Hublot’s iconic Big Bang focuses on the “Art of Fusion” by combining objects and materials that don’t appear together under normal conditions. Check out ROX’s interactive guide to the Hublot Big Bang and explore the contrasting components that make up this striking natural masterpiece.
CREATING THE BIG BANG
You can’t get very far talking Hublot and its iconic Big Bang without mentioning the name, Jean-Claude Biver. Something of a Swiss watchmaking legend, this larger-than-life and refreshingly outspoken character has certainly earned his right as ersatz spokesman for his industry, as he can be credited for almost single-handedly reviving the Blancpain name in the Eighties, selling it back to Swatch Group for a song, and kickstarting the renewed interest in mechanical watches. After a similarly phenomenal turnaround at Omega, Biver was helicoptered into ailing Hublot in 2004.
Despite being one of Switzerland’s youngest brands, it had found itself stuck in a rut, still trading solely on its odd combo of vanilla-scented rubber strap and porthole design. To inject new life, Biver was too clever to engineer a false or borrowed heritage as so many revived old brands have done. Instead, he embraced the collision of traditional watchmaking with the future, “fusing” high-tech materials with mechanical timepieces, distinguishing Hublot in its own right as the ultimate contemporary watchmaker. And the Big Bang was and still is the posterboy for this “art of fusion”.
Its uncompromising proportions and Riviera bling giving Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore a real run for its money, and quickly put the Big Bang on the Christmas lists of every self-respecting CEO or footballer. The partnerships that Biver’s marketing genius forged has yielded some far-fetched watches too, from Ferrari to Paris Saint-Germain and Kobe Bryant.
The result of all this? Sales at Hublot increased more than fivefold between 2004 and 2007, a record that enticed LVMH, the luxury-goods conglomerate, to buy the firm a few years later. The ribbon has now been cut on a huge extension to the factory, and the Big Bang special editions continue to come thick and fast, always limited enough to keep collectors hungry or – when they’re lucky – very satisfied.
It’s not all fur coat and no knickers though – the purpose-built factory’s R&D team spent two years on a proprietary chronograph movement, and the result, the “UNICO” calibre looks set to be a classic, rock-solid workhorse of the modern era. The finely engineered mechanics look great through a skeletonised dial, too. Hublot’s reputation for materials science has also been fired by the Big Bang’s success – literally in the case of “Magic Gold”, a virtually scratch-proof, ceramic-infused 18-carat metal, forged in-house, which’ll ensure your chunky bit of wrist-candy stays pristine, despite the inevitable knocks and scrapes.
Dismantled at Hublot’s service centre in Manchester, the full extent of the Big Bang case’s and the HUB4100 movement complexity is immediately apparent. Laboriously milled out of stainless steel in this case, the 44mm model comprises five case rings components, not counting their adjoining gaskets, strap anchors, plus the bezel in black ceramic and the sides are made from Kevlar. It’s this modular jigsaw puzzle of interchangeable parts that makes the Big Bang such an easily customisable construct, allowing an almost infinite spectrum of limited-edition permutations.[su_quote cite=”Darren Lee – Hublot’s Head UK Watchmaker”]It’s intelligently designed, all the components are effectively bolted onto a central container, making it watchmaker-friendly[/su_quote]
Then there are the details. Without its round bezel’s six “H”-shaped screws, it could look like any other generic pretender to the Big Bang’s throne (and there have been many since 2004). But there are few watchmakers of Hublot’s calibre who’d (a) bother with such small flourishes, and (b) who boast the engineering clout to manufacture such intricate screws, then finish them so finely.
This is a modern classic of a watch, which ain’t going anywhere fast.
To see the incredible detail and the individual parts that go into the piece click here, or, to learn more about luxury watches read ROX’s guide which provides everything you’ll ever need to know about high end timepieces.
The Big Bang has paved the way for all subsequent Hublot model styling themes. If you were going to own any Hublot watch, I would say this is the essential model to have.
I was lucky enough to test drive this world renowned Hublot. and it sure lived up to the hype. Starting off with the stainless steel clasp, a component that is both beautiful, and cleverly engineered as it features a Hublot formed swing arm with a slash cut of the Hublot logo as the lower body of the clasp. Moving up the piece we come to the rubber strap which is a long time Hublot speciality. The inner of the strap is smooth and supple against the skin as opposed to the outer where the natural vulcanised rubber is decorated with an effective quadral pattern cut supporting the main attraction of the dial and case superbly.
Finally, steel, ceramic and titanium are blended like nothing I’ve ever seen, before a woven carbon fibre dial steals the show. You can feel the many intricate components that are expertly put together and, in my opinion, the assembly of the case here is incredibly intelligent. I feel like I can see how the piece was constructed, everything is on show and I think that has a powerful impact when having the watch around my wrist.
One of my personal favourite parts of this exquisite timepiece is that the bezel repeats the quadral pattern portrayed on the strap which blends the separate entities of the watch wonderfully. On top of this, the bezel also boasts 6 ‘H’ shaped titanium screws reinforcing the piece as an iconic Hublot.
Overall, when I’m wearing the watch I’m wearing a mix of materials that don’t necessarily work in conventional sense, but I’m wearing the ‘Art of Fusion’, and it works.