Hublot Big Bang MECA-10: A Shift In Consciousness
If alien technology were ever assimilated into our consciousness and understanding, technological and scientific changes would be immeasurable. Objects around us would suddenly be filled with amazing mechanical, electrical, or quantum technology, and we would be astounded by the possibilities.
Until that day comes (if it hasn’t secretly happened already), there are still many things around that astound us, and these usually signal a shift. That shift could be the sudden implementation of autonomous vehicles or perhaps the creation of an incredible new mechanical marvel from an unlikely source.
Autonomous vehicles are assuredly on their way, but today we focus on unlikely mechanics . . . by Hublot with the Big Bang MECA-10, a surprising and enjoyable shift in direction for the brand.
Mechanics first, style second
It is well known that Hublot has positioned itself as a rock star watch brand focusing on celebrity partnerships, numerous limited editions, and high-tech materials: this is the brand’s bread and butter. For a majority of its watches, mechanics seem to only be a supporting character.
However, Hublot has also created some amazing watches including minute repeaters, tourbillons, the LaFerrari model, and the highly complex Antikythera, reminding us that the brand isn’t afraid to try some very difficult stuff.
But those watches fall into narrow spaces between the varieties of stylized watches Hublot usually makes. So when something new and unique makes its debut, I’m pleasantly surprised. And this happened again at Baselworld 2016 with the launch of the Big Bang MECA-10, a watch highlighting its mechanics.
The MECA-10 is touted as a transitional object, which holds true in many respects. It marks a possible transition for Hublot into making horologically inspired timepieces instead of stylized accessories that tell time. It also allows current Hublot lovers to slide into watch-nerd territory and current watch nerds to slide over into a sphere of Hublot fandom thanks to the concept of mechanics coming first.
Many watch lovers have expressed interest and fascination in the MECA-10 as it speaks of new goals and a new energy behind the brand.
The movement was conceived and developed in-house, and with the increased capacity and expanded capabilities due to adding a new facility, Hublot and the MECA-10 are building a new direction focused on mechanics and creative development. And the MECA-10 is a darn good starting point for that endeavor.
The focal point of the MECA-10 was narrowed down to power for exposed mechanics. Some of the inspiration seems to have come from construction sets like Meccano, and the movement proudly displays the industrial-esque nature of the watch. It still maintains a distinctive Hublot feel, but the layout of the components and the unique complexity of the power reserve display(s) add something rarely seen in Big Bang models.
It is perhaps easiest to start here with the rear of the movement as it provides clues as to what we should be paying attention to, beginning with two large spring barrels running in parallel: the “10” in the name MECA-10 refers to the ten-day power reserve. The barrels can be seen from the rear of the movement, highlighted as the primary feature.
The mainsprings, along with the rest of the gear train, are supported by three stout bridges shaped like girders, giving it a fairly symmetrical shape from the rear. Since the entire movement is skeletonized, these girders essentially make up the main plate of the movement. Most of the fun is meant to be had dial-side, but you can still see the balance from the rear where there is a shock jewel and a window to the fine adjustment screw for the timing.
But you definitely understand that this watch is about power and mechanics thanks to the layout highlighting the mainsprings. Once you flip the watch over and really dig into it, you almost start to forget that this is the same brand that created a limited edition Big Bang in a denim look. The dial side of the movement is awesome, and since mechanics are the emphasis here, there is no dial needed.
Everything is on display to reassure you that the Hublot MECA-10 means business.
Since interesting mechanical shows of skill and creativity are what really excite me from any brand, I was drawn to the MECA-10 immediately. The dial departs from typical Hublot design, and the shift in corporate consciousness is clearly evident.
What’s even more interesting is that with all the complex mechanics on display, there actually isn’t a lot of information to see. It is really an exercise in “what could we do?” instead of “what is the best way to accomplish this?”
Here’s what I mean: the MECA-10 devotes two-thirds of its dial space to power reserve mechanics; the mechanism is spread across the entire dial and different parts of the mechanism are used to provide slightly different information. The power reserve gear train gets its input first from the superposed, offset double rack at the top of the movement.
While the power transfers to the gear train from the upper mainspring on the rear of the movement, it also transfers to the front of the movement and the power reserve gear train via the ten-tooth pinion in the center of the double rack. The rack moves from left to right as the mainsprings unwind, providing a general sense of the amount of energy stored.
Next, the rack turns an intermediate wheel that is rather unique in the movement. Mounted around the hour and minute hand arbor, it has a slot cut out allowing it to rotate through its fixed range of motion without interfering with the operation of the time indication. Underneath the wheel is an indicator that, when the power reserve is in the last two days of its range, shows red through another slot on the other side of the wheel.
This wheel also is not fully toothed, only having two sections with gear teeth cut considering it is impossible for the wheel to rotate 360 degrees. The intermediate wheel also appears to have a small spiral spring underneath helping it remain firmly pressed against the rack teeth and guaranteeing that it returns to its proper position as the mainsprings unwind.
Moving on with the power reserve gear train we come to the power reserve indicator itself. This is driven via the intermediate wheel and one section of teeth. This wheel actually is capable of rotating 360 degrees; its numerals 0 through 10 correspond to the available ten days of power reserve.
The numerals resemble stamped out stencils and match the Meccano aesthetic the designers were going for. A red trapezoid frames the current day of power reserve, while the pinion mated to the intermediate wheel has the words “Power Reserve” pad-printed around its circumference.
Actual time-telling bits
After this massive display of power reserve, one could easily forget that the purpose of a watch is to tell time, but the MECA-10 makes sure that isn’t lost. Ten hour markers surround the dial, with only those two at 8 and 9 o’clock missing due to the balance and small seconds.
Large and thick industrially styled baton hands point to the hours and minutes, and a small ring and a short, thick baton hand at 9 o’clock counts the passing seconds.
The balance is partially covered by the running seconds, but it is still featured prominently at 8 o’clock. Sadly, the most interesting part of the balance assembly – the curved beam-like fine-regulation arm – is mostly hidden.
It even features the same stamped stencil-like text, this time much smaller and spelling out “Hublot.” The fine piercing of that component actually is an impressive choice when it easily could have been engraved or pad-printed.
Many of the supporting bridges and arms are blacked out on the movement in an attempt to emphasize the mechanics over the design. This is somewhat of a welcome change for Hublot, definitely making the movement mechanics pop.
I also think that housing this movement in the standard Big Bang case is the smartest idea because, instead of polarizing the brand’s already polarized fan base, it can usher in a new direction with a familiar face.
A completely new case design and aesthetic might have detracted from the awesome movement and the clear direction change Hublot was going for, maybe even having resulted in it shooting itself in the foot. This provides the best chance for Hublot to gradually become seen as a genuine watchmaker instead of a rock star stylist. I for one am rather excited about the possibilities now coming from the brand.
Until then, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.9 An Hublot Big Bang is always a watch that draws attention, but this is one that draws attention from horology nerds too!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 91.4 » 896.327 m/s2 This watch is definitely worth a strong lust appeal given the number of late nights I’ve looked at it longingly.
- M.G.R. * 66.8 A new movement, conceived and developed in-house, that focuses on mechanics first and style second. That’s my jam!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild It has a power reserve, and a second almost-power reserve. This is more than enough to need standard-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for new horological direction related swelling.
- Ouch Outline * 9.5 Slipping with a screwdriver and accidentally trying to tighten the back of your hand! Sometimes accidents happen, and sometimes you discover that a benign tool can actually be painful. Even though I screwed up (see what I did there), I would probably do it again if it meant getting this bad boy on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * A Hublot Big Bang? For movement lovers? It’s so surprising that it’s basically just ready and waiting to jet off to Vegas for a weekend ceremony! #Eloping!
- Awesome Total * 563 Add the number of hours in the power reserve (about 240) to the number of components in the movement (223), and then add the depth rating in meters (100) to discover a surprising and most welcome awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.hublot.com/big-bang-meca-10.
Case: 45 mm, titanium or polished black ceramic
Movement: manually winding Caliber HUB1201
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve, power reserve warning indicator
Price: €19,600 in titanium, €21,700 in black ceramic