration: the TechFrame Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph.
The TechFrame Ferrari was conceived by the Ferrari Design Centre in Maranello and executed by Hublot in Nyon. The watch is truly a collaboration between watch- and carmaker, the result of bona fide team work between the two, from materials to construction to design. The TechFrame Ferrari (which is available in three versions) represents everything both brands embody: engineering, innovation, creativity, maybe even excess, all powered by complex mechanics where form follows function. In it the expertise of two great firms have been combined into a single object.
Created with the same approach as for an automobile, the TechFrame is viscerally anchored in the Ferrari’s DNA, combining resistance, high performance, striking aesthetics and lightness. As with a car, everything starts with the “engine” – here a movement by Hublot – around which a frame is built, just like a car’s chassis. Just like a supercar, the goal was to have maximum strength with the minimum weight – especially evident truer on the carbon and titanium versions of the TechFrame.
Inside the lightweight case is quite an “engine”: the purpose-built calibre HUB6311. Equipped with a tourbillon visible at four o’clock for the precision (with the upper bridge being a sapphire crystal for a clear look at the mechanical ballet), 5-day power reserve, and a mono-pusher chronograph with column-wheel. The movement is the horological equivalent of a V12.
On the right side of the case, the chronograph pusher is testimony to the work done by Ferrari and Hublot to create an advanced sports watch. Activated by a bright red pivoted lever, the pusher has been strategically placed and shaped to optimize its use, even when driving at high-speed. Of course, the dial has been conceived to give instant readability.
The Hublot TechFrame Ferrari 70 Years will be as rare and collectible as the cars it pays tribute to, with only 70 pieces produced in each material: carbon composite, King Gold and Titanum.
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Frank Geelen – The Netherlands
Frank Geelen is an expert on Haute Horlogerie and beautiful hand-finished mechanical movements make his horological heart beats faster. He loves to explain all technical details of complications like tourbillons, minute repeaters, constant force escapements and column-wheel chronographs and he has been doing that for nine years.