Hublot and Takashi Murakami have collaborated on three pieces already and they are some of Hublot’s best offerings in terms of craft (price and availability notwithstanding). For the Only Watch charity auction, the pair have crafted another piece that not only introduces us to an inventive case design, but also the brand’s first central flying tourbillon movement with the MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Only Watch Sapphire.
This is a 1-of-1 piece that once again makes a strong argument for watches as art. One of Hublot’s strengths has been its ability to pair with artists to create incredibly unique pieces and nowhere is this clearer than the implementation of Murakami’s signature smiling flower motif.
Instead of featuring the flower on the dial, the flower is the entire case. At 42mm and 13.4mm in height, the case is made up of twelve petals set with 444 coloured gemstones arranged in a rainbow gradient. The rainbow doesn’t end there as each indice is lume-filled with a different colour.
The central tourbillon was considered a “difficult challenge” for Hublot as “it becomes very complicated to indicate the hours and minutes which compete for the same central position”. The design required “the cannon pinion and the hour wheel had to be pivoted around the tourbillon support by creating a co-axial construction.”
The smiley face is laser engraved onto the domed sapphire crystal that envelops the central tourbillon to appear as if it’s suspended in mid-air.
Despite the artistry involved, the watch actually has a water resistance rating of 30m. You wouldn’t want to take it swimming, but you don’t have to worry about getting it a little wet.
The manual movement also boasts an impressive 150-hour power reserve which you can peek at through the exhibition caseback.
As part of the Only Watch auction to raise money for children battling against muscular dystrophy the watch will also be sold with a calligraphic artwork partner piece.
“I decided to return to [calligraphy], working directly on my used coffee filter paper, which is a very good base for the ink,” said Murakami. “This enabled me to create unique calligraphy, ‘Time of Rainbow,’ inspired by the unique watch I have designed with Hublot for Only Watch 2023.”
Estimates for the sale range from CHF 350,000 – 400,000.