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Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Watches can at times be difficult to explain, but that is a challenge we enjoy taking on daily. Still, we were quite gobsmacked when, at BaselWorld 2016, we first tried to wrap our minds around the idea of Hublot engineers painstakingly making a watch and its case perfectly transparent… and then making said watch all… black again? To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the all-black watch, we saw the release of the competitively priced Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black, a darkly transparent watch equipped with the latest technological breakthroughs of the brand.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

To be clear, it all started back in 2006, when Hublot launched the Big Bang “All Black,” the official progenitor of all-black watches in which the case, dial, hands, and indices were very black and legibility was, ahem, very much tossed out the window. Ten years later, and much to our amazement and amusement, Hublot is still finding ways to push the limits of what could be expected from the otherwise famously tame and relaxed Swiss watch industry.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

During the presentation of the watch at the thronging Hublot booth at Baselworld 2016, Jean-Claude Biver told us about his idea of invisible visibility and how it revolutionized the concept of time-telling. “People don’t buy a watch to read the time,” pronounced Biver. “When I told my head watchmaker at Hublot that I wanted a black watch that won’t let you read the time” he added with a loud stagey laugh, “the 70-year-old watchmaker almost fainted, arguing that he had been ‘fighting all his life for accuracy and legibility.’”

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Since 2006, Hublot has taken quantum leaps, and this Big Bang Unico model fuses the two main pilasters of the brand by combining the muscular physiognomy of the Big Bang with Hublot’s manufacture Unico caliber – with sapphire cases. Sapphire is a material that has seduced watch brands with a certain avant-garde profile, with Cecil Purnell (yes, them) being the first to launch a watch all wrapped in sapphire, with a limited run of 5 pieces of their Mirage model. Richard Mille followed up quite a few years later and made a much bigger splash with their $1.65 million RM 056 sapphire-cased watch.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot stands out as innovative and aesthetically different, producing 500 sapphire cases. That adds a dash of “industrial prestige” since it is extremely difficult to manufacture and can only be cut by diamond. According to Biver, Hublot has “industrialized sapphire” and invested vast quantities of money to create the specialized tools behind the production of the 500 Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black watches.

It’s like this: imagine BMW developed the latest M3. It’s awesome, full of novel technologies, and it’s spectacular as ever. Then, a year later, BMW fits square wheels to it. It still has all the fantastic technologies inside and it costs the same, but it decidedly doesn’t function as originally intended.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot already had two watches housed in sapphire cases in its portfolio. We first saw the MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire and the Big Bang Unico Sapphire watches earlier this year. Conceived as an anniversary watch, the Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black is identical in construction to the clear Unico Sapphire, but in this instance, its 45mm case is built form smokey-black-coloured sapphire blocks. Inside the case, the original silver movement has changed to black, and transparent details on the dial have also been darkened.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

To increase the sensation of transparency, and in spite of the black PVD covering, Hublot has skeletonized the HUB 1242 Unico caliber, an automatic chronograph movement that beats at 4Hz and has a 72-hour power reserve. The caliber HUB 1242 looks great inside this Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black watch and substitutes the refined finishes of high-end watchmaking for a more industrial and solid presence that certainly packs a punch. Conceived to surpass the Valjoux 7750, Hublot’s in-house chronograph comes with a flyback function and a column wheel, visible from the dial of the watch.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Like other models with sapphire cases, the watch comes on a transparent rubber strap. In keeping with the dark spirit of the watch, the rubber is also a smokey black to match the case. I personally am not a big fan, as it looks a bit murky to me rather than dark and brooding. Luckily the straps come with the patented exchange system and are a cinch to change.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The black soul of this watch is echoed on the dark dial of the Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black. The hour and minute hands and the chronograph hand are all crafted in smoky black sapphire and get totally lost in the dark sea of components unless hit by direct light. Reading the time on this watch takes time. The date? Let’s put it this way: it takes faith, and you just have to believe that it is out there somewhere. What’s more, the date disc is skeletonized producing a contrary effect to that desired. Instead of letting the light through and emphasizing the sensation of depth, the only thing it creates is a sensation of jumbled data and blurry hour indices.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Reading the two subdials will also make you frown with concentration. The small seconds at 9 and the 60-minute counter at 3 o’clock get lost in the dark depths. This is not exactly the kind of chronograph you would want to use as a countdown timer for the 14 seconds of impulse necessary to get the lunar module back to Earth. Telling the time isn’t easy, which might bug some people, but it has nothing to do with Hublot’s overall mission with this anniversary model. As Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO, stated: “In the original All Black concept, the watch is visible but the time display is invisible.” Check.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This watch comes full circle with Hublot’s love of all things black and all things sapphire. It’s nearly impossible to read and defies the benefits of its material choice – and will still likely have its fans and buyers in spite of those facts. This dark anniversary watch is presented in a limited edition of 500 pieces with a price of $57,900hublot.com

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  • IanE

    Finally a watch that makes the Beat Haldimann H9 Reduction look legible! I love it when such expensive watches let me be pleased that I can’t afford them.

    • Yes, a distinct reason to feel good about not being “stupid rich”.

  • Well…it will be interesting to see if they can find 500 people out there who want “Invisible Visibility” (meaning a watch even JCB acknowledges you can’t read) coupled with a plastic looking case for almost $58K. I’m sure this watch makes a statement in some circles, but I have no idea what that statement would be. Thanks for the review mi amigo.

    Oh yeah, I do have wrist shots from BaselWorld 2016 of this watch. And (no, I’m not making this up) the shots came out too dark. But if pressed, I could post them.

    • DR

      To me, the statement would be:

      “I used to have $58k. Instead of saving the money for a rainy day, or buying a nice car for myself, or donating the money to a charity which could help those in need, I bought this watch. I think that tells you everything you need to know about me.”

      • 200 Fathoms

        Well, doesn’t this apply to all expensive watches?

        • DR

          Well, yes and no.

          You could get through life with an F-91W and put the money to other uses.

          But I think we can agree that well-made and/or complicated watches, possibly in precious metals, can be quite beautiful works of functional art.

          According to Biver, this Hublot deliberately sets out not to fulfil its primary mechanical purpose. Perhaps he thinks that there’s something very clever and avant garde about that.

          I think it’s a bit like putting triangular wooden wheels on a Porsche. Different? Yes. In a good way? No. And you’d look a bit of a tosser sitting in one.

  • Giacomo T.

    “Damn, them hands look rougher than 50 Cents childhood.”

    That is also how most of the buyers of this timepiece (god forbid) will actually talk. 🙂

  • word-merchant
    • When Casio’s resin has the hardness of sapphire Richard Mille and Hublot will be in trouble. Until then, they can keep making plastic looking cases for mega bucks that are at least hard to scratch.

  • I like it. I know I shouldn’t but I like it.

    • Therapy perhaps. “Doc, I see invisible visible things…”

    • Berndt Norten

      Btw is the book out?

      • Oh you will hear about it when the book is out!

        • DanW94

          Took a look on Amazon and checked out the preview content on the “look inside” option. Looks amazing. Bravo Ryan…..

          • Cheers sir! It really does look very good and it is not quite like anything out there so I hope it will be well received. Buy it or not, you will be tired of hearing about it in a few weeks!

  • Marius

    The dial of this watch — especially if you look at the hands and hour markers — is absolute low-grade, low-rent quality. I don`t think I have ever seen a watch with the hour markers and hands painted in a more “dubious” manner. Also, what is the purpose of putting a Unico movement in a sapphire case? The Unico is a rather poorly-finished caliber, so there`s not really much to see. Sure, I can understand seeing a Greubel&Forsey, or a Lange movement, but not a Unico. You use a transparent engine cover for a Lamborghini or Ferrari, not for a Trabant, Lada Niva, or Yugo.

    Nevertheless, I have to say that this article made me laugh. So, the Biver told his head watchmaker: “When I told my head watchmaker at Hublot that I wanted a black watch that won’t let you read the time” he added with a loud stagey laugh, “the 70-year-old watchmaker almost fainted, arguing that he had been ‘fighting all his life for accuracy and legibility.’” Wow, Hublot has a head watchmaker? What does he do? Inspect the base ETA/Selitta calibers that Hublot uses? Maybe he`s responsible for the Unico calibers; yet, as quite a few dealers told me, the Unicos are notoriously unreliable, so it appears that he lost his “fight for accuracy.”

    • The story I head (from a dealer) was that when the Unico movements first appeared in Hublot watches fully half of them were DOA (dead on arrival) at the dealerships. Presumably things are better now.

      • Ditto. And not one of the three early movements I’ve seen worked properly.

        • Boogur T. Wang

          I’m thinking it took quite a long time before this was noticed by the wearer of the “watch.”

          • Could be. Maybe some of those folks don’t really care what time it is (or if Hublot, can’t tell). Could also be they noticed a mechanical problem in the first five minutes after they received it. But having bought it from an aftermarket dealer on eBay with a no return policy, they just sold it back into the aftermarket to get rid of it, at whatever loss they took.

            I’ve been buying watches on the NET since it began. At this point, I expect 30% of the “pre-owned” watches I buy to be nothing more than someone else’s problem………

    • JimBob

      I appreciate any comment that can work in a Yugo or Lada reference. As for the Trabant, if you had one with a 2-stroke engine, you might want a transparent cover to show the thing off.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Some folks have more money than sense, This is ridiculous.

    • IanE

      Well, it keeps the economy turning (and gives us a laugh!).

      • Berndt Norten

        It’s a form of wealth redistribution: from rich buyers to rich Hublot execs but mostly to middle income Hublot workers. That’s how I make sense of it and allow myself not to be driven crazy by it?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        That is does Ian, that it does.

  • ??????

    What a … piece of nonsense. Totally illegible, poorly finished wrist abomination. Caliber looks okay, but for $58k?? It looks worse than one in $2k Christopher Ward (some articles ago). Can anybody explain me – how does Hublod exist? Who are their buyers, their auditorium?

    • Marius

      Drive a European auto? Have a nice pen, preferably a fountain? Do you appreciate and occasionally take a two-martini lunch? Play as hard as you work? Smoke a fine cigar on occasion? Have a sense of adventure and bold style? Are you rakish, sir? Then you’ll get it: The pen guy, the car guy, the Hublot guy, and the Berluti guy are all the same guy.

      • Berndt Norten

        Hey don’t knock fountain pens. ?Gimme a 1.5 mm stub nib and some Pilot Iroshizuki ‘kon peki ‘ ink and I’m in heaven. Admittedly with the whole Marc Newsom Montblanc thing the posers are coming aboard but many of us simply revel in the art of writing. Make the shopping list look like a constitutional preamble: it brings a tiny speck of art to one’s day

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Hey, don’t knock the car guys. I would hate to be associated with anyone who buys this.

      • I drive a Porsche. Exception to your rule perhaps?

        • Raymond Wilkie

          You’r excused :- )

      • Bill W

        Well done. May that paragraph never be forgotten.

      • Bill W

        And then I said to the CEO, “You guys must do something with your Berluti brethren.”

        • Marius

          Hublot debuted not only a new watch, but a new kind of watch, the Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti, in two versions: the “All Black” and the “Scritto.” The fashion world received it with great fanfare. To those in the world of fine timepieces, it was seemingly a softer launch, but the watch crowd should have taken more notice — because this, my friends, is the ghost of Christmas future.

          • Bill W

            “In many ways, and much more so than in most such partnerships, this Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti is a collaboration in far more than mere name – and the way things, going forward, just ought to be.”

        • Bill W

          And then I told Steve, I said, “Jobsy, J-Man, you really should start making phones. Now sit back and enjoy a Cohiba while I show you this prototype I came up with.”

      • Bill W

        “Officer, I was attacked by four men: the pen guy, the car guy, the watch guy, AND the Berluti guy.”

        “Those are all the same guy, sir. You were attacked by one man and one man alone: Aaron Sigmond.”

        • Marius

          Hahaha, this has to be the comment of the year!

        • Larry Holmack

          Now dat dere is funny now, I’s a don’t care who ya are!!! ( Said in my best Larry the Cable guy voice!! )

        • Timestandsstill

          Ahhh yes, a man of exquisite taste!

          • Bill W

            I think I cracked it! Aaron Sigmond is Ellis from Die Hard.
            “Business is business. You use a gun. I use a fountain pen.”
            “Sprechen Sie talk?”

          • JimBob

            Bill. Bubbie. I’m your white knight!

          • Bill W

            Hahahaha, nice. And I bet you negotiate million-dollar deals for breakfast.

          • JimBob

            Also a lot of coke for breakfast.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            …snored from the crystal of your Hublot.

  • Ulysses31

    It looks like more of a fashion concept. The watch is, as others have pointed out, impossible to read. It is also overpriced to the extreme. One of my local dealers has recently installed a Hublot display right next to the Frédérique Constant one. Some of the Hublots are the same price as the FC models. Oh, how I laughed.

  • cluedog12

    Correction to the analogy, to make it closer to real life:

    It’s like this: imagine BMW developed the latest M3. It’s awesome, full of novel technologies, and it’s spectacular as ever. Then, a year later, BMW fits run-flat tires to it. It still has all the fantastic technologies inside and it costs the same, but it decidedly doesn’t function as originally intended.

    Run flats are not universally terrible, but it is close.

    • Run flats are evil and M cars of course do NOT have them. I call them “go flats” as they always seemed to pick up a puncture and BMW does not fix them, only replace the overpriced buggers.

      • Larry Holmack

        That’s why us folks in Texas just keep a couple of extra spare’s in the bed of our pickup, just for occasions like that!! LOL

        • Well shucks. I was thinking about run flats for the M4. Then I read this………….. Now I think I should dump the car for a pick-em-up truck.

          • Larry Holmack

            Yep…Ford makes that there King Ranch Eeeedition pick up what is right nice!!! But get da 4 x 4 version so you can jack yer truck up really high and put some 34 inch tires on it!!!

        • Thought ya stopped by the side of the road and caught (bare handed) a rattler and then skinned him (using your teeth) and used the skin as a tire and continued along your merry way.

          • Larry Holmack

            Well Mark…actually, if ya can catch a couple of armadillo’s, skin ’em, and tie their tails together around da rim….you dun got’s some tire’s what’ll run for a couple hundred miles!!!

      • JimBob

        I have been told that from BMW owners I know. I seem to only get nails and screws when tires are very new. About half the repairs seem to leave the tire with a persistent slow leak. Shouldn’t there be a more reliable 21st century technology for this?

  • Hydra

    LMAO at the finishin if this is the final product :D…My Seiko 5 has better finishing…

  • Jon Heinz

    Concept is cool as Hell (Sapphire hands!!!) but not for that much. Even for all the work in making the sapphire parts; not that much. Waaayyy too much. At that price point, there are a lot better investments in the game. Like an Aquanaut and then you have enough left over for a VC Overseas.

  • “People don’t buy a watch to read the time…” Actually, I do.

  • Omegaboy

    Hublot’s next offering is an invisible watch, priced at $150,000.

    • word-merchant

      Tell me about it. I sold my house to buy a couple of these, put them down somewhere and now can’t find either (they’ve wound down, so no giveaway ticking either).

      I feel such a fool but Hublot have been brilliant; they say they’ve sent a replacement out to me, and I didn’t even need to show proof of purchase.

      • Omegaboy

        So sorry! But, you have to hand it to Hublot – not only did they make your watch disappear, but your money, too.

  • Pardon me, but; “at the thronging Hublot booth at Baselworld 2016”? I didn’t see throngs at anyone’s booth at Basel this year. Maybe you were there during a press conference?

    • A couple of years ago people queued up for turns in the 3D simulator booth at the front of Hublot’s BaselWorld Booth, but that was the only time I remember crowding there, let alone “thronging”.

  • BNABOD

    “People don’t buy a watch to read the time” . Not sure what to do w that.

  • Adam Young

    It looks like they succeeded with their design goals as I can’t read it, but it looks really cool. So top marks.

  • ??????

    Consider me an old-fashioned dinosaur, but I still use my watches to read time. Yes, I do.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    ” invisible visibility “…….. That’s what one calls an oxymoron.

    • Bill W

      And the oxy is optional.

      • Boogur T. Wang

        oxycodone maybe

  • Hydra

    Biver should just retire….

  • A great match to the Emperor’s new clothes.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    pure awesome.

  • cg

    didn’t this company win the International Illegible Design Prize? Oh sorry… they sponsor the award. Now I get it.

  • I get what Biver is saying – if you’re buying a Hublot, it’s not because you want to tell time. It’s also not because you want a classically- styled, tasteful watch with meticulous attention to detail and properly aligned screws. It’s because you’re an attention whore with deep pockets. You’re kind of the Michael Bay of horology.

    • Marius

      “I’m as familiar with Hublot as I am with Berluti — though I’ve owned only one, a Classic Fusion, I’ve written a lot about the brand. I’ve been to the manufacture; I’ve seen Magic Gold being made. I did several book events for DRIVE TIME at Hublot boutiques. I know them; I get them. And while Hublot is not a watch for everyone, nor is Berluti a shoe for all. Neither is for the shy, reserved, or conservative.”

      Aaron Sigmond, impartial and objective journalist.

      • Ah, yes, the pen guy. Author of the book that has three five-star Amazon reviews all written by himself.

      • Larry Holmack

        Wait, wait wait…..!!!! You mean I can’t get a pair of Berluti’s off the shelf that will fit my size 15 6E foot???? Damit….I hate it when that happens!!!!

  • Bill W

    No worries, I’ll just wear Apple Watch on my other shaved arm for the time, date, stopwatch, and Pokemon. 🙂

    • Marius

      Obviously, this watch should have been reviewed by Aaron Sigmond, big time Hublot and Berluti lover. Where are you Mr. Sigmond? Please come out of the woodwork! Hublot needs you!

  • Luis

    I think that the first brand to launch an all-sapphire-cased watch was Alain Silberstein, not Cecil Purnell. And AS did it much before than Cecil Purnell, and better in my opinion.

  • Jerry Mathers

    When I first glanced at the name I thought it said “Unicorn” and I perked up a bit because I fancy unicorns. Considering the price, it could be justified if it was lubricated with unicorn tears and rainbow dust.

    • I was thinking something similar regarding Unicorns. Just not “tears.”

  • BrJean

    Are you kidding me?

    • TrevorXM

      They aren’t trying to kid you, they’re trying to fleece idiots.

      • SuperStrapper

        LIKE WHAT TREVOR LIKES OR THOU ART AN IDIOT

        • TrevorXM

          I would agree with this statement.

          • SuperStrapper

            6 out of 5 mouthbreathers agree.

          • Is the extra mouth breather visibly invisible?

  • TrevorXM

    It’s ugly. Its use of technology makes no sense. It’s unreadable. It has a junky movement.
    It costs a bundle. All in all it is perhaps the ultimate in idiocy. It is a Hublot.

    They will sell them all.

  • Bill W

    If I buy this Hublot can I get a free pair of Berlutis and a box of Cohibas? For I’m rakish, sir.

    • Marius

      À propos Berluti. I don’t know if you know this, but a few months ago, Hublot released a new watch in collaboration with Berluti. Here is what our own Aaron Sigmond had to say about this fine timepiece: “It’s amazing! Check out the debossed Berluti patinated Venezia leather dial: It’s fresh, original, and executed with exacting precision.”

  • Bill W

    “I’m The Pen Guy and I love this Hublot!”

    –Aaron Sigmond

  • Bill W

    “I may be on my third Mojito at a work lunch right now, but I’m reading about this Hublot and I’M A HUGE FAN!”

    –A.S., “The Pen Guy”

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    HOW DARE you all make fun of my close, personal soulmate, Aaron Sigmond! I hereby demand that you cease and desist from these personal attacks on a true connoisseur of fine cigars, fine pens, Berluti shoes and Hublots! I want all of these attacks below to stop!

    • Jerry Mathers

      Sir, they are called writing instruments.

  • SuperStrapper

    Love it. It would be amazing to see Hublot add this to the regular lineup and do it in other colours: blue, green, etc. Very cool.

    • I look forward to the infrared model, in keeping with Biver’s new mission statement of “Not only should our customers not be able to tell the time, but let’s make watches that do not appear in the visible spectrum.”

      • SuperStrapper

        We can only hope that one day every watch looks like a submariner or calatrava. What a lovely world it would be then.

    • Kuroji

      Does this count as a mystery dial?

  • Bill W

    So when is the “It’s A Wonderful Life with Sigmond & Grosvenor” podcast dropping? Next Tuesday?

    • Marius

      Indeed, the podcast will be aired next Tuesday. Our very own Aaron Sigmond together with our new editor-in-chief Alexander Chayton Grosvenor will discuss these two topics: “Apple iWatch 2.0: Our Thoughts” and “If You Kiss Hublot`s Ass Long Enough, Will You Get A Free Watch?” This podcast is sponsored by Arizona FineTime: when the time is fine in Arizona!

      • Bill W

        I think I’d rather watch ArchieLuxury and Mimi-T.

  • Timestandsstill

    LOL, I think this article was tossed out by ABTW like chum to frenzied feeding sharks. Pile it on! It’s a slug fest.

    Or perhaps by Hublot themselves. “Any publicity is good publicity?”

  • Bill W

    Telling the time is secondary. And unfortunately this watch’s designer’s syphilis is tertiary. His mind has left him. Prayers.

  • Bill W

    I live my life by WWKBW: What would Kobe Bryant wear? ^

  • Bill W

    So Kobe Bryant would wear this. Bill Nighy would wear a Voutilainen. And a lower-level, ice-transmitting celebrity Scientologist would wear the Alpina.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    And a small voice from the crowd said…“The King has no clothes on…”

    • A deafening inaudible shout (to go along with invisible visibility of the watch).

  • ??????

    Next step from Biver would be an Acoustic Watch! You cannot see it because its not in visible wavelength range, but you can hear it! Directly by Biver’s patented shouting in your ear.

    • Or breathing sh**ty cheese breath into your face.

  • TechUser2011

    Really breathtaking watch. If you are into watchmaking, then this piece is for you. The all-sapphire case is stunning.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    The ultimate advance in Hublot “invisible visibility theme”, will be the removal of the all hands. Boom, it will blow your mind!

  • funNactive

    This would be a fun watch to look at in person.

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