14 August 2017 marked 29 years since Enzo Ferrari breathed his last. But while the man himself is no longer among us, it is undeniable that his legacy will prove him immortal for many generations to come. Of course, the greatest evidence of this fact is nowhere more prominent than in the Maranello based producer of super-cars that bears his name: Ferrari.
Ferrari turns 70 years young in 2017. And in the time it has existed, more than pushing engineering boundaries, its influence in culture, film, the arts and theatre has been extensive, to say the least. Ferrari has even proved to be a source of inspiration for many a watchmaking brand. It is, however, fair to say that in many instances, watches made to reflect the values of Ferrari have resulted in rather predictable creations. That is until Ferrari themselves forged a partnership with the one and only, Hublot, which resulted in a watch such as the MP-05 LaFerrari.
But how has Hublot managed to create that which transposes Ferrari into a watch, in such an unexpected manner? Could it be that it’s because, Hublot stands today as one of very few brands in watchmaking that has successfully made itself relevant in universes far from its own — much like Ferrari?
Hublot’s partnerships with sports and music icons, supermodels and all-out trendsetters creates the possibility to pursue special-edition watches that not only honor these alliances, such that the brand — and its watchmaking — becomes visible in these arenas, but every so often it also creates opportunities for the brand to look at its approach to watchmaking through fresh eyes. And sometimes, in extremely special circumstances, more than just allowing their name on a new Hublot watch, these individuals also walk alongside the brand to conceive a new timepiece with their own art form and profession imbued.
The most recent example of this is without a doubt the Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph. This watch was created in the stables of Hublot in Nyon, Switzerland, but quite clearly dreamt up and designed in the stables of Ferrari in Maranello, Italy. Why and how are we able to make such a bold statement? Simply because the Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph was, in fact, designed from the ground up by Ferrari’s design team, under the guidance of design head Mr. Flavio Manzoni.
Melding of Two Worlds
For Revolution, the story of this creation began back in November 2016, when our founder Wei Koh met with Mr. Manzoni and heard firsthand about his impact on Ferrari in his six years with the brand and, of course, about Ferrari’s partnership with Hublot.
At the conclusion of that interview, Wei Koh asked Mr. Manzoni the following question, point-blank: “Ferrari has a strong connection to Hublot and we know you and the design studio have been working on a special watch for Ferrari’s 70th birthday. Can you tell us a bit about this?”
Mr. Manzoni’s response then was, “We always welcome the possibility to transfer the Ferrari DNA and our design approach to another category of product; in this case, a watch that is characterized by a very complicated and sophisticated movement.
“It was nice to see the start of this project. We had a kick-off meeting with Jean-Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe. We opened the doors to our modeling studio and they saw the LaFerrari model that was under construction.”
He then went further to describe the design process, saying, “The initial idea was to create a watch with a sort of aerodynamic shape. And I said, ‘Please don’t make this mistake. The aerodynamic language of LaFerrari comes from certain necessities and objectives. We cannot just repeat a form like this; it would be too rhetorical. Too banal.’
“But if we were going to create a watch, I thought we needed first to understand the engineering concepts behind it before we decided on the right shape to be conveyed to the object. My intuition was the similarity between our LaFerrari engine, the KERS [Kinetic Energy Recovery System] behind the gear box, for example, and the incredible language of the Hublot masterpiece watch movement.
“So, I proposed we show the engine as we do in our cars, making the engine of the movement a kind of jewel to be displayed under the glass. We repeated more or less the same principle using a curved sapphire with a shape that recalls the rear screen of LaFerrari.”
Following that conversation, we’ve had the privilege of catching up with Mr. Manzoni at Baselworld 2017 and witnessed the very watch he was speaking of on his wrist.
Shared Mr. Manzoni, “This was for me, a project of passion. When we initially took on the project, we were working on supercars like the LaFerrari and J50. At that time, the opportunity to collaborate with Hublot presented us with a very unexpected possibility to apply our vision, our approach to design, and transfer that into a watch.
“Of course, it’s not like we found a rhetorical relationship that we could apply into the watch, say, for example, the aerodynamic shape of a Ferrari. But there is this concept of lightweight that we brought to the watch that has been taken directly from our car-designing approach.”
Mr. Manzoni then directed our attention to the watch movement — its engine — beneath the sapphire glass, and thus confirmed what he had shared with us last November. Then he moved on to described the lightweight case his team and he had designed, which was borrowed from the design books of Ferrari.
“The case of the watch is a very lightweight frame, which recalls the frames we design for our cars that are often a combination of different materials coming together. This sort of design holds a kind of intrinsic beauty that arises from formulating very functional structures,” said Mr. Manzoni.
When probed about where these design inspirations come from, beyond just his work at Ferrari, he explained that he’s often moved by the ingenuity presented in science-fiction movies, which helps him to imagine into the future. One particular production, which he said had inspired his designs such as that of the Hublot Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph, was the ’70s TV series, Space: 1999.
He went further then to explain why the case design was of particular importance to him, saying, “When you see a Ferrari, you visually see a very lightweight car. A LaFerrari’s body, for example, is characterized by a volume, which is achieved by subtracting material from within it.
“But even with the lightness that the LaFerrari conveys, it still manages to weigh down with incredible power and emotion. And I think in the Hublot Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph, we’ve managed to bring this thought matter over.
“There is a kind of lateral thinking that we managed to transfer into the process when we designed the Hublot Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph that is taken directly from the way we approach design at Ferrari.
“I’m not sure an expert in watch design could go with such an approach. It was beautiful how passionate my team was about transferring our design philosophy. It was serendipitous the way in which my team had managed this.”
For more on Ferrari, head over to www.Ferrari.com