There’s an engraving on the caseback of a recent, typically high-concept MB&F replica watch – or rather “horological machine”, as the brand’s eponymous founder Max Busser would have it – that says: “A creative adult is a child who survived.”
A sentiment we can all get behind, surely. But beyond the Anime, science fiction and cartoons of Busser’s childhood, which have been his direct inspiration, the remaining trappings of youth from the 60s and 70s hardly translate successfully to a serious bit of replica watchmaking without looking like a Flik Flak bearing a hefty pricetag.
Lego? Too placky and blocky. Etch-a-Sketch? Too tricksy in wristwatch size. Gollywogs? Too racist.
Meccano, however? Now you’re talking. Its struts, panels, nuts and bolts all beg to be rendered in micro-mechanical scale as the bridges, plates and screws of a cheap replica watch movement.
In fact, it’s a wonder that a replica watchmaker hasn’t thought of this long before, given that the current generation of replica watch designers are almost too young to remember Meccano in its heyday (it does still exist, though like the still-popular Lego, its complexity and ability to realise your own creations has been watered down). All there’s been is Greubel Forsey’s model of its Double Tourbillon, made in 2002 to explain the new brand’s very complicated signature mechanism (Stephen Forsey is pictured above with said model).
So hurrah for Hublot, who has made the logical step with MECA-10 – creating a new, in-house movement in the process, HUB1201. And while this skeletonised, PVD-blackened, highly three-dimensional movement has been inspired by Meccano, it manages to look and feel more ‘Hublot’ than any movement before. Like Richard Mille’s stripped-back, F1-inspired hyper-complications, it’s the perfect marriage of “chassis” and “engine”.
Two parallel barrels provide a useful 10 days of juice, metered-out by the circular subdial at 6 o’clock, itself connected via the rack and pinion at 12 o’clock. At 3 o’clock, meanwhile, an opening gradually reveals a red spot during the last two days of charge, to warn you that a wind-up is imminent.
The MECA-10 would be enough for the most diehard Hublotista, but a sneak preview was also afforded at Basel of the latest in its conceptual Ferrari complications: the MP-07.
The original MP-05 was a response to the LaFerrari hybrid hypercar, boasting an extraordinary 50 days’ power reserve, thanks to 11 winding barrels, coupled in series down the “spine” of the replica watch, like an engine block. This time, 9 series-coupled barrels are stacked along the wrist, giving 42 days’ power – for a princely £191,000. Not so much a replica watch as, to borrow a Busserism, a horological machine, sure to bring the child out in anyone.