At 45mm (actually 45.5mm) wide, the Hublot Big Bang UNICO is certainly smaller than the King Power, but it isn’t a large watch. With that said, it wears extremely comfortably. One reason for this is that it is designed not to slide around on your wrist. The particular case and clasp design create a “sandwich” effect where pressure to hold the watch in place comes from the top and bottom of your wrist even if there is excess space on the side. Thus, despite the large size of the case it is designed such that it is meant to fit well on even medium-to-smaller wrists (like my own).
The Hublot Big Bang UNICO also looks effortlessly cool. OK, if cool for you is reserved and classic then it isn’t cool. If “cool” for you fits into a more standard definition of “successful risk-taking” then, yes, the Big Bang concept is cool. The highly architected yet symmetrical lines along with the tapering style are both modern but also classically proportionate. What makes the Hublot Big Bang UNICO cases a bit distinct are the large round chronograph pushers as well as the particular style of the hour markers and hands (which do, of course, vary somewhat from dial to dial).
This particular reference 411.CI.1190.LR.ABO14 model comes in a black ceramic case which is given at least two finishes from polished to matte. It is paired with black screws and other case construction elements. This particular kind of all-black look means a lot to me, but it was Hublot that really helped popularize the all-black watch look that started to be a thing about 10 years ago. I was never a fan of most totally all-black watches but appreciated how a range of muted black colors made complex cases appear very interesting. That mixed with a legible dial is right up my alley.
So, it makes me happy that this particular black and orange Hublot Big Bang UNICO uses a sort of matte orange sherbet color for the outline of the hands and hour markers, which makes everything nice and legible. There is still SuperLumiNova luminant (the black paint in the hands and numerals), of course, so you have some darkness viewing. With that said, black-colored luminant (even though it glows green) is never going to be as powerful as lighter color lume paints – probably because the dark color prevents some light absorption when charging the luminant.
Hublot’s philosophy about “fusion” rings true as the Hublot Big Bang UNICO case is produced from a range of materials. Not all of these are luxury materials, but honestly, some of the high-grade polymer resins used for the middle case are extremely high performance, adding both lightness and durability. I think these materials also help make the case more shock-resistant. I also want to mention the case screws which are not “aligned” as per the desires of some of the more outspoken critics of the brand.
Allow me to state here and now that I totally sympathize with watch lovers who want screws to be symmetrical and line up properly on dials and cases so that the screw heads all work together in the same direction. I totally get the desire for absolutely harmony in all things when it comes to luxury watches. However, I don’t specifically relate to the need to have all the screw heads line up. This is especially an issue on the Big Bang bezel, where the screws are screwed in and they rest in whatever position they were when tightened.
Hublot leaves it this way on purpose. The idea is to comment on the obvious industrial nature and construction of the product. These are actual functional screws and their random arrangement is an expression of this. Hublot wants it that way and will probably retain this philosophy for the foreseeable future. Probably the most relevant competitor that does line up their screws is Audemars Piguet on their Royal Oak watches.
The reason Audemars Piguet is able to do this is because what appears to be screw heads on the bezel are actually a style of nut – with bolts that are tightened from underneath. Speaking of Audemars Piguet, they are the “sworn competitor” of Hublot – which is another regular part of watch lover conversation. Frankly, I like both brands quite a bit and think they both bring a lot of value to the table. For me, it isn’t a Royal-Oak-Offshore-versus-Big-Bang world, as I think both product families can live in harmony. When people say “the Big Bang is just a copy of the Royal Oak Offshore case design,” I respond with “and so what if it is?”
Clearly, the two products have more differences than they do similarities, and it isn’t like Audemars Piguet created the overall case in a vacuum, either. This is an industry with a lot of brands borrowing and being inspired by one another. As long as a product takes an existing theme and pulls it in a different direction that is creative, then I am OK with it. I have yet to meet anyone who has actually confused an Audemars Piguet with an Hublot. When that happens, I will entertain complaints of “copying.”
One of the more successful things that Hublot integrated into the Hublot Big Bang UNICO case are the pushers in the lugs to release the strap ends. Hublot cases tend to look good on a number of different strap options, and most of their watches come with two straps anyway (some type of leather strap along with a back-up rubber strap). Unfortunately, I think that they only supply one deployant clasp – so for total strap-changing convenience, you’ll need to get another one of those. With that said, the process of easily and securely changing straps is here, and I think that is a core element in having any fashionably diverse high-end watch. The process of pulling out the strap-changing tool and fiddling around with it seems very backwards by today’s standards when it comes to enjoying a high-end timepiece.
Speaking of straps, on this Hublot Big Bang UNICO is a black alligator with contrast stitching band which has an inner rubber lining. Rubber straps are arguably among the most comfortable, and stitching the alligator to rubber offers a beautiful exterior with a practical interior. The clasp design is further useful in helping to vastly increase the lifespan of the alligator because it does not need to bend very much when putting the watch on or taking it off.
It goes without saying that the Big Bang UNICO case is fitted with a sapphire crystal, and I like that it is set perhaps half a millimeter above the bezel which gives a small visual outline of the crystal as you move the watch around. These small areas of light reflection are subtle, but a core element in the visual design of the watch. There is another sapphire crystal on the rear of the case over the movement, and the case itself is water resistant to a respectable 100 meters.
Looking at the Hublot Big Bang UNICO watch in a vacuum, it is difficult to deny that it is a very nice product. It isn’t the luxury timepiece for everyone, but it isn’t trying to be. In fact, one of the “shotgun marketing” approaches behind the brand is specifically that not every new product they release is meant to appeal to all fans of the brand. If one in ten new Hublot watches is appealing to their, fans the brand is likely very happy. New Hublot timepieces that don’t interest me I simply disregard with the knowledge that something a lot more appealing to me will be available right around the corner.
Taken outside of a product vacuum and looking at the image of Hublot as a brand, the Hublot Big Bang UNICO is still a very impressive product. Navigating the personality which Hublot as a company has developed over the last few years is a complex task that even I can’t always do. Many times when I am with Hublot for an event or product launch, I sort of just relax and let the ride take me where it will. You never know what fun, wacky, weird, and provocative things will happen when you are with Hublot. That, for me, is part of the charm, and I like the idea of a company that tries new and vastly different things all the time is also responsible for helping to define what modern luxury is for a lot of people who don’t actually consider themselves watch lovers.
If I could say just one really positive (and true) thing about Hublot, it is that for the larger high-end purchasing community, Hublot has solidified the notion that a cool, luxury timepiece is the ultimate lifestyle product able to tell people not only who you are but the types of things you are into. If anyone is helping to keep timepieces as a status symbol for the wider public (either for better or worse) it is Hublot – and that would have never happened if their timepieces were not at the very least fun to look at and wear.
No Hublot has ever been cheap, and they are among the many watch brands out there that constantly face “price scrutiny.” With the high-end movements and pretty good attention to detail, they offer what I would say is a respectable experience for the money. Sure, their timepieces would be a lot more attractive at a lower price, but perhaps, I am just saying that because it feels like a shame that the Hublot Big Bang UNICO is priced a bit outside of what so many people who would like it can afford. This particular Hublot Big Bang UNICO ref. 411.CI.1190.LR.ABO14 is part of a limited edition of 100 pieces and has a retail price of $22,300. hublot.com
>Model: Big Bang UNICO ref. 411.CI.1190.LR.ABO14
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Modern high-end sport watch lover who wants a slick in-house movement and wears the Hublot brand specifically because they are comfortable with the polarizing image.
>Best characteristic of watch: Best Big Bang product to date with a beautiful movement that has comfortable case mixed with a lot of personality that is all about rebelling against the stuffy nature of the traditional Swiss watch industry.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Expensive price. Polarizing brand isn’t appealing for everyone. Date window is arguably difficult to read for those without perfect vision.