The Hublot Big Bang watch has more than its fair share of detractors. Some say it looks too much like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph. Others take issue with the fact that there are so many variations. And yet others still don’t like the underlying sense of crassness. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, of course. One thing that isn’t up for debate though, is the overwhelming popularity of the Hublot Big Bang. A lot of people love this watch, in all its various iterations. Surely, that can’t all be down to the marketing genius of Messieurs Jean Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe. Can it? Or is it possible that the Hublot Big Bang is actually a good watch too?
A (Very) Brief History Of The Hublot Big Bang
In 2004, turn-around specialist Jean Claude Biver became a minority shareholder in Hublot. He took on the role of CEO. Although popular in the 1980’s and early 90’s, the company had become stagnant. It needed new life breathed into it. As such, Biver’s first major step was to introduce a new flagship model: the Hublot Big Bang Chronograph.
The design took inspiration from the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph. Launched a decade earlier, it was already a certified success. This was not well received by watch collectors. They criticised the lack of originality and perceived inferior quality. The wider market however was seduced by the use of exotic materials and bold colours. The ‘Art of Fusion’ as Biver called it. It did not take long for the Big Bang Chronograph to become a hit.
The popular opinion was (and largely still is) that these were watches for the nouveau riche. People who had recently come into money and were desperate to let everyone know about it. Understated elegance was not the order of the day here. Hublot was all about making bold statements. This was further emphasised by the fact that every model was available as a limited edition.
Biver also invested in developing the company’s manufacturing capabilities too. That’s why today Hublot is one of the few vertically integrated watch manufacturers. This means it makes most of the components used in its watches in-house. This includes the movements.
Indeed, over the past few years, Hublot has proven itself to be highly innovative. The company has debuted new materials, like red ceramic and Magic Gold. Not to mention complex mechanical movements. For example, the MP-05 “LaFerrari” boasts a tourbillon movement with a record-setting 50-day power reserve. Designed, developed and produced by the Hublot Manufacture, it comprises 637 components.
So, how does this expertise translate to the Hublot Big Bang?
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium 42mm
For the purposes of this article, I have narrowed the focus down to one watch. If you’ve ever taken the time to look at how many Hublot Big Bang watches there are, you’ll appreciate this was no easy feat. In any event, the watch I have chosen is the Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium 42mm Ref 441.NX.1170.RX. I think this watch is a good representation of the Hublot Big Bang in its purest form. Meaning it’s not a limited edition and doesn’t have some crazy colour scheme.
As the name suggest, this Hublot Big Bang comes in a 42mm case made from titanium. The design is an evolution of the original ‘Hublot’ model from 1980. That watch took its inspiration from a ship’s porthole. Not unlike the veritable Patek Philippe Ref 3700 from almost a decade earlier. The case is satin-finished and polished and boasts a multi-component “sandwich” construction. Contrasting with the titanium is an anodized black aluminium lower bezel.
The case has a definite luxury sport watch feel to it and is well sized at 42mm x 14.5mm. It doesn’t have the wrist appeal of the Rolex Daytona 116500LN , but it is a comfortable and good looking watch. The upper bezel is also in satin-finished and polished titanium. It’s held in place by 6 H-shaped titanium screws. The screws do not follow a uniform alignment, which is often a sore point for purists.
The dial on this particular version is completely open-worked. That means you can see right down into the movement beneath. Satin-finished and microblasted rhodium-plated hands display the hours and minutes. Running seconds are on a subsidiary dial at 9 o’clock. A mixture of large, Arabic numerals and baton markers denote the hours. Everything is treated with luminescent material for visibility in low light.
A central, red-tipped hand tracks the chronograph seconds. It’s counter-weighted by the Hublot ‘H’. Stopped minutes appear on the 60-minute counter at 3 o’clock. There’s also a cut-out for the date. It’s not the most conventionally designed dial but it’s still legible and it works well with this style of watch.
Inside is the HUB1280 UNICO Manufacture Selfwinding Chronograph Flyback movement with Column Wheel. It consists of no less than 330 individually assembled components. This includes an integrated flyback chronograph with a column-wheel mechanism. It’s positioned such that it’s visible on the dial side of the movement, which is unusual.
It took four years to design and develop the Unico movement. It’s considered a milestone achievement for Hublot. By no means the most complicated movement Hublot manufactures, it is a solid workhorse. Visible through a sapphire caseback, it offers 72 hours of power reserve.
Is It A Good Watch?
On paper, I think you would have to say yes, the Hublot Big Bang is a good watch. It’s well made, boasts a manufacture movement and has strong brand recognition. That doesn’t mean it’s going to hold its value like other models in the luxury sport watch category though. Recommended retail in the UK is GBP 14,700. If you’re savvy, you can find one on the secondary market for closer to GBP 11,000.
For those with larger wrists, the Hublot Big Bang is also available in the original 45mm case.
Technical Specifications: Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium 42mm Ref 441.NX.1170.RX
- Case: 42mm x 14.5mm thick – satin-finished and polished titanium – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment and HUBLOT Logo printed on the inner Side – waterproof to 100 metres.
- Dial: matt black with rhodium-plated upper layer – satin-finished indexes with white luminescent – satin-finished and microblasted rhodium-plated hands with white luminescent coating.
- Movement: HUB1280 UNICO Manufacture – self-winding chronograph – flyback movement with column wheel – 330 components – 72-hour power reserve.
- Bracelet: Black structured lined rubber strap with titanium deployant buckle clasp.
- Price: GBP 14,700.