Say what you want about Hublot but the truth of the matter is that the brand truly knows how to make a grand entrance. And I say this because Hublot kicked-off their debut at Watches & Wonders with a formidable timepiece that somehow managed to bring together pretty much everything the brand is known for: their iconic Big Bang case; material innovation (with a specialty in sapphire cases); a truly remarkable high complication movement and now an integrated bracelet in sapphire, as well.
This outstanding piece of watchmaking is a limited edition of 30 pieces and fully demonstrates the brand’s Art of Fusion concept. Hublot’s prowess in terms of materials development cannot be understated, and this one watch may be one of their top accomplishments. When Hublot launched its first sapphire case watch in 2016, it became the leader in this category. From that moment on, we’ve seen reference upon reference highlighting new advancements with each arrival: more colors, increased production volumes, capricious shapes… it’s like they can do everything. And it has to be said that thanks to Hublot, sapphire manufacturing within the industry is no longer challenging.
Meet the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon, a timepiece where both the intricate case and its integrated design bracelet are almost entirely made of sapphire. And it also has a tourbillon movement to boot. Indeed, Hublot has come a long way, and that should be commended. “For such an exceptional creation, we opted for the new automatic tourbillon caliber with sapphire bridges, whose transparency gives us an incredible spectacle”, said Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO. “Creating an integrated sapphire case and bracelet was considered impossible. But we were the first brand to master sapphire to perfection and also industrialize it for mass production. It took us five years to create our first sapphire cases and almost as long for the bracelet. Producing both with sapphire crystal and integrating one into the other represents the ultimate expression of the in-depth work carried out by all Hublot teams”.
The 43mm case of the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire was explicitly developed to house the automatic HUB6035 tourbillon movement. During the process, the brand had specific goals – to eliminate virtually all visible screws, rework the case’s geometry to add the sapphire bracelet, and redesign the bridges and plates to make them appear to be suspended in space.
The making of the new crystalline wristband was a big challenge, as it included 165 components, 22 of which are made of sapphire. To meet the aesthetics and ergonomics’ needs, each type of component followed a specific design and manufacturing process. Consider the novel small titanium inserts that accompany each sapphire link and that have been perfectly integrated so that they do not protrude from each link, resulting in a clean and smooth combination.
As for the movement, the in-house developed automatic caliber HUB6035 shows an improved and more efficient architecture. The caliber boasts a nice balance between the micro-rotor at 12 o’clock and the tourbillon at 6. It also features three transparent sapphire bridges exclusive to this new Big Bang Integral. As determined during the conceptual phase, the components seem to be suspended in space. The light penetrates the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire from every direction and is diffused, refracted, and reflected with every hand’s slight movement.
Once again, Hublot has shown us that they mean business when developing and manipulating every material type. We already knew that they were pretty competent at working with sapphire. I particularly bowed my head when I saw the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire a few weeks ago during the LVMH Watch Week. I truly enjoyed that watch and tipped my hat to its artistic mix of design and engineering. It didn’t occur to me that the next logical step was seeing the Big Bang Integral in some transparent attire. Well, Hublot did think about it and went above and beyond with the development of a new, translucid movement with a tourbillon and crystalline architecture.
Movement: Mechanical, self-winding; cal. HUB6035; hours and minutes; seconds on the 1-minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock; 22K white gold micro-rotor; 21,600 bph, 72-hour power reserve
Case: Polished sapphire, 43 mm; sapphire dial and bridges; sapphire case back fixed with six titanium screws; 30-meter water resistance
Bracelet: Polished sapphire with titanium deployment buckle clasp
Price: USD 422,000; Limited edition of 30 watches