Each year in Munich, the steins are filled (and re-filled), and the men don their short leather breeches to celebrate Oktoberfest. This year, Hublot joined the festivities by partnering with local tanner Meindl to create a distinctly Bavarian incarnation of its popular Big Bang watch which has had so many versions resulting from various collaborations. The Hublot Big Bang Bavaria is the first Big Bang to feature a bronze case, and it seems as though the material was chosen for its rustic color and properties to match the hand-embroidered deer leather strap in the Bund style, evoking a link with the German region of Bavaria’s traditional garb.
Bronze as a watchmaking material is becoming increasingly popular, with its distinctive vintage looks and unique patina developing over time. The Hublot “art of fusion” design concept is very much at play here with a mixture of materials such as 18k polished yellow gold screws providing a subtle visual contrast from the brushed bronze case and matte black skeletonized dial. Splashes of green adorn the second hand and minute track, which help to link the watch face with the green embroidered deer head decorating the strap. Within the Big Bang Bavaria beats Hublot’s Unico manufacture movement which offers a flyback chronograph complication and 72-hour power reserve.
The dial of the Big Bang Bavaria is wonderfully three-dimensional, from the floating Hublot logo on the sapphire to the exposed date ring with its discreet aperture at 3 o’clock. Both the hour and minute hands are filled with luminescent material towards the tip and partially cut away at the base, to better display the exposed gears of Hublot’s Unico movement underneath. This combined with extensive use of lume for the hour markers, chronograph hands, quarter-hour “pips” on the minutes register, and hour “pips” on the hours register should make for good nighttime readability. The contrast of gold against black also appears to make the Big Bang Bavaria one of the more legible models that Hublot has released recently.
Naturally, the Big Bang Bavaria was launched with an event at Hublot’s boutique in Munich, with LVMH Head of Watchmaking Jean-Claude Biver and company CEO Ricardo Guadalupe joined by Marcus Meindl for the tapping of the keg and picture-taking. Meindl has been a family-run tanner and boot maker since 1683, and their current factory in Kirchanschöring, Bavaria, has been in operation for over 300 years. The straps of each watch are hand-crafted using the family’s ancestral techniques, with each individual deer hide taking 3 or 4 months to tan. Traditional sewing methods produce a three-dimensional effect for the deer head insignia, which serves to enhance the textural and visual appeal of the watch as a whole.
Bund straps were originally invented for use by German pilots during World War II to prevent the watch cases from freezing or searing the wearer’s skin at high altitudes or in the event of a cockpit fire. In addition to providing yet another link to local history, this style of strap also perfectly complements a bronze watch to prevent oxidization turning the wearer’s skin green, although Hublot have catered to those wishing to replace the strap with a non-Bund alternative by manufacturing the caseback from black ceramic. A second strap (not pictured) is also included and easily interchangeable thanks to Hublot’s “One Click” attachment system, which offers a slightly dressier look in “altsalzburg” (black-brown) colored deer leather with oak leaf embroidery. The buckle is made of black PVD titanium with a brushed bronze deployant clasp insert, providing a modern touch to an otherwise old-world aesthetic.
The size of the Hublot Big Bang Bavaria is going to be a sticking point for some. Hublot’s Big Bang watches already wear quite large with their 45mm cases, and the Bund style strap makes this model appear even bigger on the wrist. That being said, the deer leather being used here has been meticulously hand-worked by the craftsmen at Meindl to achieve a velvety soft texture and help it wear more comfortably. This piece also offers a strong vintage vibe and a real connection with Bavarian history, which should appeal to lovers of German culture or anyone looking to accessorize their Lederhosen to the extreme for Oktoberfest or any Bavarian-themed occasion. The Hublot Big Bang Bavaria is being offered in a limited edition run of 100 pieces, with a price of €27,900. hublot.com