October 28, 2021
by Zach Pina
Boy, this would have been a very different story to write had the San Francisco Giants made better on their historic regular season by getting past the Dodgers, but that’s a story for another time — and quite frankly, another website. So instead, here’s a fun fact: Did you know the Golden Gate Bridge isn’t actually red, but orange? It’s red in all the postcards and red in all the emojis — hell, it’s even visibly red when shrouded in San Francisco’s near-omnipresent fog (nicknamed Karl, for those in the know), but when the light hits it just right at the end of a sunny day in October, it takes on that familiar reddish-orange that is emblematic of the San Francisco Bay Area — a warm, golden hue that evokes everything from our hapless Giants to the mighty bridge and everywhere between in the seven-by-seven. Christened “International Orange” just prior to the bridge’s completion in 1937, the now-ubiquitous Bay Area color has been faithfully and impressively replicated in orange ceramic by Hublot for the Swiss maker’s newest Big Bang Unico Chronograph, which is officially reserved for the brand’s San Francisco Boutique in Union Square.
Given how difficult it is to achieve consistency in lighter-colored ceramics like orange and red, you really have to hand it to Hublot for nailing what’s arguably the more challenging of these two difficult colors in the ceramic watchmaking spectrum. In a bit of inside baseball for context, it reputedly took Omega five years on the process to go from being able to introduce this ultra-limited platinum reference with an orange ceramic bezel to delivering a regular production Seamaster Planet Ocean with such a bezel, while eagle-eyed collectors have noticed even Rolex has had difficulty achieving consistency in tone across multiple years of production for its bi-color red and blue “Pepsi” ceramic bezel insert on the GMT Master II.
This particular orange is emblematic just about everywhere you go in the 415, so to see it rendered so beautifully in both brushed and polished surfaces on the Unico makes this tribute feel all the more special than just a logo on the dial. Granted, there is indeed a logo of sorts on the dial — as we’ve seen before with other collaborative or special-edition Unico references, the 9am running seconds register gets the subtle embellishment, this time with a lightly stylized Golden Gate Bridge motif (which actually looks a lot like the Bay Bridge outline used on the Golden State Warriors logo, but that’s beside the point). The real story here is the unique color of the case and the fact that the greater Bay Area’s passionate and extremely active collecting community is getting a proper hat tip from the international watch world.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really wish we’d see fewer skeletonized dials in the Big Bang range (particularly in the Integral collection, also a story for another day), but Hublot remains content to have the skeletonized elements remain a key identifier of the Big Bang and its in-house-developed HUB 1242 calibre, which is the same column wheel-actuated chronograph movement widely deployed across the Big Bang range. In defense of such elements, though, the stark, architectural look of the movement, when viewed in contrast to a brightly colored ceramic frame — the likes of which we’ve now seen in olive drab green, bumblebee yellow, and even a soft sky blue — is a signature of the Big Bang, and really will never not delight.
Model: Big Bang Unico San Francisco Boutique Special Edition (ref. 411.CU.6610.RX.HSF21)
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: Satin-finished and polished orange ceramic; mid-case, crown, and pushers in black PVD-coated titanium
Movement: Hublot HUB1242 UNICO (in-house manufactured automatic flyback chronograph with column-wheel actuation)
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Interchangeable black-lined rubber strap, orange velcro sport strap, black PVD titanium with black ceramic insert deployant clasp
Price & Availability: $22,500 USD, limited to 20 pieces
The price of the Big Bang Unico San Francisco (and while we’re at it, just don’t call it “San Fran” or “Frisco,” please) Boutique Edition in orange ceramic is $22,500 USD, and if you’re planning on paying a visit to The City (just remember to wear some flowers in your hair), it’ll be available at the brand’s Union Square boutique, and online from Hublot’s own e-commerce store. Get to know the Big Bang Unico and other Hublot watches at hublot.com.