January 4, 2023
I’m a huge fan of Hublot as a brand, but I’d be lying if I said that I loved every single one of the watches it produces. Although I would do many things to get my hands on some models, like the Big Bang Unico Yellow Sapphire, others aren’t exactly my cup of tea, and until very recently, one of the models that I didn’t care at all about was the Big Bang smartwatch. I frequently say that many of the people who hate Hublot simply just don’t fully understand the company, and in much the same way that Hublot frequently gets misunderstood, I just didn’t fully get what the Big Bang e was supposed to be within the greater context of the brand’s lineup. Sometimes you just have to experience things in order to fully understand them, and after traveling to Qatar with Hublot for the semi-finals of the World Cup, seeing the Big Bang smartwatches in action (along with the people who actually own them), and getting a chance to spend some time with one of the prototypes back in Los Angeles, I now have a much better understanding of what exactly this smartwatch is to both Hublot and the people who purchase it.
Given that Hublot is the Official Timekeeper of the FIFA World Cup, it is virtually a given that the brand would produce some sort of watch in recognition of the prestigious partnership — especially since the tournament only happens once every four years. That said, I don’t think anyone really wants some contrived and kitschy model with little soccer balls for the sub-dials (or something equally terrible along those lines), especially not at the price point where Hublot operates. Therefore, the Big Bang e smartwatch becomes the perfect model to serve as the foundation for a World Cup-themed commemorative timepiece, as it enables the watch to have legitimately useful soccer-related features, along with helping guarantee a price point that is positioned on the affordable side of Hublot’s catalog. I’ve always understood why Hublot chose to make its World Cup watch based upon a connected device platform, but I wasn’t quite sure if the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup model was just some obligatory gimmick that Hublot felt compelled to create, or if an ultra-premium commemorative smartwatch was actually something that the brand’s customers were interested in owning.
Hublot created the Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 smartwatch as a limited edition of 1,000 examples, and every single one of them ended up selling before the end of the tournament. During the time I was with the brand for the semi-finals, I heard people say that the model had sold out completely, and this was confirmed by someone working at the Hublot boutique in the Doha airport in Qatar, who told me that they didn’t receive their shipment of Big Bang e FIFA World Cup watches until just two weeks before the semi-final matches, yet every single one of them had been sold during that small window of time. I could see the soccer and Hublot super-fans purchasing them so that they could enjoy the integrated countdown feature before the start of the tournament, but hearing that Hublot had sold any significant number of these watches long after the World Cup had already started was not something that I had anticipated. If I needed any additional proof that all of the examples had actually been sold, it ultimately proved impossible for me to organize a review sample of a standard-production version of the watch, and Hublot ended up sending me one of the prototypes for review because the entire production run had been claimed at a retail level. Some collectors might scoff at a smartwatch that costs as much as an entry-level Rolex, yet Hublot clearly had zero problems selling all 1,000 examples of its World Cup-themed connected timepiece.
The external case of the Hublot Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is primarily crafted from black ceramic, and it follows the same core silhouette as other models from the Big Bang collection with angular integrated lugs that feature exposed screws and a trapezoid-shaped button for the quick release strap system. The case itself measures 44mm in diameter by a total of 15.5mm thick, although if you don’t count the protrusion of the sensor in the middle of the caseback, the actual thickness of the case is closer to about 14mm. The vast majority of the black ceramic case components receive a matte micro-blasted finish, although the side edges of the upper and lower sections are given a glossy high-polish surface for added contrast and a slightly more elevated overall appearance.
The top side of the case is simply a large circular AMOLED touch screen covered by a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, while the rest of the controls consist of a rectangular button on the side of the case at 8 o’clock, along with the crown, which can be used as both a rotary control and a button by either turning it or pressing it into the case. The matte black ceramic caseback features a circular multifunction sensor in the middle, along with the contact points for the charger that magnetically attaches to the caseback. Despite being an electronic device with a touch screen, buttons, and speaker ports, the Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 still offers 30 meters of water resistance, meaning that it is sufficiently protected against the sweat and moisture that it is likely to encounter as a fitness tracker or sports watch. While the overall feel and build quality are miles above what you get from a normal smartwatch, it still isn’t up to quite the same standards as the mechanical Hublot Big Bang models that have full-ceramic cases, and this entirely makes sense considering that they cost multiple times more than this electronic equivalent.
Just like a number of other contemporary models from the Big Bang collection, the Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 smartwatch features an integrated quick-release strap-changing system. Disconnecting the strap is done by pressing the two small trapezoid-shaped buttons that sit flush between the screws on the top surface of the lugs, and attaching a new strap is done by simply pressing the metal ends into the case until you hear them click into the latching mechanism. Hublot is the godfather of fitting rubber straps on luxury watches, and just as you would expect from a company with this reputation, the strap for the Big Bang e smartwatch is incredibly comfortable. While the strap fitted to this prototype watch is the standard black and burgundy version that is in the colors of Qatar’s national flag, Hublot also offers a variety of other strap options that pay tribute to the various different countries competing in the World Cup. Attaching the two ends of the clasp together on the underside of the wrist is a black composite deployant clasp.
From a design and comfort standpoint, the clasp itself is quite good, although the use of some type of metal here might have ultimately provided a more premium overall feel. The clasp latches with a double push-button release, and it can also be disconnected from the strap itself by pressing a small button located on the inside. Quick-release connectors for both the lugs and clasp mean that switching straps requires zero tools and the entire process takes just a handful of seconds. Additionally, the fact that the clasp can also be transplanted to a new strap within seconds is a nice touch, and not a feature that you see on many watches, even among those that have quick-release connection points at the lugs. Given that the clasp is specifically designed to be swapped during strap changes, it would have been nice to see a slightly more premium clasp used here instead, and even the exact same clasp crafted from stainless steel or titanium might have ultimately resulted in a more elevated tactile experience.
As someone who has used the same inexpensive plastic Garmin for the last several years, ultra-premium smartwatches really aren’t my cup of tea. With that in mind, after seeing multiple Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 watches in action while attending the two semi-final games of the World Cup, I ultimately found myself surprisingly interested in what these high-tech spectator accessories were actually doing from a functionality standpoint. For starters, every single person’s watch looked different — which is something that you would expect from a smartwatch with a customizable digital display. However, beyond the country-specific designs and other virtual faces that emulate popular analog Hublot models, some of the things that I saw the watches do was thoroughly intriguing.
Certain functions like displaying the weather or notifications have become standard for modern smartwatches, but some of the analog-style faces would appear to melt and move with digital animations, while others would display information about the games that would go beyond what was even available on the big screens at the stadiums. I had to look back at the original aBlogtoWatch article about the watch after the first night of seeing them in action for a quick refresher on all of the various ways that the watch can track game statistics and tournament progress. In addition to keeping track of the official game clock, the watches also track the goals, yellow/red cards, and penalty kicks, and they essentially create a heads-up-display for viewers in a wrist-mounted package that looks like a Hublot Big Bang.
For the avid soccer fan, this is undeniably a fun and novel feature, as it helps create an immersive experience and an easy way to keep track of all the important game-related stats. Is this functionality necessary in any capacity for the average person watching the World Cup? Absolutely not. Unless you are one of the official FIFA referees who wear Hublot smartwatches to keep track of the official game times, all of this fantastic and advanced game-related integration could really be considered a high-tech novelty, and it is essentially the digital equivalent of mechanical complications that are now primarily intended to impress others and amuse their owners. That said, since the functional heart of the Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 smartwatch is a Qualcomm processor running Wear OS 3.0 by Google, the actual interface and user experience is extremely intuitive and easy to navigate. I’m barely competent when it comes to figuring out technology, yet even I was able to quickly get the watch configured and paired to my phone without needing to consult the manual or watch any tutorial videos.
While I certainly find it amusing to watch text messages pop up on the face of a black ceramic Hublot, the various digital dials that Hublot includes are probably the single feature that I enjoy most. Alongside numerous different digital displays, including all 32 of the participating countries in the World Cup, plus one that looks like the red and green Hublot referee boards, you also get a few famous models like the Classic Fusion and Big Bang series, plus some seriously fanciful options like a three-register GMT screen, an animated skull, and a space-age moonphase layout — and nearly all of them are available in a full spectrum of different colors. My personal favorite is the “Impossible Movement” version, a moving skeletonized display with a functional minute repeater. To use the minute repeater feature, simply tap the screen and the built-in speaker on the side of the case rings out the current time. While this is largely just a gimmick, it’s also incredibly fun and ultimately a feature that I’m sure will delight a number of watch enthusiasts other than myself.
While I certainly enjoy the novelty of the Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 smartwatch, it still wouldn’t be my first choice among the vast assortment of different models that make up Hublot’s current catalog. Even at the affordable end of the spectrum, I’d rather spend a little bit more and get myself something like an entry-level model from the Classic Fusion collection. That said, the Big Bang e-smartwatch isn’t designed for someone like me, but rather for the person who probably already owns at least a couple of other Hublot watches and who now wants another more affordable piece from the brand as a way to enhance their World Cup viewing experience. Many of the people who were wearing these smartwatches at the games in Qatar were also wearing other Hublot models throughout the week, such as the various Big Bang watches with vibrantly colored ceramic cases that all cost several times more than Hublot’s smartwatch.
In the same way that someone who normally wears expensive suits might buy a jersey from their favorite sports team and wear it to one of the games, the Big Bang e smartwatch is the timepiece for the person who normally wears high-end Hublot models, and who now wants something fun and in-theme for a global sporting event that only happens once every four years. This isn’t the Hublot watch that a person saves up to buy as the crown jewel of their collection, but rather it is a functional novelty for those who probably already own numerous other more expensive timepieces. I could easily see a person who owns an entire collection of five and six-figure watches purchasing the Big Bang e Qatar 2022 on a whim, simply as a way to help them get in the mood for the World Cup and to increase their enjoyment of watching the tournament.
At the end of the day, the Hublot Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 smartwatch isn’t a model for the budget-conscious person who wants to get a solid entry-level Hublot. It also isn’t the watch for the person who is trying to decide between a Garmin and the Apple Watch Ultra for their no-nonsense outdoor fitness tracker. Instead, this ultra-premium smartwatch is first and foremost designed to be a novelty and a flex, while still delivering the same core functionality that customers have come to expect from modern connected devices. Although there are a number of models in Hublot’s catalog that can be purchased brand-new for less than five figures, it’s important to remember that this is also a company that produces watches with full sapphire cases and one that ultimately isn’t intended for the everyday budget-conscious person.
With an official retail price of $5,800 USD, the Hublot Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 costs roughly the same as entry-level mechanical models from major blue-chip luxury brands. However, the other way of looking at this is that the Big Bang e-smartwatch is the absolute least expensive Hublot timepiece currently available. For the watch enthusiast who already owns an entire collection of six-figure luxury timepieces, buying the Hublot Big Bang e Qatar 2022 smartwatch for the World Cup could almost be seen as the equivalent of a normal person like myself purchasing a mouse-ear hat while on vacation at Disneyland. Hublot is best at making fun and in-your-face statement watches, and buying a $6k smartwatch to help get you in the mood for watching the World Cup is arguably just as much of a flagrant flex and a statement about indulgent consumption as buying a six-figure mechanical timepiece with a full yellow sapphire case, it just goes about making its statement in a completely different way. For more information on the Hublot Big Bang e FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 smartwatch, please visit the brand’s website.