The 2011 Hublot F1 King Power Ceramic (Ref. 703.CI.1123.NR.FMO10) automatic chronograph was officially presented during the 2011 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Featuring the usual for the King Power line exaggerated design that looks like it was *ahem* influenced by that of a performance brake disc, the chronograph is deliberately brutal offering a nice -if a bit over the top- alternative to a ubiquitous Rolex Daytona if you don’t mind it being powered by anything more impressive than a slightly refinished ETA 7750 chronograph caliber.
As I have already noted once, China is deemed to be one of the most important markets for the Western brands that make luxury goods.
Whether you sell ultra-expensive cars or ultra-expensive underwear, you have to treat this booming market with the highest degree of respect if you plan your business to survive for another decade.
Although Swiss watchmakers have their share of problems with local counterfeiters that produce counterfeit Rolexes, Omegas and Patek Philippes by millions and sell them for at 1/100th of the price of a real thing, they still invest a lot of time and energy in order to gain a foothold on the local market.
While the Italian Panerai offered local customers a “lucky” but otherwise completely unremarkable PAM 366 Fu edition, the Swiss-based Hublot paid its homage with a limited edition of its flagship King Power automatic chronograph.
Presented in a high-tech micro-blasted black ceramic case that measures almost intimidating 48 millimeters in diameter, the F1 King Power Ceramic features all the elements of their new F1 series: a perforated brake disk-shaped bezel, a Nomex strap, and F1 logos just about everywhere.
The F1-inspired ceramic chronograph push-pieces with rubber inserts are also in their rightful place. The one at 2 o’clock operates the start function and is colored red and the one at 4 o’clock is here to reset the chrono and is colored black with red inscription RESET.
The new timepiece is animated by the same HUB 4100 self-winding movement that also powers their Hublot F1 King Power India (Ref. 703.OM.1138.NR.FMO10), as well as a number of other chronographs with the same functionality. Of course, this is not an in-house caliber, but just a re-branded version of the good old ETA Valjoux 7750 ebauche.
The movement is also heavily decorated.
While most Swiss watchmakers tend to adorn their calibers with Geneva stripes and/or different kinds of engine-turning, Hublot (at least, when it comes to the sporty watches) takes the other route.
The movement in question features micro-blasted, beveled and polished bridges and a black PVD-coated winding rotor with a heavy segment crafted from an even denser carbide that ensures better winding efficiency. The main plate is decorated in a more traditional way: it is rhodium-plated and circular-grained.
According to Hublot’s press release, the watch is going to be issued in a limited edition of only 500 pieces. It will probably be expensive. But that’s okay for a country whose citizens buy Rolls-Royces like cheeseburgers.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Hublot F1 King Power Ceramic (Ref. 703.CI.1123.NR.FMO10) specification
Price: $27,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber HUB 4100, 252 parts, 27 jewels, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Black PVD rotor; micro-blasted, beveled and polished bridges
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date at 4:30
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Micro-blasted black ceramic
Bezel: Black ceramic, perforated
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 48.00 mm
Dial: Black with red accents
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Adjustable black rubber and Nomex strap with F1 logo and red stitching; King Power micro-blasted black PVD titanium deployant buckle, cap in micro-blasted black PVD titanium, decorative plate in micro-blasted black ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Micro-blasted black ceramic