I’d like to take you through what I consider Hublot’s unsung hero of this year, the Hublot MP-08 Antikythera Sunmoon. Hublot took the watch world by utter surprise back in October 2011 when they revealed their most complex movement to date at the time, the Antikythera. A miniature homage to the ancient and mysterious Antikythera mechanism of Greek antiquity, the Antikythera not only took Hublot back in time to an epoch no other watchmaker could claim, but it also demonstrated what Hublot’s R&D team headed by Mathias Buttet were able to achieve.
The original Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the shipwreck of a vessel off the shores of Antikythera in Greece decades ago. A long with other treasures like statues and ornate vases, the mechanism immediately became a thing of enigma. Although the mecahanism was broken into fragments and heavily corroded, scientists were able to deduct that it dated back to 150BC and that it served as a precise astronomical calculator, as well as an astronomical navigation system, since celestial bodies were often used as a reference point in determining geographical positions. The mechanism has the oldest known complex gear mechanism and is often referred to as the very first analog computer” in human history.
The things is, as the movement was fragmented and heavily damaged after a millennia or two under the sea, it was difficult for researches to find out just how complex this mechanism was. In fact, we still don’t know exactly what indications the original Antikythera displayed, as scientists are still discovering new gears and wheels deep within the unrecognizable mass.
So in fact the original Hublot Antikythera movement is based on research up until 2008, and from what I hear there have been some major developments since. Hublot is so committed on furthering the research and collaborating with the Antikythera Research Group that they’ve hired Yanis Bitsakis who headed the research up until then as a full-time member of Hublot’s R&D team. You can count on the fact that we’ll be hearing a lot more about the Antikythera mechanism from Hublot in the future.
Now let’s get back to the watch. One of the main criticisms of the original Hublot Antikythera mechanism was that it was perhaps far too complicated and complex for most of to understand. While true to the original mechanism that displayed information like the earth’s position relative to the sun and celestial bodies, the moon’s position relative to the earth and sun (thus predicting solar and lunar eclipses), the moon phase, the current astrological zodiac, and much more. However, the movement also provided information no one really cares about like the Metonic and Soros cycles.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter, as the original Hublot Antikythera movement and subsequent watch will only be made in 4 examples, and only one will ever be available to the public in an upcoming charity auction.
Hublot then decided to make the Antikythera mechanism available in a more simplified form for Baselworld 2013, and thus the Hublot MP-08 Antikythera Sunmoon was born. I say simplified, but after all how simple can you make a mind-boggling ancient Greek astronomical calculator? In any case the MP-08 was one of the most interesting watches from Hublot in a while, yet it went relatively unnoticed during Baselworld, most likely due to its show-stopping relative, the MP-05 LaFerrari.
So, how does it compare to the original Hublot Antikythera movement?
As far as the movement, you have around half the number of complications and components (295 components and 7 complications vs. 495 components and 14 complications on the original). This wasn’t only done to make the Neo-Anikythera more accessible, but also to reduce the movement dimensions into one that could fit into a more easily wearable watch case. The movement is fitted with a bridged tourbillon and twin barrels that provide a maximum power reserve of 120 hours. From the case back, the hand-finished ruthenium plated matte and satin-brushed movement greatly resembles the ancient Antikythera mechanism with its large central gear.
Besides the hours and minutes, The MP-08 Neo-Antikythera SunMoon provides the following indications: a complete perpetual solar calendar, a lunar calendar, the position of the sun and moon in the night sky relative to constellations, the shape or age of the moon, the name of the constellation behind the Moon and the time required for the Moon to pass through a constellation, as well as the constellation located behind the Sun and the time required for the Sun to pass through a constellation.
The square case is also a first for Hublot, done here in satin-brushed and polished Titanium with the same sandwich construction and “H” screws you’d find in other Hublot lines like the iconic Big Bang. I like the juxtaposition between the square case and round aperture; giving the impression of looking through a porthole (the English translation of the French word “hublot”) at a clear night sky.
Limited to only 20 pieces, the MP-08 is a fine example of just how far Hublot has come in terms of being a full-fledged manufacture capable of pushing the boundaries. As far as astronomical watches go, this one deserves a spot near the top.