With the limited-edition 2010 King Power Ayrton Senna (ref. 719.QM.1729.NR.AES10), Hublot celebrates the 50th anniversary of the legendary Formula 1 driver and 3-times F1 world champion Ayrton Senna da Silva who died at the wheel of his car sixteen years ago at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix race. As usual, the ultra-luxury chronograph arrives in a ridiculously huge case that combines ultra-lightweight carbon fiber, scratch-resistant ceramics, and not so much good taste.
The more I see Hublot watches, the more I feel that the young Swiss brand is moving in the wrong direction.
Of course, both the general public and people with hard cash in their fat wallets love sporty watches with their cases made of forged carbon, or ceramics or some other exotic and not particularly pleasant to look at materials designed to withstand enormous pressure or heat, or both.
They even pay for those.
However, the problem is that, unlike traditional timekeepers that will never go out of fashion, the high-tech sporty models are like MTV pop stars: they seldom top popularity charts for more than a couple of weeks.
To stay in business, Hublot and the likes have to churn out more and more extreme versions of their hits, getting closer and closer (at least, visually) to Japanese quartz monsters that are fifty times cheaper, infinitely more accurate, packed with functions, and only require you to change batteries once in four or five years, if at all.
The King Power Ayrton Senna is close to the line where it will become an expensive clone of the iconic Casio G-Shock family that is not only reliable but also: affordable.
Sporting the same design as the rest of the King Power family, the new chronograph overcompensates the lack of fresh ideas with exotic materials, such as Nomex (a flame-resistant meta-aramid material widely used in making circuit boards and firefighting equipment) for a strap, as well as forged carbon fiber and perforated ceramics for the case and bezel respectively.
The power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock with its blue, green, and red dots is inspired by the world of Formula 1 but looks miserably kitsch and cheap.
The pair of black chronograph totalizers is practically lost on the black skeletonized dial that provides a superb view at the inner works of the HUB4247 column-wheel chronograph movement (it is a slightly modified ETA Valjoux 7750 ebauche as you have probably already guessed,) but ultimately kills the chronograph’s legibility.
It is good that Hublot is trying to be aggressive playing on the field currently dominated by Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore family of sports chronographs, but it seems that attempting a flank attack, the Swiss brand has wandered far too far to the territory controlled by the Japanese forces.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Hublot King Power Ayrton Senna (ref. 719.QM.1729.NR.AES10) specification
Price: $36,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber HUB4247 (base ETA Valjoux 7750,) automatic, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, split-second chronograph, power reserve indicator
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Carbon fiber
Bezel: Perforated black ceramic
Bezel shape: Octagonal
Size: 48.00 mm
Case height: 18.80 mm
Dial: Black, skeletonized
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black rubber and Nomex strap with contrasting yellow stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, etched “Ayrton Senna” inscription in black and yellow