High-tech ceramics stand at the forefront of the luxury watch industry’s current materials arms race. While full-ceramic designs have permeated nearly every niche in the marketplace, there are still a few areas that have remained out of reach of ceramic designs. With their need for finely-tuned acoustics and unique packaging concerns, minute repeater models are perhaps the most prominent segment left for ceramic case designs to explore, and while minute repeaters have been made with ceramic elements before no brand has attempted a fully ceramic minute repeater case design – until now. Hublot officially stakes its claim to the first-ever full ceramic minute repeater with its latest design, combining both a minute repeater and a tourbillon escapement in a Big Bang Integral Ceramic series case for the very first time. The new limited edition Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater breaks stunning new ground for ceramic case designs, while combining two of the most prestigious complications in watchmaking.
Available in deep black or milky white, the 43mm ceramic case of the Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater follows the Big Bang series’ distinctive angular integrated silhouette. The line’s familiar screw-fastened chamfered bezel, planar integrated lugs, broad polished case side chamfers, and recessed brushed case sides are all present and accounted for here, but each of the two available colorways imbues this familiar design with its own energy in images. The black-cased model, a first for the Big Bang Integral Ceramic family, brings a sinister and stealthy edge to the design, while the eye-catching white model instead accentuates the case’s futuristic aspects in images. Both variants showcase a medley of brushed and polished facets, which given the difficulty inherent in finishing ceramics is a notable achievement on its own. Of course, the most impressive thing about these case designs isn’t necessarily how they look, it’s how they perform. A minute repeater’s case is, in a very real sense, a musical instrument. Beyond the usual case functions of protecting the movement and dial, the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater’s case acts as a resonator and amplifier for the chimes within. This presents two engineering challenges. The first is acoustics – zirconium oxide ceramics in general can be finicky to work with, and ceramics are not known for their acoustical properties. Hublot solves this through intricate machining, creating a complicated internal resonator that overcomes the material’s inherent properties and produces a clear, musical tone. The second challenge, which partly springs from the first challenge’s solution, is the issue of water resistance. With a minute repeater’s complex internal case structure, it can be difficult to keep things watertight, and Hublot proves this point with a mediocre 30-meter water resistance rating.
Hublot takes a full skeleton approach to the dial of the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater, with its signature ultra-modern visual flair. Beyond the applied faceted indices and skeleton hands in either brushed rhodium plate or brushed black coating, the movement is on full display, with an intricate web of skeletonized bridges, plates, and wheels in images. The brand showcases a range of modern finishes across these elements, including vertical and radial brushing, polished anglage, and perlage. It isn’t often that a skeleton tourbillon escapement comes across as subtle in images, but the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater’s 6 o’clock tourbillon is remarkably restrained in its presentation. Outside of a broad skeleton balance cock and a minimalist three-arm tourbillon cage, the brand does little to frame or highlight this complex escapement, instead allowing the complication to speak for itself in images.
The in-house MHUB8001.H1.RH handwound tourbillon minute repeater movement inside the Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater offers a more focused presentation in images when viewed from the caseback. Here, larger and more complete bridges direct visual attention toward key elements of the gear train, rather than the more open display of the dial side. This more selective display also allows for more deliberate visual framing, and the broad swath of negative space surrounding the twin brushed and polished minute repeater hammers make these the clear visual centerpiece in images. In terms of performance, the MHUB8001.H1.RH offers a hefty 80 hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. Hublot finishes both the black and white case variants of the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater with matching integrated ceramic bracelets, featuring sharply faceted tapering three-link designs and an eye-catching mix of brushed and polished surfaces across each link.
As the first-ever fully ceramic-cased minute repeater, the first Big Bang Integral Ceramic to feature a tourbillon, and the first model in the family to offer a black ceramic case, the limited edition Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater shines a spotlight on the brand’s horological and material expertise in spectacular fashion. Only 18 examples each of the white-cased and black-cased variants will be made, for a total production run of 36 units. The Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater is available now, exclusively through Hublot’s authorized dealers in Japan. MSRP for the Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater stands at $295,000 as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.