A Closer Look at the Hublot Bigger Bang

When Jean-Claude Biver returned from his brief retirement to become CEO of Hublot in 2004, he designed the chronograph Big Bang and presented it to the marketplace. The watch won design competitions and prizes right from the start.  It garnered so much excitement that it set into motion Hublot’s distinctive concept of combining an amazing array of unique materials with striking colors in artfully designed oversized timepieces. Biver described his new concept as the “Art of Fusion”. He included rubber, stainless steel, Kevlar, tungsten, gold, ceramic, magnesium, and carbon in never-seen-before designs. For these reasons, every Big Bang timepiece model is a Limited Edition.

History

Journalist Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon wrote about the emergence Hublot’s Big Bang and its massive influence on watch designs to follow, she succinctly described the design attributes and marketing genius which positioned not only the watch collection, but Hublot, into the forefront of horological history. Pimodan-Bugnon was emphatic about the Big Bang concept of fusing materials which had never been combined in watch design in such a dynamic way. The extraordinary fusion designs debuted in 2005 brought the Hublot brand new life. Undeniably classic Hublot, the signature porthole-shaped bezel remained, but hybrid materials in combination with a superior new La Joux-Perret developed chronograph movement. Its tungsten carbide rotor was treated with black PVD. The new watch won the prize for Best Design at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve and the Big Bang fusion concept propelled Hublot into the forefront of fine timepiece design.

One year later, the Hublot All Black made its debut, ushering in the first decade of All Black timepieces. This decade included the first-ever Bigger Bang All Black. According to Alexander Linz, writing for Watch-Insider in 2016, Hublot’s new collection was first “highly criticized” by the watch industry’s “prominent members”, only to be “copied shamelessly” thereafter.  Hublot’s Limited Edition of 250 All Black timepieces sold out in record times… within days.

Everything about the All Black is designed with black components: the 44.5mm case is made with polished and brushed black ceramic, the bezel includes 6 of the signature Hublot titanium screws shaped like the letter “H” are sunken into its matt black ceramic structure, the dial includes numerals and indices of black nickel applique, the black chronograph hand features black nickel facets, the Hublot logo and hour circle in glossy black, the lug disc and side inserts made of black composite resin, and the back is titanium with sapphire crystal. The crown has a natural black rubber insert, and the strap’s made of natural black rubber with the Hublot logo engraved into it. Even the screws are black PVD. Considering the popularity of the Hublot All Black, it makes perfect sense that the Hublot Bigger Bang All Black debuted in 2007.

It’s important to understand that Hublot’s success with the Big Bang concept led to many variations. The Big Bang concept has been realized in a series of notable timepieces. It probably was fortuitous that the All Black watches caused such a stir when first debuted because their striking features and impeccable details opened the door for many, many, commercially successful Big Bang and Bigger Bang models to follow.

The Bigger Bang is one of the watches in the Big Bang series. Some features which distinguish Bigger Bang models are the chronograph movement with tourbillon, the skeletonized dial, and the use of tantalum material. Tantalum is a precious heavy metal and a chemical element belonging to the vanadium group. Anders Gustav Ekeberg discovered tantalum in 1802 in Sweden. It is named for Tantalus, the son of Zeus, in Greek mythology. It is even more rare than gold and shines with an intense silver-blue cast.  In watchmaking, it is considered very difficult to work with due to its hardness and very high melting point. Tools used for milling tantalum are only rarely used more than one time. Hublot’s use of the rare material is notable.

Hublot’s Bigger Bang timepieces are the first to utilize a tourbillon column-wheel chronograph. It couples directly to a tourbillon flying cage. This column-wheel chronograph is easily seen at the 12 o’clock position on the watch face. Each component’s maneuvers are viewed easily when the push-piece is pressed. The Hublot Caliber HUB6300 is manually wound, includes 262 components, and provides a 120-hour power reserve. In addition to the 44mm black ceramic platinum cases, the Bigger Bang collection includes cases in 18kt rose gold, tantalum, and one which is decorated with baguette and round diamonds. The individual Bigger Bang models feature variations of exotic precious metals and specialized movements; all flowing from Biver’s original Art of Fusion concept.

Martin-Green, writing for Haute Time, noted that Hublot’s founder Carlo Crocco had a distinctive idea of how Hublot timepieces should be designed. Crocco was firm about the idea of the now-iconic, porthole shape for the case and he designed the strap to be a solid black strip. In those days, precious metal watches generally used straps of fine metals or leathers. But Crocco decided to use a rubber. Ultimately, it took two years to develop the strap he envisioned and a leading expert in vulcanization was needed to produce the final product. Combining gold with natural rubber was the seed for the Art of Fusion concept because the complex process of fusing the rubber strap together with the metal components was the first realization of the concept. When Biver became a part of Hublot, he marketed the Art of Fusion fully, supported by Ricardo Guadalupe, who eventually became the CEO of Hublot. Together, they explored the use of additional innovative materials and devoted attention to high-quality manufacture. In Green’s interview with CEO Guadalupe, he asked about Hublot’s vision for the Big Bang series of timepieces. Guadalupe answered that Hublot would be “constantly working on new projects to extend the Big Bang range”.

With this long-range vision, it’s not surprising that Hublot would continue to create unique Big Bang timepieces. The Bigger Bang models have included Limited Edition pieces which captivate collectors. One visually tantalizing piece is the Bigger Bang Diamond Tourbillon Limited Edition. Only 18 timepieces from this edition were created. In 2016, each was available at a price beginning at $290,000. According to Sammy Said of The Richest, the Bigger Bang Diamond Tourbillon is one of the most “rare and exclusive”, ranking it in the 10 most expensive Hublot watches. The case is paved with 212 diamonds and 48 baguette diamonds are set in the bezel.

Final Thoughts

Time and Tide Watches’ Felix Scholz interviewed Hublot’s Product and Purchasing Director, Raphael Nussbaumer, when Hublot was celebrating 10 years of the Big Bang. Scholz asked Nussbaumer about the significance of the series. The Big Bang watches developed since 2013 with open dials include completely new integrated double horizontal clutch chronographs which were developed from scratch by a small team of people. The new Unico movement took 2 years to develop, but Hublot did it in-house and “delivered more than 8000 Unico powered Big Bangs in 2014”. Nussbaumer confirmed that the Big Bang remains “the core” of Hublot and the company’s “most important product line” as far as can be seen for the future. For Hublot, Big Bang is a continuum of timepiece models. The Bigger Bang timepieces are certain to remain a significant part of the series. From a brand that has grown to its own iconic status by offering more, the Bigger Bang series offers… well … even more.


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