A Hublot watch that predicts eclipses

imageThe Antikythera Sunmoon MP-08 (reference 908.NX.1010.GR) by Hublot was presented as a limited edition of 20 pieces, price $272,000, at Baselworld 2013, and it’s an impressive piece of watchmaking. Its inspiration is the Antikythera, a mechanism found in the remains of a ship off the island of Antikythera in the early 20th century. Ever since, scientists have been trying to understand the functions of this “complication” built in about 150 B.C., a mass of corroded gears, and they have concluded that it was an astronomical calculator, possibly used for navigation.

In 2011, Hublot presented the Tribute to Antikythera, created by their designer Mathias Buttet and his research and development team. It was intended as a reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism in the form of a watch, and they made just four pieces, reflecting the state of research on the original Antikythera due to Hublot’s commitment to the Antikythera Research Group. One of these pieces can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Athens alongside the ancient mechanism. The Tribute is a ferociusly complex timepiece with 495 components, displaying information on the position of earth and moon in relation to the sun and the stars, and so it becomes a predictor of solar and lunar eclipses. The 2013 Sunmoon MP-08 (the MP refers to Hublot’s Masterpiece collection) makes things just a little simpler.

This watch has 295 components, in a movement housed in a large (about 48 mm) cushion-shaped case in satin-brushed and polished titanium, featuring the H-motif screws that can be found in other Hublot watches. Hublot actually means “porthole” and the impression is that of looking out to the night sky through a small circular window. The time functions are relatively easy to find, with two white skeletonized hands that resemble pen-nibs. A tourbillon at 6 o’clock shows the seconds. There are two crowns, each with a crown protector that swings upwards. One crown is used for winding the watch and setting the time, the other is used for the calendar and astronomical functions.

The movement, Hublot calibre HUB9008, provides a solar calendar, a lunar calendar, the position of the sun and moon with respect to constellations, and moon phase. The large central hand showing constellations revolves very slowly, taking a year to complete one circuit of the dial. In a circular window, the moon phase is shown. This hand could be described as the “sky position” hand, as it provides a depiction of the night sky as it changes throughout the year. The tip of the hand marks the zodiac sign, shown on the innermost ring of markings. The other hand, with a small sun, is the “solar hand” indicating the earth’s position in its orbit around the sun, and so it points to the calendar ring from which you can read month and date. The combination of the information given by the two hands can be used to gain more information on astronomical phenomena such as eclipses.

The back of the watch is also interesting, with a design resembling the Ancient Greek Antikythera and its large central wheel. Twin barrels give the timepiece a power reserve of 120 hours. An extraordinary piece by the relatively young brand, founded in Switzerland in 1980 by Carlo Crocco, and now part of the LVMH group.

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The ancient Antikythera, in an electronically enhanced image, courtesy of http://dlib.nyu.edu

The ancient Antikythera, in an electronically enhanced image, courtesy of http://dlib.nyu.edu

 

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