At 44mm wide and relatively thick, the Big Bang intentionally wears large. It is however very comfortable. If you like the look of it but feel that the stately 44mm wide case is too large, the 41mm wide version actually isn’t too bad. If you are perturbed by larger timepieces, I would strongly consider trying on the 41mm wide Big Bang and seeing what you think. The case (which is made up of 257 components) has a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal, and ceramic bezel. It is also water resistant to 100m and just a hair over 14mm thick. It looks like a sports watch, and happens to more or less function like one as well.
The case complexity of the Hublot Big Bang is both part of its charm as well as its marketing success. This is because the overall design lent itself well to a range of visual styles. What made the Big Bang so famous was that its design worked well in so many colors, which helped lead to a large volume of models (more on that below). The case is also home to some of the Big Bang’s most controversial features, which are the H-shaped titanium screws. So what is controversial about that?
Oddly enough, a lot of purists fault Hublot for not having screws that line up with one another. Meaning that each of the screws is lined up in the same way, or at least meant to “go with” one another. Hublot uses real screws and for that reason their particular orientation would be difficult to change – unless they stopped using real screws that is. This is just one of many things pundits to the Hublot Big Bang have been know to complain about.
Given that the Big Bang 44 has come in so many styles, colors, and materials, one might argue that featuring such a basic one might be boring. To that I respond that this model of the Big Bang 44 is one of the most classic given its straightforward design (looking at it with a modern lens), and actually one of the most stylistically versatile. It is also a good place to start if you are keen to develop a serious Big Bang collection. According to Mr. Biver, there is a guy out there with over 500 Big Bang watches – so good luck keeping up with that guy.
The art of fusion more or less translates into a slick marketing statement, but it does illustrate the power of both a modular design and the popularity of featuring a series of materials in a watch. I think for that reason alone the Big Bang can be considered modern, because in a weird sense, it had the idea of deep personalization built into it.
Inside the Hublot Big Bang 44 is the Hublot caliber HUB4100, which is another controversial element. Hublot helped to kick-start the burgeoning “in-house made” craze where all watch brands strove to offer in-house movements for their watches. This was because the Hublot Big Bang was selling at such volumes, and at such prices that many people expected an in-house movement… Alas the HUB4100 (even though it is printed on the movement) is not an in-house movement but a base Swiss ETA automatic chronograph with some modifications. That doesn’t bother me a bit, but for a while Hublot was being receiving complaints for charging so much for an ETA-based timepiece. Watch fans had a point. The Big Bang UNICO (review linked to above) did away with this issue by debuting the UNICO in-house made movement.
ETA movements are reliable and have a lot more people out there who know how to fix and service them. In an ideal world one might be able to get an in-house movement-based watch all the time, but the reality is that much of the time an ETA-based movement is going to be both more durable as well as affordable to maintain. The only issue that comes up then is price. Consumers of high-end watches are wise to be cognizant of where the value in their watches comes from, and often look to movements as a principle source of value. This is of course true, but so are the other components of a watch such as the case, dial, and hands. The Hublot Big Bang 44 is an example of a watch whose value is less in the exclusive nature of the movement, and more in the other original parts which are made especially for these models.
So the Swiss ETA-based movement inside of the Big Bang 44 is the caliber HUB4100. With a lot of decoration customization, you can see the movement through the caseback of the watch. The automatic movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of about 44 hours. The movement features the time, date, and has a 12 hour chronograph.
The Law Of Multiple Attraction
At 44mm wide on the wrist, the Big Bang 44 wears a bit larger thanks to the wide lug structure and side flanks. This particular model has a black ceramic bezel, titanium “H” screws, a steel case, black resin middle section, and a textured rubber strap. It does indeed have a lot going on, being modeled after modern vehicles and technology, which are “detail dense” sources of inspiration.
Signature elements of the Big Bang design include the case shape, hour and minute hands, as well as the style of the hour markers. People in the past have claimed that Hublot borrowed heavily from the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. Do these models have certain similarities such as bezel screws, use of multiple materials, and a strap which is integrated into the lugs? Yes, but so do many other watches. If Hublot borrowed anything, it was the concept of the Royal Oak Offshore as a type of luxury sports watch. I really don’t personally see how these two watch models could be visually confused for one another – at least I’ve never had that experience.
The brilliance of the Big Bang 44 from a marketing standpoint was the modular means of its construction. This allowed for Hublot to play around with materials and colors while preserving the same core design. It turned out that this strategy was integral for the success of Hublot in a modern era – because they could create new selling options by varying up the look of the Big Bang, versus radically changing the core watch itself.
Reviewing this particular model in steel with a ceramic bezel and “carbon effect” dial is just a glimpse into the larger work of Big Bang variety. This happens to be one of the original designs – if not the original Big Bang 44 design, which is why I wanted to cover it, if anything to see how well it has aged. Ironically this once massive to wear watch that was seen as being packed with visual detail is now considered relatively conservative compared to a lot of what has come since – even from Hublot themselves.
With that said, the Big Bang 44 continues to age gracefully if you are at all a fan of the core look. It might not be a hot new model anymore, and Hublot has certainly turned their “limited edition” attention to newer more updated models. Nevertheless, the Big Bang 44 experienced literally hundreds of model variations during the first 10 years after its original debut. The ability to market and sell that many variations made Hublot not only a valuable brand, but important enough for LVMH to purchase it from Jean-Claude Biver. Rather than leave the company to allow someone else to run it, Mr. Biver stayed on to run Hublot for years, and while he is not the current acting CEO (Ricardo Guadalupe current has that honor), Mr. Biver continues to be the Chairman of Hublot while he spends most of his time running fellow LVMH brand TAG Heuer.
While on one hand many people enjoyed the seemingly endless variety that Hublot seemed to feel the Big Bang watch collection could handle, other people in the watch enthusiast world began to feel fatigued by what seemed like a never ending stream of Big Bang variation. For a while it really did seem as though Hublot was releasing a new Big Bang model each week (which isn’t far from the truth). Watch lovers began to lose the ability to track all the models, but what Hublot was doing was proving the effectiveness of their marketing method.
What Jean-Claude Biver had in mind for the popular Big Bang was to make a version of it for a whole galaxy of different interest groups. Sponsorships and partnerships of all kinds were not intended to test the design creativity of Hublot’s team, but rather to create models which were designed to appear to niche interest groups. The tactic worked, and what Hublot also managed to do is attract its share of Big Bang enthusiasts who collected Big Bang watches in a way similar to how many people collect sneakers (albeit with a much higher budget).
The Big Bang was one of the first high-end fashion watches of the modern era – the only question was how Hublot was going to prevent a good thing from being over-saturated in the market. Depending on who you ask, Hublot either overdid it a bit with Big Bang variants, or properly followed Biver’s mandate to make Hublot the favored watch brand of a range of athletes, musicians, artists, designers, charities, and other people and groups of interest.