You can’t talk about the Hublot Big Bang without talking about Jean-Claude Biver. Biver kickstarted the development of Hublot into an internationally renowned brand in 2004, and within one year had released the Big Bang. Sales of Hublot watches tripled in 12 months, and the modern incarnation of the luxury watch-maker was born.
An emblem of the Hublot brand
If ever there was an emblematic timepiece, it’s the Big Bang. You don’t think of Hublot without visualising the distinctive Big Bang shape: a perfect circular dial mounted on an elongated hexagon, like some kind of steampunk submarine instrument. It’s a style statement that helped Hublot win three major awards for the watch in the latter half of 2005.
The watch that started everything
I can’t think of a watch more aptly named. The Big Bang was an event of enormous energy, which created a universe from a tiny ball of matter. Hublot’s namesake timepiece did the same thing for a brand that was close to failure, prior to Biver’s commandership.
So what was so great about the Big Bang? Well, for a start no-one had ever seen a luxury sports watch like it before. Biver created a whole new company motto for his revised Hublot - “the art of fusion” - and in the Big Bang, he showed the world exactly what he meant.
While other luxury sports watches were content to present themselves as beefed-up variations on the classic high-end timepiece theme, the Big Bang became something entirely different. It blended a huge variety of high tech materials, including rubber, carbon fiber and in-house alloys, to create a timepiece that actually looked sporty. It was tough, it had a rubber strap, and with its military-style case it looked like it could be used to time an incursion into enemy territory.
In other words, the Big Bang had character.
A Swiss watch at heart
It also had, and has, plenty of internal wizardry. The latest UNICO movement, developed and made in-house at the Hublot manufactory, is both delicate and robust. With 330 separate parts, each one assembled by hand, and the ability to incorporate extra complications as required, it’s as personable as the Big Bang itself.
A big personality
Modern incarnations of Hublot’s Big Bang refuse to sit on the laurels of their predecessors. The classic shape is still there (unless you opt for a Spirit of Big Bang chronograph), and the inimitable personality is there. But the nature of that personality is constant reinvention. Because of this, luxury watch collectors are likely to own several Big Bang models. They’re like old skool Swatches, but for serious grownups.
Well, slightly serious. It’s hard to be completely straight-faced when you’ve just paid 22 grand for a bright pink Pop Art themed watch, which is what a 41mm Pop Art Yellow Gold Rose Big Bang will set you back. And that’s the point. The Big Bang has become an emblem of uniqueness, which in the luxury watch world is an increasingly prized commodity.
The forerunner of every modern Hublot
Hublot has based its entire raison d’etre on the values espoused by the Big Bang. Once Biver set the company free to experiment with materials and design, anything was possible. There would be no Hublot MP without the DNA of the Big Bang. The King Power is the Big Bang on steroids. And the Spirit of Big Bang, mentioned above, is an almost unique event in watchmaking history - a company paying homage to its own flagship model with a whole other line, just 10 years after the original debuted on the market.
It’s worth mentioning that the Big Bang was considered a massive watch, on its release. Now, its 44mm width is the smallest you can get from Hublot (if you’re a man buying men’s watches). A Classic Fusion is 45mm, and the King Power Special One (designed for Jose Mourinho) weighs in at a terrifying 48mm. Biver wasn’t kidding when he said the brand’s main strength was “a flair for thinking outside the box.” Go bigger than a King Power, and you won’t find a box large enough to fit your Hublot watch in at all…
There have been several unique timepieces that have started a watchmaking brand’s success story. The Rolex Oyster. The RM001. The Omega Seamaster. But none of them have the style and personality of the Big Bang. Right from the first model, with its now-iconic rubber strap and chunky face, watch collectors knew they were looking at something special. They still are.