5 Standouts From Hublot’s 2021 Digital LVMH Watch Week: And, Yes, We Have Rainbows
by Martin Green
While LVMH Watch Week 2021 did not take place in physical form, it wasn’t any less spectacular. Hublot is one of the brands whose new watches I always look most forward to: they never disappoint and always dazzle.
It might come as a surprise to some that, as resident gentleman of Quill & Pad, I am so fond of Hublot; its style is far removed from the dress watches I am usually like. My appreciation for Hublot is more as an admirer and industry insider rather than as an owner and collector.
I developed a fondness for Hublot back when Carlo Crocco was still in charge and the brand had a niche of its own in the market. Under industry legend Jean-Claude Biver as of 2004 and then Ricardo Guadalupe, who has been CEO since 2012, Hublot became a different animal altogether; it felt to me like Hublot had found its kryptonite and become a superhero.
In essence, kryptonite can be dangerous because what makes you strong can also make you weak. So far, Hublot has cleverly avoided that.
Hublot has a strong presence, is quite extroverted in its marketing, and the same can be said of many of its watches. If there is one brand that walks the walk and talks the talk, it is Hublot.
While its “Art of Fusion” could very easily have been an empty marketing term, Hublot invested heavily in R&D. As a result, we have things like Magic Gold, an 18-karat gold alloy mixed with ceramic to make it very scratch resistant. Hublot also offers both ceramic and a sapphire crystal alloy in colors nobody thought possible.
Another skill Hublot has also mastered is that of partnership. Yes, the brand has many, but they are fostered. Nearly all brands, artists, and celebrities Hublot has teamed up with are long-term relationships. Perhaps also because Hublot goes the extra mile to make the watches coming out of these collaborations special.
While these timepieces are instantly recognizable as an Hublot, the collaborating party’s “DNA” is also clearly visible, creating synergy. But the best part is that Hublot makes these very challenging partnerships look easy. Whether it is with Italia Independent, Richard Orlinski, Berluti, or even a tattoo artist like Sang Bleu, Hublot pulls it off in a refined way while pushing the envelope on both design and technical execution.
So which five watches did I find most interesting from the slew of new pieces arriving in January? Read on to find out.
Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Rainbow: 14-day power reserve!
While it is great to see new Spirit of Big Bang Rainbows in more affordable versions – even if only slightly – bigger and bolder is also great.
That is the case for the MP-11 Rainbow. I always loved this watch with its 14-day power reserve thanks to seven series-coupled mainspring barrels. To accommodate them, both the case and the sapphire crystal have a “bubble,” which I simply find enticing for reasons I cannot quite explain.
What sets the MP-11 Rainbow apart is that Hublot combines a bezel set with a rainbow of colored gemstones with a case made of 3D carbon fiber. I did not expect this to work as the contrast could have been too much, but the opposite is the result.
The bezel gets all the room to shine, while, with its signature sober look, the texture of the 3D carbon tones down the overall appearance ever so slightly.
Quick Facts Hublot Big Bang MP-11 14-Days Power Reserve Rainbow
Case: 45 mm, 3D carbon fiber with 48 colored gemstones on the bezel
Movement: manual wind Caliber HUB9011 with 7 series-coupled barrels, power reserve 14 days, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve display roll
Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic: spot the tourbillon
Hublot is known to release an insane number of new watches every year. As the COVID-19 pandemic meant that last year Hublot had to close its manufacture for several months, I did expect fewer introductions at this digital edition of LVMH Watch Week.
Hublot’s employees must have worked double time after reopening because based on these new releases, the impact of the manufacture closure seems minimal.
Two models took the lead at the digital LVMH Watch Week: the Big Bang Integral, to which Hublot added three new ceramic models, and the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire. And both deserve the attention.
When the Big Bang Integral was introduced in 2020, I was quite taken by it. The integrated bracelet makes a big difference. To me, it instantly became the Big Bang to buy. Even as the resident gentleman, I find it a very stylish sports chronograph.
The titanium was my preferred version until this year’s edition of the LVMH Watch Week: the grey ceramic version has now taken its place as my top of the heap. For Hublot these are important watches as they generate sales volume.
“Volume” is not a word we can use to describe the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire, although the fact that Hublot has announced 50 pieces is quite astonishing.
The brand has mastered the art of making colored sapphire crystal watches to such an extent that most other brands seem to have tossed their towels into the ring. While $169,000 is a lot of money, it is almost cheap compared to what the sapphire crystal-encased watches of other brands (used to) cost. For this sum, you get a vibrant orange color in addition to Hublot’s new automatic tourbillon movement.
As the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire is quite spectacular, many may have overlooked the two other editions Hublot also debuted: one is available in a carbon fiber case while another comes in a black (“Black Magic”) ceramic case. I am especially a fan of the latter as it is slightly toned down, leaving center stage to the movement.
The movement’s technical creds are amplified by a transparent sapphire crystal main plate and bridges, providing extra cachet for the tourbillon. But I am also a fan of how Hublot integrated a micro rotor just above the mainspring barrel. It makes for a very enticing movement.
Quick Facts Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic
Case: 45 x 15.3 mm, orange sapphire crystal, carbon fiber and Texalium®, or black ceramic
Movement: skeletonized automatic Caliber HUB6035 with one-minute tourbillon and micro rotor, power reserve 72 hours, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 50 pieces (orange sapphire crystal); 100 pieces (carbon fiber and black ceramic)
Price: $169,000 (orange sapphire crystal); $94,700 (carbon fiber and black ceramic)
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon Carbon White: marvelous marble
Another watch that did not get the attention it deserved, at least in my opinion, is the Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-day Power Reserve Carbon White. I have always been a big fan of this collection because the tonneau-shaped case adds a generous dash of elegance.
The watch has a carbon fiber case – with white glass microfibers in it. While the glass microfibers do play a part in improving the carbon fiber’s tensile strength, they also add visual appeal. Instead of the usually technical look of carbon fiber, here it looks as though the case has been chiseled from a block of marble..
The asymmetrical movement is also captivating. I like how a partial ring indicating the minutes occupies the caliber’s right side, flanked by a smaller power reserve indicator.
Hublot’s approach to skeletonization is rather technical with this watch. Instead of bridges and a main plate, the gear train and other parts are held together by a sort of frame underscoring the watch’s technical character.
The Big Bang Tourbillon 5-day Power Reserve Carbon White has a very generous power reserve of five days, ensuring that you don’t have to wind it too often.
Quick Facts Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon Carbon White
Case: 42 x 13.25 mm, carbon fiber with white glass microfibers
Movement: skeletonized manual wind Caliber HUB6020 with one-minute tourbillon, power reserve 115 hours (5 days), 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator
Limitation: 100 pieces
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow: more rainbows, please
In this pandemic era, everybody could use a rainbow in their lives.
Hublot took this quite literally and already in 2020 treated us to two Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow models, over which our editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr and I were gushing.
This year Hublot offers pretty much the same concept, but now the Big Bang Rainbow comes in a titanium case.
The Big Bang Rainbows have been very popular in their own niche of the market. The previously released King Gold versions have the advantage that the precious metal’s warm hue creates a richer overall look.
The new versions in titanium are a tad colder, but not in a bothersome way. An advantage of the chronograph model is that the minute track is more sober, which I think makes the overall design look even more powerful. It is a small detail, but these small details make a difference.
Quick Facts Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Rainbow 42 mm
Case: 42 x 14.1 mm, titanium, set with 166 colored gemstones on the case and 54 on the bezel
Dial: sapphire crystal with colored hour markers
Movement: automatic Caliber HUB4700 (Zenith El Primero base), power reserve 50 hours, 5 Hz/36,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Quick Facts Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow 39 mm
Case: 39 x 12.6 mm, titanium, set with 164 colored gemstones on the case and 62 on the bezel
Dial: set with 431 colored gemstones
Movement: automatic Caliber HUB1710 (Zenith Elite base), power reserve 50 hours, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
I wouldn’t be surprised if by now some readers were ready to strip me of my title as Quill & Pad’s resident gentleman, but there is a thin line between being a gentleman and a dandy.
With my passion for Hublot, I am indulging the dandy side of my personality because even an introverted style sometimes needs a more extroverted accessory to truly shine.