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Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In addition to the sapphire crystal-cased version of the MP-05 La Ferrari, the big “transparent” news from Hublot for 2016 is this all-sapphire-cased version of the Big Bang UNICO. Difficult to properly capture in pictures, I think anyone handling this interesting sapphire watch will be impressed by it, and compared to other all-sapphire crystal watches, the price is a relative bargain at under $60,000. In fact, the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire reference 411.JX.4802.RT might be the most affordable all-sapphire-cased watch to date.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Not wanting to merely respond to the sapphire crystal-cased watch trend, there is a more poetic angle to the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire that echoes an area where Hublot was an innovator about a decade ago. Back when the Hublot Big Bang first came on the scene was the same time that Jean-Claude Biver helped introduce the all-black “phantom” watch concept. I recall a few years ago when he gave his speech about how all-black watches represented “visible invisibility.” The trend gained a lot of traction with consumers, and for a long time we saw a good number of successful (and admittedly cool) black-on-black watches which retained legibility by mixing textures, finishes, and shades of black on the dial.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For Hublot the antonym of an all-black watch isn’t an all-white watch. While there have been all-black “phantom” Big Bangs, I don’t recall there being any all-white models. Rather, the opposite of an all-black watch which ironically retains the spirit of “visible invisibility” is a transparent watch. Clever.

This helps explain why the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire doesn’t just have an all-sapphire crystal three-part case, but also transparent elements on the dial such as the hands and even the strap. I don’t think “transparency” will become the new “all-black,” but it is a cool concept and admittedly works quite well for the Big Bang UNICO.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I published a full aBlogtoWatch review on the Hublot Big Bang UNICO watch here where you can get more of my thoughts on this collection that I personally admire. Aside from the sapphire crystal case and unique transparent elements, this watch is the Big Bang UNICO in all ways. The case is 45mm wide and water resistant to 100 meters (something to be proud of) with titanium screws. Hublot does not produce the sapphire crystal case themselves, but refer to a local “Swiss specialist” supplier.

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Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Looking at the dial – which is already skeletonized as is – feels like seeing an x-ray of a Hublot Big Bang UNICO watch. The painted SuperLumiNova on the hands and hour markers preserves legibility, but the concept here is full transparency… and it works. At first, it is a bit odd to see the transparent hands moving on the dial, but to be honest, Jean-Claude Biver is right, and this is the opposite of an all-black watch, but it feels like it fits in the exact same theme.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Lovers of skeletonized dials and movements will enjoy the further view into the movement which, here, is the in-house-made Hublot caliber HUB 1242 UNICO. An impressive movement, this automatic chronograph operates at 4Hz with 72 hours of power reserve. The chronograph has a flyback feature and uses a column wheel transmission (which can be seen on the dial side).

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

My only issue with sapphire crystal-cased watches has nothing to do with the fact that to the lay person these might be mistaken for plastic. It is true that from a distance it would be difficult to know whether or not the watch is inexpensive plastic, or difficult-to-machine and very hard sapphire crystal. All I can say is that because the case is sapphire crystal it benefits from being extremely hard and scratch-resistant. So like ceramic-cased watches (sapphire is even harder), the case of the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire will likely age quite well.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Instead, my issue is with the strap. Hublot, like some others, has felt compelled to complete the transparent theme with a transparent strap. While these help complete the effect, I don’t find them particularly attractive or necessary. I would advise anyone interested in this otherwise super cool watch to quite abandon the strap for whatever else they wanted. The good news about a transparent colorless watch is that any strap choice you want will fit with it!

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Better news is that, if you recall, the Hublot Big Bang UNICO case is fitted with a tool-less quick-release system for the straps. Thus, you can easily fit whatever strap you like to the watch – assuming you buy it from Hublot, as the strap connection system is proprietary. I think on a black alligator strap with white stitching the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire will look quite cool.

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire Watch Hands-On Hands-On

It is probably predictable that the Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire will be produced as a limited edition watch. With that said, it isn’t a tiny limited edition, so at least for the first year or two, scarcity won’t be that big of an issue. For what is likely to be one of the coolest and most affordable sapphire-cased watches around, Hublot will produce 500 pieces of the limited edition Hublot Big Bang UNICO Sapphire reference 411.JX.4802.RT watch at a price of $57,900. hublot.com

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  • ZL

    My favorite Hublot yet. I don’t know why I’m a sucker for these sapphire cased watches, but I am. Oh and I really like the clear strap too.

  • awildermode

    Ha! Remember when the Swatch See Through Jellyfish was all the rage?

  • Sevenmack

    Looks like something I could find in a children’s toy vending machine or at the local Swatch store. Which is a pity. If you’re going to be Hublot, you should go full Hublot. This is more like someone started out going all Hublot, but then got to the middle of the work and said “f–k it”.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      That would be…”Awwww…f__k it!”

  • Ulysses31

    I first saw this and couldn’t repress a giggle. It’s the kind of thing that, after pouring in all that effort, research and engineering, couldn’t surpass the looks of some plastic jelly doodad you’d find in a flea-market stall aimed at teenage girls. The strap looks like it’s made of gelatinous rice. Hublot are capable of all manner of clever technical achievements, but I never get the feeling they have any sense of direction or goal other than to prove they can do it.

  • iamcalledryan

    Legibility aside this looks awesome. Mixed with the transparent elements on the dial/movement, it’s like someone zapped the color and opacity from it! I love that the commitment extended to the hands.

    It might be coming, but I am not yet bored of sapphire cases. I appreciate that they are very scratch resistant, but I would like to know what sort of shock they can stand before a chip or a shatter becomes a likely outcome.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    Like it very much! I would not buy it personally, but is nice. Yes, it can be compared to cheap transparent plastic watches, but then again, a fully loaded Kia can look similar to a BMW, but for those that know, the ride is different.

  • What, no sapphire bridges on the movement?

    Since you can add other atoms to corundum (aluminum oxide) you can make colored sapphire/ruby (think movement jewels), how about a sapphire blue or ruby red version of this case?

    • iamcalledryan

      Agreed, that would look supercool.

      As for the sapphire bridge and case master!

      How to deal with shock on the movement? Cable of course!

      • DanW94

        I realize we’re dealing with photos here but the Hublot case looks absolutely crude and cloudy next to the well finished sapphire cases of RM. Of course the RM is like 10-15 times the cost. I would like to see this Hublot in person to get a better visual sense beyond a cheap plasticky look in a photo.

        • rich

          Totally agree, the tooling on the Hublot does not let the material quality shine, it just looks cheap. Whilst the Mille looks as it costs.

  • Needs a sapphire bracelet

    • Boogur T. Wang

      with lasers.

  • rich

    This looks like the back up for when the G-shock needs to be kept in prime condition, an 80’s cereal box giveaway.

  • Hadrien

    Ok, very nice piece but, apart from the sapphire glass, price, brand, what it? watch this project, to cost? a design ? innovative and more !!! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matthieukeller/concept-watch-o1

    • Thanks for the Kickstarter link. But to be fair, that is a wholly plastic (polymer) case and crystal unit with a Miyota movement. If they were doing it with sapphire, then I would be impressed. Cheers.

      • Hadrien

        Yes, it is possible, even easy, no cost management problem, but not 289 € uro, because the principle of this concept is the accessibility … all with a design, not a label …

  • What is so “clever” and “poetic” about yet another brand jumping on the let’s-do-the-same-that-everyone-else bandwagon?

    I think that on an age where everything is invented already in horology, you need to be authentic, not just another me-too.

    Not just sapphire watches, but everything else! Divers, all are the same. Pilots, the same. Casual, you’d be hard pressed to find differences. That’s what I like about brands like Seven Friday (or whatever number of fridays it’s called) and the one that has dials filled with oil and everything moves in orbits… Ressence.

    This? Sorry but looks like a bastard G-Shock. If the bug from Men In Black from yesterday was hideous, this one really sets the bar to new standars… not that you could find a Hublot that isn’t hideous already.

    Hideouser and hideouser.

    • Jean-Claude Biver’s mantra for Hublot is “First, Different, Unique” (never mind that unique implies different and first and that first implies different and unique). Guess he dreamed up this mantra at the Department of Redundancy Department.

      Yet they are not first with a sapphire case, so you are right that this is a me-to watch (although at a somewhat less insane price point compared to say a Richard Mille).

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    Why didn’t the make the whole movement out of sapphire? That would be quite and achievement, and they may even manage to create an invisible watch! I hope the strap is scented at least…

  • outremer

    Seriously?

  • IanE

    Well, Hublot keep surprising me. There I am, thinking that they have plumbed to the deepest depths the vein of hideousness that is uniquely mined by the Big Bang, and they go and find an even deeper fissure to explore.

  • word-merchant

    Now this is fantastic. All I need to do is find $60k. Donations anyone?

  • DR

    I actually feel sorry for AA here, having to find words to express something other than contempt for this nonsense. Good luck finding 500 (or even 5) people willing to shell out $60k for this!

    Half of me is trawling the internet for pre-Baselworld leaks and teasers, the other half almost wishes that the whole industry (or at least LVMH) would collapse under its own arrogance.

  • Larry Holmack

    I keep waiting for a “Transparent Aluminum” watch….you know…the stuff Scottie invented in Star Trek 4….now that would be cool!!! Oh yeah…it kind of exists now in the form of Aluminum oxynitride…or by the trade name of ALON. It’s mainly used in making bulletproof and blast-resistant windows and for infrared optics. C’mon Hublot….we all want a bulletproof watch, now don’t we!!!

    • Spaceguitar

      “Computer? Computer?”

      “Uh, why don’t you just use the keyboard.”

      “Right. Keyboard.”

  • Marius

    So, for Hublot the antonym of a blacked out watch is a transparent watch. Who cares?

    Secondly, why would you use a saphire case for such a poorly finished movement? I mean, the purpose of a sapphire case is to display a caliber that is either highly decorated or very complex. The Unico is neither highly finished nor very interesting.

    Lastly, the article argues that the Unicio movement is impressive. What are the main reasons for this caliber being impressive? I`m not particularly blown away by it.

    • Ariel Adams

      As hard as we try, there is still no equivalent to seeing a timepiece in person and on your wrist. There are instances where tastes differ, but there are also times when people might be well-advised to leave a final judgement for when they are able to put a timepiece in their wrist and establish a more personal conclusion to the appeal or quality of a watch. I continue to present my authentic enthusiasm for a watch when I indeed feel it.

      • Marius

        You are right, I have not seen this watch in person, but I have seen a few Unico calibers in person. For me, they are simply not good enough to be displayed in a saphire case.

        Also, please don`t insult my extraordinary intelligence by using terms such as enthusiasm. You don`t need a lot of enthusiasm to take a manufacturer`s press release and re-write it in your own words.

        • Ariel Adams

          Well, I for one appreciate you enthusiasm. Press releases contain lots of useful and useless information. I think it is important to share why a brand feels their products merit development and the justifications they make for the decisions the arrive at. I as well as most astute audience members such as yourself will take such statements with a grain of salt and use it to better understand a brand’s “personality.” Press releases also contain a lot of facts and figures such as tech specs and other numerical details which I don’t feel is shameful to reference and republish.

        • Sevenmack

          Oh, Marius, you should be happy that Ariel took time from his busy schedule to converse with the likes of you. Now cut the rubbish!

      • wallydog2

        Too true. And it works both ways. (There was a certain watch I had always wanted, based only on pictures. When I saw one in the flesh, it was quite blah.

  • I’ve always said the best Hublot is the one you can’t see.

  • wallydog2

    Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins were/are right: there is no God

  • Matt Smith-Johnson

    Hard to read, wildly expensive, and yet I have to admit I think it is quite cool.

    Perhaps not as functional as say, a Hamilton Khaki, but I doubt that level of functionality is what they were after. It’s a bit like wearable art, and not necessarily about how quickly you can tell the time. It’s sort of like how the tourbillon doesn’t help the accuracy of a watch, but people like it because it’s just fun to look at. I actually really like that shot from the side where you can see through the strap too—it creates an odd ghostly silhouette and is quite unusual.

    Hublot is known for controversy and polarization, so this crazy idea just seems to make sense coming from them. If I had the kind of income where purchasing a watch like this was no big deal, it would be pretty fun to own.

  • Dan Eraso

    Horrible legitibility. An interést exercise for a concept but not for a production (albeit limited) model. With 60000 there are many interesting and usable options

  • Lawrence

    Better than the Ferrari version

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Some thoughts on scrolling through this piece:
    My my my…
    Well, its a big world with room for many different kinds, eh?
    “White Priveledge!”
    Lume shots must be magnificent!
    GTFOH!
    Someone will just LOVE this piece…on occasion.
    Bold Fashion Move there Hublot
    In keeping with the marque…
    Well, this will certainly stir up the natives !
    “I say there, WTF is that on your wrist ? Is that a gratuitous loaner or did you actually pay for that?”

    If nothing else, this is certainly a conversation starter.

    • mtnsicl

      What does race have anything to do with this watch?

      • Boogur T. Wang

        OK, I changed it.

        • mtnsicl

          Oh, I see now, you’re a racist troll! Good luck with that.

      • mtnsicl

        Oh, I see now, you’re racist! Good luck with that.

  • WINKS

    Cool. A jellyfish on the wrist.

  • Spangles

    That’s cool. I didn’t want to be able to read the time anyway.

  • Spangles

    May your watch chip and shatter!

    -Span’Gles, His name is a killing word

  • Borys Bozzor Pawliw

    Not my style for purchase, but as a technical exercise this deserve respect: from my knowledge of this area, machining a complex shape like this from sapphire is an exercise in extreme care and more than likely a few failed attempts (that likely contribute to the high price). Does anyone have any idea as to who this Swiss specialist supplier may be and how they do this?

    • Rupert Muller

      My guess the company is either Stettler or Bangerter.

      • Borys Bozzor Pawliw

        That’s pretty much nailed it, thanks! Checked the sites out but as expected, not much details as to “how”. I;m asking due to curiosity: I’m working with a client now where the cost of the product is in large part so very high because the huge failures in both earlier R&D and in such a high percentage of products not passing QC mean the few successful SKUs have eye watering consumer costs to help offset that. Just wondering if its the same story here: sapphire could be hard to machine into the shape with even the tiniest error causing the whole crystal to be chucked. The cutting edge is never cheap.. (pun intended!)

  • Antjay

    They are slowly getting there . They have managed to make a Big Bang that is mostly see through . Now if they would just go that extra yard and make it completly invisible , they would surely be awarded a one off Nobel Prize for services to horology .

    • spiceballs

      Indeed, the Emperor would have no clothes.

  • Roma KLM

    Why?!

  • Polly Molly Moo

    I’d rather have the Swatch this thing was modelled/copied from.

  • Omegaboy

    To most, this will look acrylic . . . until you accidently slam your wrist on a car door. Hublot should sell a large steel – or better, yet – carbon fiber cage to go around it.

  • pkansa

    So, they took a Swatch from the 80s and just upgraded the case materials?

  • Mark Baran

    Nifty! So I spend 60K on this watch. Then I go to the bar to meet my fellow affectionados, and they all ask me; who made that cute plastic watch?

  • Spaceguitar

    I believe the problem with Hublot (and perhaps a couple others) is first and foremost people try and compare them to other watches from a value perspective. You’ll get red-faced every time trying to justify these. But somebody said it below. This is art. And hell yeah, art is so insanely subjective. I would not personally buy this, budget challenges notwithstanding. But it’s wearable art, not just a timepiece. And certainly 500 people will probably find it cool. Watch collectors are in essence art collectors. We all are. It’s just a sliding scale how much you want your art collection to be day-to-day useful. This applies to Timex & Swatch collectors, or Hublot and Richard Mille collectors as well. For the latter group, that usefulness is obviously of secondary importance.

  • funNactive

    @ first glance, I though: XL Swatch watch. Too large for my taste. & Just my thought, this type of design would look better in a square/rectangular watch.

  • mtnsicl

    If you look close at the pictures, the build quality is horrible. The sub-dial printing, yes printing, has holes in it.

    • Roma KLM

      And stained hands (residue of glue or something). What is this world coming to? They charge an exorbitant price for a poorly made watch and call it “haute horlogerie”.

  • 200 Fathoms

    A bit of a G-Shock vibe going on here.

  • Spangles

    Hublot and RM should team up to research and invent hands that are totally invisible. It’ll be perfect for this watch and really any RM.

  • BNABOD

    so basically one is paying 60K for the case which is quite remarkable in terms of achievement but I find it rather childish looking. to each his own but the date wheel yes please tell me how to read the date on this thing. are the hands plastic or crystal? hard to tell but it does not look that particularly well finished. no beveled anything. might be had for less than 60K but still at that price I expect perfection and it is far from it. Also the strap looks like some cheap rubber.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    Pretty bad idea, I find it too plasticy.

  • Hydra

    What time is it?

    Its douche a’clock….

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