Just for those who are into cars as much as into watches (Heck, I am one of them!) the Ferrari 458 Speciale is a beefed-up, “this one goes to 11” version of an already awe-inspiring car. The affix “Speciale” was first designated to the 458 Italia’s predecessors, the 348, 360 Modena and F430.
Compared to the stock 458, the Speciale receives an engine update, aerodynamic upgrades, a cosmetic stripe down the center of the car and extended use of weight saving materials. A 35 bhp increase, a 90kg drop in weight, and one tenth quicker to 60mph are the prime results of these adaptations.
Where most car manufacturers try to improve a 6 to a 7, Ferrari seems to try to go from a 10 to an 11, or even maybe a 12. Always skipping one or two steps and offer a car that seemingly pushes the boundaries of engineering even further and do things that were considered impossible before. Even though the speed and power war between sports cars manufacturers is an ever present one, I do feel that the past couple of year’s things have moved forward in an extremely fast rate. This is most definitely not a bad thing, because 10 years ago cars like the 458 Speciale or the bonkers LaFerrari (The Ferrari TheFerrari according to ex-Top Gear’s James May) wouldn’t have been possible.
Moving from the car to the watch, it immediately stands out that a lot of design cues from the car have been transferred to the watch. The most obvious being the matching strap, with either a white-blue or a white-grey racing line from end to end. The same racing line runs along the center of the car, from bumper to bumper, as a clear distinction from the standard 458. Furthermore, the mesh used for the various air-intakes and grills on the 458 Speciale are mimicked on the dial, a trick we have seen on more than one occasion with racing- or car-inspired watches. To set off the limited edition piece even more, a polished prancing horse is placed upon the dial, and one of the pushers features a Ferrari-logo in red or grey.
The 45mm wide case is constructed from black ceramic, with a satin or polished finish on various surfaces. The black ceramic bezel features six trademark H-shaped screws in black titanium, with a red composite resin lower bezel. The highly scratch-resistant material Hublot uses is a zirconium-oxide mixture. Starting with a powder, pigments are added to obtain a certain color, the mixture is injected in a mold, which is then baked under intense heat and pressure, or pressed into a pre-formed cast. Either way, the result is a material that is extremely hard and durable. Hublot is also exploring new varieties or composites with ceramic, for instance bright red or yellow ceramic or their Magic Gold composite claiming to be the only scratch-resistant gold alloy in existence.
Inside the black or grey case ceramic case you will find the HUB 1241 Unico automatic flyback chronograph movement, developed in-house by Hublot. The story behind the movement is quite interesting, finding its roots from the now defunct BNB Concept. Parts of BNB Concept’s assets were purchased by Jean Claude Biver, including machinery and the lead designer Mathias Buttet. One of the results of the partial take-over is the Unico movement, developed to replace and reduce the number of Valjoux 7750 movements used in Hublot timepieces.
The HUB 1241 Unico movement is built up out of 331 components. It measures 30mm in diameter, and 8mm in height. It operates at a rate of 28.900bph and has 72 hours of power-reserve. The movement has a 60-minute chronograph with flyback function, allowing it to snap back to 12 o’clock instantly after resetting the chronograph. It also includes a skeletonized date wheel, indicated through the date window at 3 o’clock. A nice touch is the yellow piece beneath the window in the same color as used in the Ferrari logo. The yellow is the official color of the city of Modena, the birthplace of the brand. Of course both front and back are covered by sapphire crystal, and the caseback allows a big view onto the movement and the wheel-like rotor. One more, albeit less stand-out hint to the design of the car.
The Hublot Big Bang Ferrari 458 Speciale Ceramic comes on a black rubber and red or grey leather strap and a separate black leather strap. Both colorways are limited to 250 pieces, and are available at a price of 24.800 Euros.
Ferrari is one of the most prestigious, if not THE most prestigious car manufactures to partner with. Their fanbase – for both road cars as well as their racing team earns them a devoted following of tifosi around the world. Over the past few decades the link between Ferrari and high-end watches has been as hair-raising to watch as a Formula 1 race! Hublot is a brand that made an initial splash in the early 80’s with their rubber-clad sport watches – but did not get the attention they deserved until the grand-master of the industry, the inimitable Mr. Biver took to the helm. Indeed, he created a cultural phenomenon out of Hublot with its porthole shaped cases. It is nice to finally see the elite carmaker paired-up with a watchmaker that can match them not just in styling and performance but also in the luxurious and pride of ownership stacks.