February 27, 2018
by Ariel Adams
Red ceramic is here thanks to Hublot and its materials workshop. At Baselworld 2018 Swiss Hublot will debut the first red ceramic-cased watch in the reference 411.CF.8513.RX Hublot Big Bang UNICO Red Magic as a limited edition of 500 pieces. In all black and red, the Big Bang UNICO Red Magic will feature a red ceramic bezel and case. What’s the big deal you ask? It is all in the color.
As a piece unique for the Only Watch charity auction, Hublot did release a watch with a red ceramic bezel – that we believe was produced using the same process as the Big Bang UNICO Red Magic. What’s so special about red? It isn’t red per se but rather that ceramic is a material that simply doesn’t like to be made in all colors. Black and white ceramic in watches is no problem. Blue and brown ceramic tones have become increasingly popular. Red, however, has been a color that was simply too light to look good and in traditional ceramic case-baking processes, ends up mostly blotchy and discolored.
What did Hublot do in order to make a red ceramic material? Experiment a lot it appears. Hublot has a materials lab in Switzerland where a variety of interesting stuff has come, such as Magic Gold (a gold alloy mixed with ceramic). Red Magic ceramic is said to be about 300 vickers harder than most standard zirconium dioxide ceramic materials and then there is that perfect, uniform, cherry red color. Many people are immediately thinking of Rolex right now, and the red & blue “Pepsi bezel” GMT-Master II watch. First of all, that bezel is half blue and half red, being overall much smaller in size. Also, the red color on the Rolex is nice, but darker in color than the bright Big Bang UNICO Red Magic. Even Rolex has issues producing a half-red ceramic bezel, which is why (for now) they only use it on one 18k white gold watch model.
Hublot says that their red-colored ceramic produced by Hublot Research & Development is patented and produced in-house. As I said, in addition to the bright red color, they claim that it is even more scratch-resistant than other ceramic materials. Hublot is a major fan of ceramic, having a larger percentage of its total production include ceramic parts even if it is just a bezel. It therefore makes sense that Hublot is pushing forward in developing new ways to render ceramic both increasingly fashionable and exciting as a luxury watch material.
Ceramic parts are first formed and then baked to harden. After they are baked they are machined to shape and then polished. One of the traditional problems with non-dark or non-pigment-free (white) ceramic is that the heat during the baking process ruins the pigments. Hublot claims that their patented process for making Red Magic ceramic uses a combination of both high-pressure and heat during the sintering process. More so, Hublot claims the process works for more colors than just red, so expect to possibly see a Big Bang Magic Blue, Magic Yellow, Magic Orange, and other colorful ceramic watch models in the near future.
The Hublot Big Bang UNICO Red Magic comes in a red ceramic case that is 45mm wide and 15.4mm thick with 100m of water resistance. The dial is given a black and red treatment with very legible matte red handset and hour markers. It’s a rather masculine and aggressive design, but not without its elegance. Even though this a cool design, I think in the future Hublot can make a red ceramic watch with even more of the overall color palette being red. Attached to the case is a quick-removable black and red rubber strap.
Powering the Big Bang Red Magic is the Hublot UNICO caliber HUB 1242 automatic chronograph movement. It operates at 4Hz with 72 hours of power reserve and is increasingly known as a durable movement that also happens to look modern (yet very “horological”). In addition to red ceramic and black resin parts in the case, Hublot uses titanium for things like bezel screws and the strap deployant. I look forward to seeing the precise hue of Red Magic ceramic in person at Baselworld 2018. The Hublot Big Bang UNICO Red Magic reference 411.CF.8513.RX will be a limited edition of 500 pieces and the price is 24,900 CHF. hublot.com